Cycle route: Mons, a tribute to 1914-1918

Cultural ,  Touring cyclist ,  Historic at Mons

31.2 km
Touring cyclist
3h
Easy
  • On the occasion of the First World War centenary, Mons has joined forces with many towns in Belgium and France which witnessed the Great War to increase awareness and sensitivity towards it.

    Through commemorative ceremonies, exhibitions and various forms of representation, the Mons region will pay tribute to all those civilians and military men who suffered during these four years.

    Mons is at the heart of the First World War commemorations in 2014.
    Discover the legend of the Mons Angels and navigate the territories marked by this Great War.

    So we never forget...

    As everyone knows, the First World War was particularly bloody, causing millions of casualties. Mons did not escape the destructive wave of events and, against its will, played host to major and tragic events.

    The “Battle of Mons" therefore receives special attention beyond the Channel: sometimes mythical, sometimes realistic. Mythical on the one hand because the “Legend of the Mons Angels” is extremely famous. Realistic on the other hand because the Brits there suffered many losses including the first and the last fallen soldier.

    It was in Mons, in fact, that Private Parr and Private Ellison were killed, forever becoming the first and last British soldiers to have fallen during the conflict, making Mons “The Place of the First & the Last”. In addition, for acts of bravery performed on our soil, Lieutenant Dease V.C. and Private Godley received the first two Victoria Cross awards during the First World War.

    These events explain the notoriety of the “Battle of Mons” and demand that everyone observe their duty of remembrance. In 2014, the City of Mons celebrated the Battle’s centenary in the presence of various European authorities. In this respect, the City of Mons wishes to cherish the memory of those who fought for their ideals and whose courage still resonates in hearts and memories.

    From legend to reality, Mons offers an authentic memorial journey strongly focused on symbolism. As in the military cemetery of Saint-Symphorien, a true haven of peace, where Commonwealth and German graves are now united for eternity.
  • Difference in height
    230.42 m
  • Documentation
    GPX / KML files allow you to export the trail of your hike to your GPS (or other navigation tool)
Points of interest
1 Commemorative plaques
Three plaques commemorate the sacrifice of Irish, Canadian and American soldiers. The fourth plaque embodies the town of Douai recognition, whose inhabitants found refuge in Mons in September 1918.
2 Place Charles Simonet
Charles Simonet worked for the British intelligence services. Betrayed, he was arrested on 20 June 1915 by the German police and executed on 6 November 1915 at the National shooting range in Brussels. The symbol of freedom erected in the centre of this small square pays tribute to him.
3 Commemorative Plaque of Place des Martyrs
Once at the centre of the village of Nimy, German troops took civilians hostage and used them as a human shields to cross Mons. Once on this square, exchanges of fire sowed confusion, and four hostages were killed instantly.
4 Mons Memorial Museum
A place of reflection, a museum, a space for examination, an interpretation centre, and more. This museum space invites visitors of all ages to ponder the many complex realities of wartime events.
5 Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery
A unique and highly symbolic place; here the remains of the first and last British soldiers who died in the First World War are buried. This cemetery also stands out for containing an almost equal number of British and German graves.
6 Battlefield site of Mont Panisel and Bois-là-haut
Bois-là-haut and Mont Panisel are two raised areas overlooking the city of Mons offering excellent observation points, especially towards Saint Symphorien. During the two battles of Mons, these hills would play host to some violent battles.
7 British and Canadian memorial to the two battles of Mons
The two battles of Mons in August 1914 and November 1918 are the first and last battles by British Empire troops during the First World War. Winston Churchill personally wrote the English text engraved on this monument.
8 The municipal cemetery in Mons
As early as 1914, the German military authorities decided to create an extension north of the Mons municipal cemetery. After the war, all the soldiers’ remains would be gathered in this cemetery. This includes 74 Russian soldiers, 9 Romanians, 2 Belgians, 3 Germans and 393 soldiers of the British Empire.
9 Obourg station memorial
At this point, on the morning of 23 August 1914, the first shots of the Battle of Mons were fired on either side of the canal. A total of 353 soldiers and 15 British officers were wounded or killed in this clash.
10 The Pont-Rail (railway bridge)
At the railway bridge, lieutenant Maurice James Dease V.C, the only able-bodied man left in his machine-gun section, had to use the weapon himself. He was wounded five times and finally evacuated to the ambulance where he died. The private Sydney Frank Godley volunteered, took the weapon and was left alone, thus securing the retreat of his comrades-in-arms. He was wounded, destroyed the weapon and threw it into the canal.

