Herbert LEE
Rank: Private
Number: 1949
Unit: C Company, 2nd Battalion ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 25 September 1915
Age: 39
Cemetery: Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Almost nothing is known of Herbert's life. He had been born in Stockport, the second son of the family who lived at 10 Grimshaw Street and was a regular soldier.

The 2nd Battalion went overseas in the autumn of 1914 but Herbert was not with them. For some reason, he did not join them on active service until 5 January 1915.

The Battle of Loos would be the first major engagement of the War to be nicknamed the "Big Push". Small scale by later engagements, six Army Divisions - over 100, 000 men would be available for the attack on the first day. The artillery bombardment of the German trenches started on 21 September and continued without a break until 5.50am on the 25th. At that moment a final "hurricane" bombardment was unleashed, together with the first British use of poison gas.

At 6.30, Herbert and all the other attackers went "over the top". In front of them, the gas was hanging in No Man's Land and the troops had donned their gas helmets. Pressing forward, they came through the cloud and into fresh air. Almost immediately, the German machine-gunners opened fire with devastating effect cutting down many of the Warwicks. However, those still able to do so pushed on and took the German front line and then the support trench was captured by 7.30. Reinforced by the 2nd Battalion, Queens Regiment, they pushed even further capturing positions at a quarry and sending patrols to the outskirts of St Elie. They were unable to make any further progress and dug-in here  to consolidate the gains.

The very advanced positions were held until after dark, when a withdrawal had to be ordered as a neighbouring Division had been forced into a retreat by a heavy German counterattack. The Warwicks fell back to the quarries which they held until midnight before taking up positions in a trench 400 yards to the west.

Casualties had been very heavy and the Battalion now had less than 150 men at duty. Of the remainder, 64 were known to be dead and 171 wounded. But 273 were still unaccounted for. Some of these would later report in wounded. The bodies of others would be recovered. But for many, like Herbert, their bodies would never be recovered and identified.

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