When Britain despatched an Expeditionary Force (the BEF) to the Continent in August 1914, the German Kaiser issued an order of the day to his generals to “walk over General French’s contemptible little army”.
But despite being heavily outnumbered, this small force, including many men from the West Midlands, played a vital role in stopping the seemingly overwhelming German advance across Belgium and into France.
Small in size compared with the much larger armies of France and Germany, the BEF was highly effective. This was in stark contrast to the disasters that the British Army had experienced a few years earlier at the start of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in South Africa.
Credit: History West Midlands