The Battle of Mons was a product of poor intelligence and coordination between the Allies in the wake of three defeats in rapid succession by the advancing Germans culminating in the Battle of Charleroi. General Lanrezac had ordered a general retreat of the French 5th Army but neglected to advise General French of the British Expeditionary Force. Thus, when German guns opened fire on British positions on 23 August, he was confronted with over twice the enemy force anticipated without the expected French protection of his right flank. The British Rifles could inflict heavy casualties on the initial German advance, but were forced to retreat when their command belatedly became aware of the scale of their numerical disadvantage, leaving them at serious risk of being enveloped. They were able to make an orderly retreat, and subsequently played a significant role of the First Battle of the Marne.