Friday, 25 September 2015

25th Sept 1915 ! The Battle of Loos

25th September 1915 - 9th RWF War Diary (Written by Major Barrard)


Actual photo taken at Loos (not the RWF)
  • A very bad day for the Commonwealth Troops 
  • The Battle of Loos was the largest British battle that took place in 1915 on the Western Front during World War I. It was the first time the British used poison gas and the first mass engagement of New Army units. The British battle was part of the attempt by the Allies to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement. Despite improved methods, more ammunition and better equipment, the Franco-British attacks were contained by the German armies, except for local losses of ground. British casualties at Loos were about twice as high as German casualties.
  • 59,247 Commonwealth casualties 
  • 9th Royal Welch Fusiliers, of the 806 officers and men who went into battle,  and reported on the day of battle  was, 24 know died, 129 wounded and 85 missing (many of these were dead) 
  • Gas used for the first by the British and should not have been used as the wind in the wrong direction!

TIME - 04:15

  • I meet the CO in A company mess at 4:15am & had some coffee. I ten went back to my dug-out.
  • It was drizzling & what breeze there was seemed unfavourable for the use of gas; 
  • I began to think the attack would be postponed.
  • Brigade HQ moved to Advanced Report Centre. 

TIME - 05:15

  • Our artillery started a furious bombardment. 
  • I hurried down the firing line & found smoke candles at work.  
  • On my way there I observed a mile to my south a thin cloud floating slowly toward the German lines; this I took to be the asphyxiating gas. 
  • The breeze was still very slight but seemed to have turned temporarily in our favour.  
  • It was not to be  depend dent on however & too weak & I am not of the opinion that the pall of smoke in front of our lines did more harm than good as it brought on inactivity on the part of our artillery.  
  • The smoke was intended to supplement the gas and mislead the Hun into believing that there was an immense about of that commodity coming toward them.

TIME - 06:50

  • None of our men were injured by our gas, though I believe a few of the 6th Wilts suffered. 
  • About this time I was informed that a sheaf of rockets had been sent up by the Brigade, intermating the commencement of the attack.  
  • I personally did not see it.  
  • From subsequent inquiries I learnt the following which bore out to some extent the message sent by the Artillery Observation Officer at 06:25 that the Royal Welsh already attaching.  
  • Col Madocks remained at A company mess till the sheaf of rockets went up, he then told Captain Hoyle, commanding A company  to commence the attack (A company was to be directing) Captain Hoyle proceeded to No 10 sap but he has already at 06:15 had his men out in the sap & I think it is probable that his leading  platoon was already extended, lying down, in line with the head of the sap, ready to advance.

TIME -  about 07:00

  • The order had been issued to be ready to commence the attack at 06:30. This order might be differently interpreted. 
  • It should have mad it clear whether troops were to enter the sap or remain behind the parapet till 6:30.  
  • The leading platoon of A company being extended in front of the sap it is possible an advance was made before Capt Hoyle returned from Hd Qrs. 
  •  At any rate an officer from B company on the left whose company was keeping in touch with A looked at his watch when the advance commenced and it was 6:20. 
  • The pall of smoke was very thick; Capt Hoyle had orders for direct flank to march on a certain willow tree but was now hidden from view and it is believed he diverged to the right in front of the 9th Welch  
  • The Artillery observation officer who had wired down the attack had commenced, about this time surpassed himself by phoning that the 9th R W Fus. had taken the 1st line of trenches
  • This must have been an effort of the imagination on his part owing to the smoke, nothing could be seen.  
  • Messages like this led to wild rumours after the action of spies having tapped the wires.  
  • At about 6:50 I meet Lt Col Madocks and his adjutant in one of the centre bays.  He seemed very optimistic and asked if D company was out yet; if so we would follow. 
  • The arrangements for the attach were as under;-.

TIME - about 07:15

  • I reported that D company was not yet out.  
  • A quarter of an hour later Captain Hogg the Adjutant again went to enquire & in the meantime Col Madocks ho was observing over the parapet was struck by a shot in the temple & fell dead at my feet.  
  • It was evident by this time that things were not going well; not much could be seen on account of the smoke but there were rumors of the saps being encumbered with wounded which accounted for the delay with D company - 
  • I had seen capt Acton commanding D company a few minutes before just outside our wire entanglement & suggested to Capt Hogg to get into the communications with him & obtain his option;  
  • Capt Hogg had gone about 10 minutes when i received information that both he and Capt Acton had been shot.