Under the arch of the railway bridge, a plaque is affixed with the following inscription:

“To the glorious memory of the Officers, NCO and men of the 4th BN Royal Fusiliers who held this sector of the British Front in the defense of the town of Mons. August 23/8/1914. This memorial marks the M.G. position where the first V.C.’s awarded during the war 14-18 were gained by Lt M.J. DEASE and Pte S.F. GODLEY.”
11 Place de Nimy Plaque
It commemorates German acts of violence in the Mons region where sniping triggered bloody reprisals. In Nimy, 22 civilians were killed. Quaregnon (66 civilians killed), Ville-Pommeroeul (14), Flénu (12) and Jemappes (11) were not spared.
12 14-18 Monument
14-18 Monument
13 The Pont-Route (road bridge)
You are on the left side of the salient, defended by the 4th Royal Fusiliers. The salient was created by the bend in the canal.

The 4th Royal Fusiliers defended positions between Nimy road bridge and Mons station, which included four bridges: the road bridge of the park entrance, the drawbridge of lock n° 6, the railway bridge of the Paris-Brussels line and the road bridge of the Chaussée de Bruxelles.
14 Monument to the Dead at Place du Parc
Just under a month after the city was liberated in 1918, the mayoral body examined the issue of building memorials. This involved erecting three monuments, the first to commemorate the battle of Mons of 23 and 24 August 1914, a second for the battle of 10 and 11 November and the last in memory of the Allied soldiers and those of Mons who died for their country, with reference to their names. The latter is visible at Place du Parc.

Then go down Place du Parc via rue du Parc. At the traffic lights, continue to the roundabout. Then turn right towards Ghlin – le Grand-Large. Follow the right bank of Canal du Centre as far as Avenue de la Sapinette.

Go past the Grand-Large pool and continue along Quai des Anglais towards Nimy.

Then go down rue des Viaducs on your left.

You’ll arrive near the railway bridge. A plaque is affixed under its arch, bearing an inscription in English.
15 Memorial plaque – Saint Waltrude Collegiate Church of Sainte Waltrude
In the southern transept, you’ll discover the memorial plaque to British troops, the most vivid reminder of this First World War.

On 21 February 1926, Bishop de Croÿ reported to the Fabrique Council on a proposal by the British Government to install a commemorative monument in Collegiate Church of Saint Waltrude. Based on the presented documents, the Council definitively adopted the proposal at its meeting of 21 May 1926. A supervisory authority, the Body of Mayors and Aldermen of the City of Mons in turn authorised the placement on 7 June 1926.

The official inauguration took place on 11 November 1926 “inside the church, on the left as you enter the door looking onto Place du Chapitre”. The plaque was later moved to the west entrance of the Collegiate (under the organs) probably between 1951 and 1956 (during works on the interior porches of the Collegiate). It was repositioned in the south transept, where it is found now, on the right as you enter this time.

Exit rue du Chapitre, then go down rue Notre-Dame Débonnaire on your right. Continue straight up to Place du Parc.
230 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 59 m
  • End altitude : 57 m
  • Maximum altitude : 100 m
  • Minimum altitude : 29 m
  • Total positive elevation : 230 m
  • Total negative elevation : -232 m
  • Max positive elevation : 31 m
  • Min positive elevation : -62 m
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