Published By John Davies
Loos Offensive. 25 – 28 September 1915
GOOGLE MAP – centres on Google satellite view of Vermelles, just behind the British lines during the Battle of Loos and to the north of Loos.
The Loos Offensive was chiefly a French lead operation. The French were to attack to the south near to Verdun, the British attack was intended to draw and divert German forces away and to breakthrough the German lines and end the stalemate of the trenches. The battle was the first time the new service battalions would go into action and was also the first use of gas by the British. As part of the Offensive there were also British diversionary actions at Neuve Chapelle and Ypres.
Loos was a coal mining area, the district is flat and expansive, punctuated by slag heaps and pit heads; these were held by the Germans giving them excellent observation and wide arcs of fire. The battlefront was about 10 miles reaching south from Cuinchy to Grenay. Zero hour was at 6.30am on 25 September 1915. After 2 days fighting the offensive was repulsed and the British had withdrawn back to their original front line with no material gains and nearly 60000 casualties of which 6300 were fatalities on the first day.
The Offensive failed for many reasons. There were too few artillery pieces and insufficient shells; too much dependence on the gas which was also in short supply and unreliable – in one instance the wind direction changed and the gas drifted back over British lines. Many of the troops had also only recently arrived in France and had very little ‘trench’ experience. The reserve troops were held too far back and could not get forward in time to exploit the initial gains. There was also very little attempt made to hide or deceive the enemy about the assault. As a consequence of the failure Sir John French was sacked as C in C and replaced by Douglas Haig.
Men on the Gates at Battle of Loos.
Diversionary action at Ypres. / Railway Wood. 5 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 25 Sept. 1915
Diversionary action at Bethune. / Neuve Chapelle. 6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 25 September 1915.
B&O 1915. Loos Offensive. 25 – 28 September 1915. TOP PAGE.