Monday, 19 May 2014

THE BATTLE OF LOOS



Fought in September 1915 this battle was part of a major offensive carried out by British and French forces against the Germans in the mining district around Loos and Lens.
The German positions were well fortified with concrete pillboxes containing machine guns.  The British forces included a number of New Army battalions, raised as a result of the very successful recruitment appeals made by Kitchener.
One of the newly raised units, 8th Battalion The Buffs formed part of the reserve and was thrown into the fighting in an attempt by Sir John French to exploit the initial gains. This battle was also the first time the British used gas, with limited success due to an early change in wind direction.
The attack managed to drive a salient some way into the German lines, but the reserves were badly organised and a heavy German counter-attack drove the British troops back.British losses were around 60,000 men killed, wounded and missing.  It is known two men from the parish were killed in action during the battle.  They were William Andrews and George Wells.  It seems likely Frederick Hammond died from wounds received during the opening of hostilities.



(9) Sergeant S/718 William John ANDREWS 8th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
William Albert Andrews was the only son of Mr William and Florence Andrews of Plumbston Farm, Minster, Ramsgate and also of Felderland, Worth. Born in Ash, he was a former pupil at the Cartwright School in Ash, from which he won a scholarship to Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich.
At the age of 18 he became an assistant teacher at a school in Cheriton, Folkestone, and afterwards returned to Ash to teach, where he became second master at the Cartwright School and later joined the Metropolitan Police.  He enlisted in the 4th Battalion of The Buffs at Tottenham, where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.  He was engaged for ten months as an instructor in the UK before transferring to 8th  (Service) Battalion The Buffs.
They were William Andrews and George Wells.  It seems likely Frederick Hammond died from wounds received during the opening of hostilities. 
The battalion had only been in France for three weeks, and had had no instruction under fire in the trenches.  The battalion went over the top at 1100 hrs on 26th September 1915 heading for the village of Hulluch, and upon reaching the German wire found it uncut.  Many of them were cut down by enfiladed fire from both flanks.   This was a precursor to the Somme battles to be fought a year later.  The battalion commander, Colonel Romer, was killed leading his men at the age of 64.  Casualties amounted to 24 officers and 610 other ranks.
William Andrews
At the end of August 1915 Sergeant Andrews with the 8th battalion moved across to France to join 24th Division.  Within a month the battalion were committed to the battle of Loos without first having a chance to reach the trenches and adjust to the conditions.  Here Colonel Romer who commanded the battalion addressed them, “I only ask you to remember that you are the Buffs.”
The battalion had only been in France for three weeks, and had had no instruction under fire in the trenches. They went over the top at 1100 hrs on 26th September 1915 heading for the village of Hulluch, and upon reaching the German wire found it uncut.  Many of them were cut down by enfiladed fire from both flanks. This was a precursor to the Somme battles to be fought a year later.  The battalion commander, Colonel Romer, was killed leading his men at the age of 64.  Casualties amounted to 24 officers and 610 other ranks.
William Andrews was killed in the attack, aged 24.  He was initially reported as missing, and it was not until a year later that it was found that he had been killed in action, and his family was notified.

He is commemorated on panel 15 –19 of the memorial at Loos, Nord, France.


George Hammond's gravestone

(10) Pte G/1873 Frederick George HAMMOND 7th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).  Frederick George Hammond was the son of Mr W.J. Hammond of Eden Cottage, Minster, Ramsgate.  He was born in Ash, and was a pupil at Westmarsh School. He enlisted at Minster. He died of wounds on 29th September 1915, and is buried in Derancourt Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.  (plot B.4.). It is believed he received his wounds on 1st September when a German mine was exploded under The Buffs’ front line trench, killing four and wounding five, with six missing, from ‘D’ company.  This was followed by a small attack, which the battalion repulsed in their first action. His brother Albert William Hammond also died from wounds on 23rd July 1917, while a prisoner of war in Germany.  He also served in 7th Battalion The Buffs.(Westmarsh War Memorial).  



11) Pte G/188 George Frederick WELLS 6th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).   George Frederick Wells was the son of Frederick and Sarah Wells of Lime Cottage, Ash.  He was born in the village and indeed enlisted there.  He was killed in action on 13th Ocotber, 1915, at the age of 22, in the fighting at Hulluch, during the battle of Loos. The attack on the German line was intended to be covered by smoke, which unfortunately blew away before it could conceal the assault.  The German wire was uncut, and devastating machine-gun fire created havoc amongst the British infantry as they tried to go forward.The battalion lost heavily during the attack; ten officers were killed and 400 other ranks either killed, wounded or missing. He is commemorated on panel 15 – 19 of the Loos memorial. 

 

 


   




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