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Webmatters : The Battle of Loos, 100th Anniversary Commemoration 2005
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Loos

100th Anniversary Commemoration

25th September 2015

The area around Loos-en-Gohelle, at one time an important mining community, saw three battles on its territory. In 1914 French soldiers were beaten back by the, at the time, all powerful German artillery. In 1917 The Canadian Corps swept to victory taking the heights of Hill 70 but then found themselves grinding to a halt in the face of urban street warfare in Lens.

In September 1915 the French High Command directed the British to support a French offensive against Vimy Ridge by attacking across the open plains of ‘Loos’.

It should be noted that the full name of the town is Loos-en-Gohelle — Loos is near Lille. That said it is locally known simply as Loos; which is pronounced : Loss.

Although we talk about the Battle of Loos the ground stretches over a number of adjoining communes all of whom organise or take part in commemorative events.

The opening commemoration for the centenary weekend took place at Haisnes, in the St Mary’s ADS Cemetery.

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Private Henry Harrison

Henry Harrison

The night before it had been announced that Henry Harrison, (Grave : V F 10) had been identified as the grandfather of Beetle, George Harrison. A wreath and a number of poppy crosses were evidence of the family having preceded us, away from the glare of publicity.

The advantage of this cemetery over Dud Corner and its memorial is that whilst listening to the speeches you can look out over the flat empty space that was the battlefield and imagine the difficulties of the British as they mounted their assault.

Speakers from the local community and on behalf of John Kipling’s regiment, the Irish Guards, spoke of the heavy losses not just of the opening three days but also into mid-October when fighting at the Hohenzollern Redoubt brought the battle to a close.

Music was provided by the Somme Battlefield Pipe Band and local school children read letters and poems from the time, before singing both national anthems.

Before leaving the cemetery The Sous-Préfet unveiled a pair of information panels near to the entrance.

 

Some photos from the ceremony

The VIPs arriving at St Mary's ADS Cemetery The two great crassiers dominate the horizon There were plenty of Glengarrys on view Supporters from Dundee Recalling John Kipling and the Irish Guards Sous-préfet de Béthune, Nicolas Honoré The Somme Battlefield Pipe Band Members of the Durand Group and Royal British Legion Unveiling the new information panels A model of Tower Bridge on its original site Living history soldiers from the Middlesex Regiment British Legion and Association standards M J-F Caron, Maire of Loos-en-Gohelle Maj (Ret) Peter Lough, Chairman of the LIR Association Honorary Chaplain to the Regiment, Rev G Piper Two Chelsea Penioners joined the onlookers The 'official' account A reminder of the part that nurses played

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26th September 2015

Organised by the town of Loos-en-Gohelle and the London Irish Rifles Association the weekend’s major commemoration took place at Loos British Cemetery on the morning of Saturday 26th September.

A gathering of thousands were in attendance, many having made the journey from Scotland, commemorating the fact that the town was for the most part taken by the 15th (Scottish) Division.

The London Irish Rifles’ Association brought along the famous ‘Football of Loos’ and it took pride of place for the drumhead service.

Footballs and footballers appear quite often in our battle accounts. Entire battalions were inspired by teams joining their ranks; footballs appeared at numerous points along the line at Christmas 1914 and on the Somme the 8th East Surrey Regiment would attack behind a ball per company.

As the chaplain remarked in his address, the London Irish Rifles had intended to use a number of footballs but all but one were gunned down by an officer who thought that they would be “a distraction”.

London Irish Rifles plaque at Loos en Gohelle

Following the service the parade marched through the streets of Loos, behind the pipes and drums of the London Irish and London Scottish, to the town memorial.

Here just to its left is a new memorial plaque dedicated to the London Irish Rifles who took part in the taking of the town on 25th September 1915.

Arriving in the town square M Jean-François Caron, Maire of Loos-en Gohelle, spoke about the town’s own heroine: Emilienne Moreau who assisted the British throughout the street battles. A new plaque was unveiled just outside where her house used to be on the corner of the street opposite the Hôtel de Ville.

The current town hall sits on the site of the old church. The original site of the Mairie was up the street to the right of the Moreau’s home and grocery store.

A model of Tower Bridge on its original site Living history soldiers from the Middlesex Regiment British Legion and Association standards M J-F Caron, Maire of Loos-en-Gohelle Maj (Ret) Peter Lough, Chairman of the LIR Association Honorary Chaplain to the Regiment, Rev G Piper Two Chelsea Penioners joined the onlookers The 'official' account A reminder of the part that nurses played The Last Post Followed by a lament The Football of Loos The two pensioners were more popular than the VIPs ! Marching out from Loos British Cemetery Unlike a hundred years ago the sun was in evidence all day Arriving at the town memorial The dedication of a plaque to the London Irish Rifles London Scottish and London Irish The 100th Anniversary plaque En route for the town centre Honoring Emilienne Moreau Telling the story of the heroine of Loos Lucky to have a balcony The memorial stone is at the site of the family shop

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