Webmatters Title
Webmatters : The Battle of Loos, the 28th Division
Rough Map of Area

Loos

28th Division

The war in Europe had required the recall of numerous battalions from the far reaches of the British Empire. On their arrival back in Britain these regular army units were formed into three Divisions (27th – 29th). Any shortfalls in manpower were made up by bringing in Territorial battalions from elsewhere.

The 28th was formed around Winchester in December 1914 and was on its way to Belgium by mid-January 1915. It was heavily engaged during the 2nd Battle of Ypres suffering heavy casualties. It was then assigned to the area around St Eloi where it remained until relieved by the 2nd Canadian Division on 20th-22nd September. The soldiers hopes for a quiet period in Second Army’s reserve were not to be granted.

On the 26th September 1915 the Division was given its orders to march from Bailleul and relieve the 9th (Scottish) Division at the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

28th September 1915

The previous night’s events had left the 85th Brigade hanging on to the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The Germans had managed to gain much of Little Willie Trench to the north whilst all attempts to push them from the Dump had failed.

The Dump, remained the key to the area and at 0930 hours the 2nd Bn Buffs and 3rd Bn Middlesex Regiment attempted to gain the slag heap. The Middlesex on the right fought their way along South Face Trench and into Dump Trench but soon ran out of grenades and were forced back. Some of the Buffs reached the Dump but were overcome by heavy machine gun fire. It was impossible to break through the defences and get to grips with the enemy.

The battle raged on throughout the day and into the next when rain began falling, turning much of the ground into a mire.

On the 29th September the 83rd Brigade took over the lines of the 22nd Brigade opposite the Quarries and the following evening, having spent a trying time in the redoubt the 85th Brigade were relieved by the 84th.

The fighting continued in the trenches with each side trying to oust the other — and the Germans tending to gain the upper hand in the encounters. Inexorably they advanced, most of Little Willie Trench fell to them and then the eastern sector of the redoubt itself. By the morning of 3rd October the British were clinging to a section of Big Willie Trench — the rest had been retaken.

 

Reorganisation

In their talks following the failure of the XI Corps’ attacks the French and British High Commands had decided that the British needed to continue their assault on the German Second Line but to do so they needed relieving in Loos.

To this end the 47th (London) Division and 2nd Brigade (1st Division) now holding Loos village were replaced by the French 152e and 17e Divisions d’Infanterie.

The 21st and 24th Divisions were withdrawn for further training and replaced in XI Corps by the 12th (Eastern) and 46th (North Midland) Divisions.

On the night of the 4th/5th October the IV Corps had the 1st Division (recently returned from I Corps) on the left of the French from the area of Chalet Wood north to the Vermelles – Hulluch Road.

On its left, and taking over part of I Corps area, was XI Corps with 12th (Eastern) Division opposite Hulluch and the Guards Division replacing the 28th Division facing the Hohenzollern Redoubt and the Dump.

7th Division (I Corps) held the line from the Vermelles РAuchy Road to the La Bass̩e Canal, whilst the Indian Corps now covered all of the far side.

Lt General Richard Haking commanding XI Corps was ordered to make preparations to retake the Quarries and Hohenzollern Redoubt. Once again gas would be used.