TIME - about 07:20

  • The 6th Wilts were now beginning to arrive; to avoid a useless sacrifice of life I gave orders for a retirement.  
  • Col Jeffreys, comdg 6th Wilts. Who arrived shortly afterwards concurred with me. 
  •  Our action north of the La Basse canal was intended as a demonstration, the principal attach being carried out south of the canal; our energetic action was the means of withdrawing several battalions of reserve to our front, which the germans could have utilised further South I 

TIME - about 07:20 

  • But could not this advantage have been gained without such loss of life? 
  • Undoubtedly both GOC 58th Brigade & Col Madocks had been misled as to the damage our artillery had effected on the enemy's wire after several days bombardment also the effect it had on the enemy's moral' the effect on the wire was, as a matter of fact, negligible & the onus of not reporting this, of not making a more thorough reconnaissance rests on the companies who were in the front line; it was unduly optimistic to suppose that the enemy's morale had gone, as during the bombardment the Germans are adept at burrowing themselves into specially deep dugouts or keeping out of the way

TIME - about 07:20 

  • It was confidently believed that we should have no difficulty in rushing across the intervening space and capturing the German front & support trenches. 
  • When the time came for to carry this out we found ourselves up against a row of impenetrable wire and intervening ground swept by half-a-dozen machine guns.
  • C company under Capt K. Nicholl had been detailed to act as a flanking party & move up Fife Road. 
  • They suffered severely from enemy's artillery which was most accurate. 

TIME - about 10:00 

  • The remainder of the morning was taken up in moving the remnants of the battalion to the reserve line.  
  • During the hours of darkness many of the wounded were brought back in.   


The following list of casualties on Sept 25th;-  
  • Killed (officers) - Lt Col H.J Madocks, Capt CA Acton, Capt EG Payne, Capt LS Hogg, Capt BWE Hoyle, Lt CFJ Symons, 2nd Lt R.J. Williams,
  • Officers wounded - Lt HJ Williams, Lt GH Higham, 2nd Lt C Fawcett
Other rank and file

  • HD Qrs, 2 wounded, 3 missing
  • A Comp 10 killed, 45 wounded 28 missing
  • B Comp 2 killed 23 wounded, 44 missing
  • C Comp 5 killed 28 wounded 3 missing believed buried
  • D Comp 7 killed 31 wounded 7 missing
  • Total 24 killed, 129 wounded, 85 missing
  • Total casualties officers & men 249
  • It is believed a few of the missing are prisoners of war.  
  • The numbers that went into action were;- 25 Officers, 781 rank and file

Some of those mentioned on the Loos Memorial

Thursday, 24 September 2015

24th Sept 1915, 1 Day before Battle


  • Things are not going well - wire not cut and the weather very bad and trenches full of mud.

24th September 1915 - 9th RWF War Diary

  • Brigade HQ moved to Advanced Report Centre. 
  • Very wet and muddy. Our artillery continued to bombard. 
  • We had been in trenches since Aug 30th and our total casualties up to the evening of the 24th had been 2 men killed and 11 wounded.  
  • On the evening of the 24th Lt Col Madocks and his battalion Hd Quarters moved up to A company mess in the firing line. 
  • He asked me (Major C Burrard) to meet him there at 4:15am the next morning.
  •  I retired for the night to a disused dug-out I found in one of the old support trenches. 
  • It was drizzling.

58th Brigade Head Quarters entry for the same day

  • The brigade headquarters moved to Advanced report centre, LE PLANTAN POST, (WELSH CHAPEL) at 4 pm . Headquarters 86 battalion RFA, (1 Indian 9Inf?) also ????? at the same place. 
  • A very wet day
  • Trenches very muddy and bad.
  • Bombardment continued   


Images - who's who

Major Burrard - He wrote the 9th RWF Diary.  He was damning in his after action report of why the battle went ahead. He was responsible for call off the attack.  He had no further promotion but survived the war

Lt Col. H J Madocks - Commander of the 9th RWF - He would be killed on the 25th Sept 1915

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

23rd Sept 1915 (Thu) 2 Day before the battle!


  • The Brigade is starting  to have serious questions about the wire being cut

23rd September 1915 (Thu) - 9th RWF War Diary

  • 1 killed, 2 wounded, 
  • Bombardment still continuing

58th Brigade Head Quarters entry for the same day

  • Reports as to wire cutting still doubtful. 
  • A count of 6 High explosive shells fell about 300 yards from BHQ at 2:30pm.   


