Of the 18 VCs awarded to the Royal Regiment of Artillery during the Great War, eight were won in the first three weeks, all for acts of gallantry carried out not only under enemy shellfire, but also under direct rifle and machine gun fire. The so-called Affair of Nery, an action fought on 1st September 1914, was one of these in which three VCs were awarded to ‘L’ Battery, RHA, which, since then, has been known as ‘Nery’ Battery in commemoration of that action. This story of the German Operations is based on General von Kluck’s March on Paris, Poseck’s German Cavalry in Belgium and France, the German Official Account and such Regimental Histories as were available. Use has also been made of the accounts of two of the German cavalry regiments involved – 18th Dragoons and 15th Hussars. The British positions are taken from Vol I of our Official History, from the account of The Fight at Nery, by the author and published in the RUSI Journal of May 1919, and from General (then Lt Col commanding 11H) T.T.Pitman’s article on the action in the Cavalry Journal of April 1920. Part I in the book, headed “The Pursuit”, describes the actions of the 4th German Cavalry Division, part of II Cavalry Corps, in the German advance through Belgium into France following up the BEF retreating from Mons till reaching the outskirts of Nery on 31st August where the British 1st Cavalry Brigade – 2 DG (Queen’s Bays), 5 DG and 11H with L Battery RHA – lay, under orders to be ready to resume their march at 0430 hours next day,1September. That morning there was thick mist and neither side was aware of the presence of the other till they bumped into each other. Part II, “the Chance Encounter” describes how the battle developed, a battle in which German casualties totalled 162, the British 133 of which the heaviest loss was incurred by L Battery, 23 killed 31 wounded, which also lost 150 of its 228 horses. Part III describes the withdrawal of the German 4th Cavalry Division and offers comments on the result of the battle. Appendices give the German First Army and the 4th Cavalry division orders of battle, and a table with casualty details on both sides.Nery today is much as it was those ninety years ago; the British dead are buried in the French National Cemetery at Verberie, nine and a half miles SW of Compiegne where the Armistice would be signed just over four years later.
NERY, 1914: THE ADVENTURE OF THE GERMAN 4TH CAVALRY DIVISION ON THE 31ST AUGUST AND THE 1ST SEPTEMBER
Brilliant account of the apparently minor chance encounter between German and British cavalry, supported by artillery, famous for the action in which L Battery won three VCs and the honour title ‘Nery’. in August- September 1914, which, the distinguhed author Major A.F. Becke argues, in fact altered the whole course of the Great War.