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THE DEVONS AT LOOS - THE OFFICIAL ACCOUNT

 

From the Teignmouth Post

26 May 1916

"As many families in Teignmouth have relatives in the 8th Devons which took part in the fighting around Loos in September and October last , the following account, which has been prepared by the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence, will no doubt be read with interest.

The great attack launched on September 25th 1915, by the British Army against the German lines from Loos to the La Bassée Canal, marked the resumption of the Allied offensive, which more than three months earlier had been brought to a standstill. The frontage on which the main attack of the British forces was to be delivered was that between the Bethune - La Bassée Canal and the point just south of Grenay, where the right of the First Army joined the left of the French Army under General Foch.

This is the official record of the part played in the fight by the Devons:"

 

 

The Official Account of the part played by the Devonshire Regiment in the Loos sector:

Compiled by the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence:

Date: Spring 1916

 

"On the right, the 20th Brigade had carried the German front trenches within half-an-hour of the attack starting. Its leading battalions were the 2nd Gordons (the old 92nd Highlanders) and the 8th Devons, one of the two service battalions which had taken the place of the Guards' battalions formerly in the brigade.

 

Despite the loss of most of their officers, these two units pressed on vigorously, capturing eight field guns and more prisoners; they were only checked when they reached the point where the Hulloch-Vermelles road crosses that from Lens to La Bassée. Here, well ahead of the troops on either flank and reduced to a mere handful, they came to a standstill. In support of them came up the 6th Gordons, a Territorial battalion from Banff and Donside, and some of the 9th Devons and 2nd Borderers. The bulk of the 9th Devons and Borderers halted at the gun positions where they dug in, linking up the emplacements into a continuous trench, hereafter known as Gun Trench. To this point, two battalions of the 21st Brigade, the 2nd Borderers and 2nd Wiltshires, made their way a little later.

 

By mid-day then, the first corps, though checked on the left, had secured the whole of the German Front from the Hohenzollern Redoubt south, had captured nine field guns and many prisoners, and had pushed forward to the second line at three points. But it had used up all its reserves; for the 2nd Yorkshire and the 4th Cameron Highlanders of the 21st Brigade, had moved up to the  Quarries in support of the 22nd, and the 2nd Scots Fusiliers were the only battalion of the Seventh Division left in hand.

 

Some of the battalions had been terribly reduced. The loss in officers had been especially heavy; all but three officers of the 8th Devons fell before the front line was taken, and several other units had been little less fortunate. Moreover, the different brigades which had reached the German second line were not effectually linked up. Advancing from a central position, they had diverged outwards as they advanced, and were all alike held up by formidable defences and lack of support. To move supports across the open is to expose them to heavy fire; the Bedfords and Wiltshires had 200 casualties apiece from shell fire as they moved to Gun Trench after it had been taken; to move up communication trenches is safer, but, as the 27th Brigade had found, very tedious."

 

 
 
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