Sir Reginald Blomfield designed dozens of WW1 cemeteries but with The Menin Gate, is best known for his design of The Cross of Sacrifice, which is placed in all Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries with 40 or more graves. One can be seen here in Mons cemetery on the 90th anniversary commemoration of Armistice Day : 11/11/2008.
Supreme Headquarters, Allied Forces in Europe [SHAFE] is based in Mons nearby. High-ranking military representatives of all the countries of Europe which fought for The Allies, plus Canada and the USA, laid wreathes at the base of The Stone of Remembrance, on the plinth between the flags.
Mons has the distinction, for the British, of being the scene of the very first actions and first fatality of The Great War. Private John Parr, a member of a bicycle reconnaissance unit of the Middlesex Regiment, was the first British soldier killed in action in the war, on 21st August 1914. A gunner of E Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, can be seen in an earlier photograph, laying a wreath at his grave in the cemetery at St Symphorien, on the outskirts of Mons.
The first substantial action took place on the road out of Mons towards Charleroi, at the village of Casteau. At 06:30 on 22 August 4th Irish Dragoons ambushed a patrol of German lancers advancing towards Mons. The Germans saw the trap and retreated. Captain Charles Hornby asked for permission to pursue. Not only was he given permission but the commanding officer promised 10 Guineas [£10.10s.00] to the first man to kill a German with his sabre. This was achieved by Capt Hornby himself.
After pursuing the Germans for some miles the troop encountered a larger group of lancers, dismounted and engaged the enemy with rifle fire. Musketry [proficiency with a rifle] was one of the skills that the British Army excelled at, over all other European armies. Cavalrymen were expected to be as proficient as the infantry rifleman. Drummer Edward Thomas has the distiction of firing the first shot of the war by the British Army. He described it as " like being on the ranges on Salisbury plain. At about 400 yards I fired and the man just fell out of the saddle."