The Battle of Loos


Loos is a small mining town between Lens and La Bassee in northern France.  But on 25thSeptember 1915 and in the days after, it was the centre of one of the most intense battles of the First World War.  Yet hitherto the only attention it has received from historians has usually been for its mistakes rather than for its extraordinary qualities.  The casualties were appalling, about 60,000 of which the majority died on the first day.  The main objective, a large scale breakthrough, was not achieved although some 8,000 yards of enemy trench were captured and, in some places, the enemy’s defences were penetrated up to 2 miles.  Yet if the initial gains had been exploited the course of the war might well have been different.


If courage and determination could have won the day by themselves, Loos would have surely been a success.  It is these qualities which Philip Warner’s gripping narrative reveals above all.  The author traced survivors from all parts of the line, infantry, gunners and officers and much of his account draws on veterans’ own accounts and diaries of the time, including Sir John French’s.  Through their moving words is revealed a truly horrific tale of war and proof of the determination and heroism that in the long run were to triumph.