  • RWF - 1 killed, 1 wounded
  • Welch - Lieutenant L L Trehearne wounded, 8 men wounded
  • Operation order 11 issued  


  • The have serous questions about the wire being cut

Images - what they would be seeing

22nd Sept 1915 (wed) (3 days left before the battle)

22nd September 1915 (Wed) - 9th RWF War Diary

  • 4 wounded. 
  • Our artillery bombarding.

58th Brigade Head Quarters entry for the same day

  • Bombardment been used with far results as his far could be ascertained, but observations from from trench was difficult. The enemy made very little reply to our guns - but dropped some half dozen high explosives shells ( believes to be  ?? 9Th)   on to armaments. 87 Bde RFA  (about 100 yards from BHG)  


  • Cheshire - 1 killed
  • RWF  - 4 wounded
  • Welch - 1 Killed, 1 wounded


Hand drawn map from the 58th Brigade archive

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

21st Sept 1915 Tue (3 days to go go before battle)

21st September 1915 (Tue) - 9th RWF War Diary

  • Our artillery very active.

58th Brigade Head Quarters entry for the same day

  • Artillery bombardment begins at 5.00 AM and continued throughout the day. Good deal of wire was reported as a cat and our machine guns and rifles fired at intervals throughout the night and prevented the enemy from carrying out any repairs. 
  •  The enemy made very little reply two our bombardment. 


  • Four men wounded of the nine. (9th Welch)


  • None


  • Clearly the germans are being softened up by the bombardment or so it was believed
  • Much focus on ensuring that barbed wire was destroyed but as we will see later this was not the case which had terrible results

  • The men are now aware of the impending battle to come. The noise would be deafening and they would have little sleep.
  • There are 100 Royal Welsh assigned to the battle and the have been given there position.


Equipment and how worn.
Blanket rolled 16 inch wide with two straps and buckles on to the big buckle of braces on shoulders. The end of forward should be next to body.
Haversack. containing iron ration, Completed in its bag also second iron ration, one pair of socks, knife, fork and spoon, towel and soap, fastened to buckle by buckles of brace's underneath the blanket. Two buckles on top of haversack To be drawn under flag up by a piece of string. Waterproof sheet folded same width as a the haversack . 
mess tins which should have food as well, and by jammed with paper to prevent rustling, if necessary, fastened to bolt and haversack with valise Straps on the bolt, through mess tin handle on the two lower buckles at the bottom of the haversack. 
Drinking mug to be carried on fastening strap of water bottle.
Smoke helmet to hang over her left shoulder resting just above water bottle.
One bandolier to be carried slung on each shoulder. 
Water bottle, entrenching implement, bayonet and scabbard as usual.

Image of dress code 

20th Sept 1915 (Monday) 5 DAYS BEFORE THE BATTLE

20th September 1915 (Mon)- 9th RWF War Diary

  • The 9th R. W. Fus. Moved into IND I (b) occupying the trenches from Barton Road to Fife Road.
  • The 9th Welsh on our right, and the 9th Cheshire's and the 6th Wilts being in Brigade Reserve.

58th Brigade Head Quarters entry for the same day

  • In view of forthcoming operations, 56 Bde took over IND.1C subsection and portion of IND.1B (as far as BARTON ROAD)
  • 9 RW Fusiliers moved into IND.1B, occupying from BARTON ROAD to FIFE ROAD.
  • 9th Welsh took over occupying from BATON ROAD to GRENADIER ROAD
  • 9th Cheshire moved back to intermediate line
  • 6th Wilts moved to NORTHERN Point(?)
  • The relief was carried out without a hitch
  • conference of Commanding Officers was needed for there attention when the PLAN for the forthcoming operation was explained and discussed 
  • The instructions were finally prepared that night and to be ..... early on the 21th


  • Nothing recorded

  • See above

  • Things are starting to move along a pace now and the battalions are moved into position for the action in 5 days time

Friday, 18 September 2015

17th to 19th September 1915 (Fri - Sun) 6 DAYS BEFORE BATTLE

17 to19th September 1915 (Fri - Sun)- 9th RWF War Diary

  • Employed occasionally in working parties.

58th Brigade Head Quarters entry for the same day

  • Nothing of Tactical interest to record
  • There was a certain amount of shelling on both sides and trench mortars very active from enemy lines
  • Good deal of work on his lines(?)


  • 3 Killed
  • 10 wounded

  • None

  • None


I found this image of the 9th RW Fusiliers leaving for France 19th July 1915. Sam would be in this picture!!!