Germany entered Belgium on August 3rd, 1914 and the British government declared war the next day. A series of battles between German, Belgian and French Armies began on August 4th. By August 22nd, four B.E.F. infantry and one cavalry division were in France ready to begin fighting. The Battle of Mons took place on August 23rd and was the first major confrontation between British and German troops. The Germans were intending to advance on Paris and the British stood in their way. The heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Force was forced to retreat for almost 200 miles from Mons to the River Marne. As they marched through southern Belgium and northern France, they were pursued by the German 1st Army and were often involved in rearguard actions.
The Battle of the Marne, which began on September 6th, ended the retreat. By this time, some regular soldiers and reservists from Radcliffe on Trent had disembarked in France and joined the campaign.