The 2nd battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers was part of the 1st (Guards) Brigade and consisted of the 1st battalion Coldstream Guards, 1st battalion Scots Guards, 1st battalion Black Watch and 2nd battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers.
The 2nd battalion Munster Fusiliers contribution to the Etreux engagement took place on 27th August 1914 at Etreux just south of Oisy. At the time the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was in retreat and in extreme danger of being outflanked and destroyed by superior advancing German forces.
Three companies of the 2nd Munster’s under Major Paul Charrier, a very experienced officer, along with a troop of the 15th Hussars, and two guns of the 118th Battery, R.F.A., held off a full German Corps for a day taking appalling casualties in the process. This action allowed General Haig’s I Corps to retreat unmolested to a place twelve miles from the front thus almost certainly ensuring its survival as a fighting force.
At 9.15 p.m. on the 27th, the remaining 240 men, including many wounded, staggered to their feet, exhausted and just about out of ammunition. With only four unwounded officers, they were forced to surrender.
On the 28th the Germans allowed a party of prisoners of war to collect and bury their dead in what is now the Etreux Memorial Cemetery and which contains the graves of the 122 men who died in the action.
The survivors were initially held captive at a factory in the Etreux locality before being transported in cattle trucks to various locations in Germany.
Most of the NCOs’ and other ranks were incarcerated in the Limburg military POW camp. Limburg, Germany lies in western Hesse between the Taunus and the Westerwald on the river Lahn.
The following report gives an excellent account of the experience of one Munster Fusilier soldier, POW Pte. John Cronin 6369, from his first day of capture to his transfer to Limburg.
PDF of his report after repatriation attached.