37 Howitzer Battery RFA: The Curragh to Le Cateau, August 1914

Wednesday 22nd January 2020

St John’s Place, Lower Road, Bemerton, SP2 9NP


Mike Watson provides some insights into the background and experiences of some of the Gunners, including three VCs – Captain Douglas Reynolds, Drivers Job Drain and Fred Luke, who deployed from Ireland to France in August 1914 – as relayed to him by some of those 37 Battery veterans, including Fred Luke, whom he met at Le Cateau 50 years later in August 1964. There was an urgent need to prevent the Retreat from Mons becoming a rout by checking the momentum of the following 1st German Army on the Cambrai/Le Cateau ridge.  So that is why 5th Division, including 37 Battery of 2nd British Corps fought their renowned rear-guard action near Le Cateau on Wednesday 26 August 1914. Those Gunner veterans stated that they were ‘The Cheese in the Le Cateau Mouse-trap!’ and they fought hard much to the admiration of their supported infantry.

Lt Col Mike Watson is a former BAOR Cold War Field Gunner and technical staff officer who saw active service in Aden, Dhofar and Northern Ireland.  Recently, he was awarded the 2017 Alfred Burne Memorial Medal for his book ‘A Concise History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery’. He is also a founding member of the Salisbury Military History Society.