The Battle Of Loos

The largest battle of WW1 in 1915 and ultimately a very heavy defeat for the British. Featuring twenty three Blencowe men , including two brothers who served alongside each other. The Commander of the British forces General Haig mistakenly thought this would be a great victory (even one to end the war) but without the planning, adequate Artillery fire and specific target maps of advancement. Haig thought the first use of the gas by the British would devastate the Germans but it did not. The British had 60,000 casualties compared to the Germans 26,000 which in itself tells of the outcome. The BEF commander Gen. Sir John French lost his command as a result of the failure of the battle and Haig inherited the role from then on.

The battle was fought in an industrial, coal mining area on a rather limited battlefield of not more than approximately 10 x 10 km. The Gohelle Plain offers an open, flat country, offering no cover at all, partly surrounded by slag heaps, and dominated by the Double Crassier, west of Loos. In wartimes another landmark dominated the landscape; a steel construction of a mine winding gear in the centre of Loos, which the British soldiers called the Tower Bridge. (source http://pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/)

The Blencowe men who fought in this battle were;

Name

Regiment

Division

Blincow John H 1886

2nd Worcestershire Regt.

2nd Division

Blencoe William 1893

1st Hertfordshire Regt

2nd Division

Blencowe Ernest E 1891

2nd Worcestershire Regt.

2nd Division

Blencowe George E 1896

4th Field Ambulance RAMC

2nd Division

Blinko Albert G D 1894

24th London Regt.

47th Division

Blencowe Alfred 1896

23rd London Regt.

47th Division

Blincow Stanley J 1895

1/7th Brigade RFA

47th Division

Blincow William F 1891

1/7th Brigade RFA

47th Division

Blinco John T 1897

1/5th Sherwood Foresters

46th Division

Blinco Arthur A 1876

3rd North Midland Bde. RFA

46th Division

Blencoe Arthur H 1893

39th Bde. RFA

1st Division

Blencowe William J 1886

XIV Bde. RHA

7th Division

Blencoe Arthur H 1893

39th Bde. RFA

1st Division

Blencowe James W 1895

7th KOYLI

20th Division

Blinco James E 1886

9th South Staffs Regt.

23rd Division

Blencowe Henry 1887

52nd Bde. RFA

9th Division

Blinco William J 1885

ASC

3rd Cavalry

Blincow John 1889 MM

9th Gordon Highlanders

15th Division

Blincow Joe 1894

1st Bn. Grenadier Guards

Guards

Blincow Arthur J 1899

1st Bn. Grenadier Guards

Guards

Blinco Charles W DCM (Possible)

9th Bn Suffolks

24th Division

Blincowe John

8th East Kent  Regt.

24th Division

Blinco Alfred

13th Middlesex Regt.

24th Division

Blinko Horace 

13th Middlesex Regt.

24th Division

Blincoe James E 1886

9th South Staffordshire Regt.

23rd Division

Recommended for the DCM at Loos

Alfred Blinco 13th Middlesex recommended for Distinguished Conduct Medal. “During the afternoon of Monday 27th September, a part of the 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders passed across the front line held by A and D Companies and suffered very heavy casualties about 500 yards in front of our line. One of their NCO’s called for volunteers to bring in wounded who were lying out under heavy fire – and at least 20 men went and brought in Colonel Mackenzie, a Major and about 20 wounded men, some of these men were severely wounded in doing so. – No.4761 Pte G. Francis mortally. The following were recommended for the D.C.M.:-
No. 1350 Coy Sergt. Major Blinco
No. 970 Coy Sergt. Major Llewellyn (wounded) for taking up ammunition under heavy fire. Awarded D.C.M.
No. 1160 Sergt. F.G. Triggs
No. 4872 L/Cpl E.G. Ford
No. 8052 Pte Monk
No. 4532 Pte G. Graham
No. 10347 Pte J. Cooper (wounded) awarded D.C.M.”

Wounded?  at loos.

Its seems unlikely given the casualties at Loos that Blencowe men were not gassed or wounded three men though have recorded events close but not definitely from the Loos battle.

  1. Its thought that John H Blincow (Harry) 2nd Worcesters was wounded at Loos in September 1915 but it was 8th Jan. 1916 before he was discharged unfit to serve because of wounds so he may have sustained a wound after Loos and in a period where there was no great battle but the constant trench warfare of shelling etc .
  2. Arthur H Blencoe 39th Brigade RFA is reported wounded (Dunshot wound) on 20th Nov. 1915 this is possibly correct bur could be dated incorrectly and from the Loos campaign.
  3. Stanley J. Blincow 1/7th Brigade RFA was involved in the 7th Divisonal RFA bombardment of the German positions. The Division used gas canisters in the attack on the 25th fired by artillery so that the gas cloud drifted towards enemy lines. This could be the action in which Stanley was wounded as he is on 2nd Jan 1916 discharged to Harfleur a RHA/RA base depot in Le Havre. He is Classified T.B. which I take to mean temporarily a ‘B’ class medical assessment.
Artillery Before the Battle
The length and intensity of the Artillery Barrage was criticised after battle. Even though 110 heavy guns, 84 guns and howitzers were used.
The length and intensity of the preliminary Artillery Barrage was criticised after the battle. Even though 110 heavy guns, 84 guns and howitzers were used.
First Battle for the british to use Gas
Scottish troops preparing for a gas attack, 1915
Scottish troops preparing for a gas attack, 1915. the primitive apparatus used at this time by the British was inadequate and caused many gas induced casualties and even deaths.

The use of Gas in the attack phase was partially successful the delivery being done by opening gas canisters and expecting the wind to blow towards the enemy meant weather conditions needed to be ideal. However gas blew back into the british troops and they suffered from the chlorine gas.

Gas flowing across the battlefield at Loos 1915
Gas flowing across the battlefield at Loos 1915
Day one-The beginning

At 6.30a.m. on 25 September 1915, following a forty-minute discharge of chlorine gas and smoke, the first waves of six British divisions clambered out of their trenches and began making their way across no-man’s-land. Simultaneously, British artillery, which had been bombarding the German front line with shrapnel, lifted to engage targets further into the enemy position. This marked the beginning of First Army’s main ‘all-out’ infantry assault south of the La Bassée canal. Fighting was heavy and continuous all morning. Although stubborn German resistance slowed and even stopped the advance in places, some striking success was achieved on the southern sector of the battlefield. 47th (London) Division took all its objectives with relatively light casualties, and in what was the most spectacular advance of the day, 15th (Scottish) Division stormed two German defensive lines, captured the village of Loos and took Hill 70.

Loos 1915 book cover

The extract above is from this excellent book published in 2008 by Dr Nick Lloyd I recommend to those that want a full undestanding of this battle.

Podcast

In 2015 Dr. Nick Lloyd of the Defence Academy of United Kingdom gave a speech that was podcast it gives a very succint and new view about this great battle.  To listen to Nick’s analysis of this battle press Play.

Loos Gallery