' Stockport Soldiers who died 1914 - 1918 - Battle Report
Battle of Loos
Date: 3 October 1915
Regiment: 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment

25 September saw the opening of the Battle of Loos, south west of the French city of Lille. Despite heavy casualties, the British had success on the first day of "The Big Push", but the reserve troops had been held too far away from the front line to exploit the advantages and the attack bogged down over the coming days. By 30 September, the British were still in possession of a captured position known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The Cheshires had come from the reserve area some miles away to take over a section of the new front line during the night. The trenches, still full of the dead from previous days, were very shallow. Barricades were at each end of the 300 yard section with the enemy on the other side.

The next morning, an attempt was made to drive the Germans out, but they held fast. Both sides spent the day throwing grenades at each other, although fatalities were few. In the evening, another unsuccessful attempt was made to dislodge these troops and those occupying a trench only some 20 yards in front of the Cheshires. The Official History of the Cheshires says "there is no doubt that Brigade headquarters entirely failed to realise the conditions in and around the Redoubt and ordered attack after attack in a way that can only be described as ruthless and senseless."

On 3 October, the Germans attacked all along the 84th brigade front line, but were generally repulsed. The Cheshires put up a determined resistance. At one point, the commanding officer, Major Roddy, led a bayonet charge but this was met with a hail of bullets and they had to fall back to the relative safety of the trench. The Official History again reports "Brigade HQ ordered fresh attacks, but this was quite out of the question, having in view the exhaustion of the individuals and the congestion in the trenches. It was quite clear to anyone who visited the front line that further attacks were not feasible, even by fresh troops, until the congestion of wounded and dead had been overcome. Nevertheless, another attack was ordered....." This was carried out by an East Yorkshire Battalion and also failed.

Later in the morning, the Germans attacked on the Brigade left, driving through the neighbouring battalion and into the Cheshires. The War Diary reports "The enemy broke through part of the trench occupied by the Welch on our left flank and advanced with great rapidity, throwing hundreds of bomb, their bombers being supported by machine guns and rifle men." The Cheshires were pushed back along the trench until the attack finally faltered

148 Cheshires were killed during the day. They included Thomas Bell, Arthur Bowen, Joseph Burgess, Francis Callaghan, William Forshaw, Rodger Davenport, Arthur Gamble, Robert Gaskell, James Hynes, William Parratt, William Rawlinson and George Swift. Of the local men, only Joseph Burgess has a known grave.

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorial website)

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