Mons is the capital of the
Hainault Region of Belgium, and for the British became the scene of their first
battles in the war as well as the last. In modern times SHAPE (Supreme
Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe) has been located not far from the town
Unlike some of the other towns in Belgium where one name is
much the same as the other, the Flemish name for Mons is Bergen (Both
meaning: a mountain). Be aware of this if approaching from Flanders.
core of the town is not large, and runs in a number of rings. There is a
concerted effort to keep vehicles out of the narrow streets, and parking
regulations are strictly enforced. You will only get 20 minutes at most of the
road side parking bays. Use one of the car parks on the edge of the town and
Besides, the one way system is a bit of a nightmare.
Dominating the Grand Place is the Hotel de
Ville which took hundreds of years to complete after funds ran out after its
initial construction in 1458. Outside on the front wall is a small figure of a
monkey: the Singe du Grand Garde. Stroking his head brings you good luck -
honest, the guide books all say so. Inside area quartet of museums, including
the Musee de Guerre covering the four battles from the two World Wars. At the
gateway are a number of memorial plaques including one to the Canadian 3rd
Division who liberated the town on Armistice Day 1918.
The Battle for Mons