Remembering the Battle of Loos

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Councillor Ted Thompson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Depute Leader and Provost of Dumfries and Nithsdale, and Councillor Archie Dryburgh, the Council’s Armed Forces Champion, attended centenary commemorations for the Battle of Loos in Dundee at the weekend.

Councillor Dryburgh said: “The Battle of Loos had devastating consequences for the whole of Scotland but particularly for the Dundee area. While contemplating the collective national and regional affect, it’s important to contemplate the tragic impact of the battle on so many individual families who lost loved ones. The commemorative events were dignified and poignant and it was a privilege to represent the people of Dumfries and Galloway.”

One of the biggest battles of WW1, the Battle of Loos was an attempt to break through the German defences in northern France. The first day of the battle, 25 September 1915 was a partial success, despite huge loss of life: 8,000 being killed in the first four hours.

The Germans reinforced and caused carnage amidst allied infantry, mowing them down with machine guns as they attempted to advance.

Around 30,000 Scots soldiers from 45 battalions fought in the battle. The battle went on until 18 October 1915, by when an estimated 21,000 soldiers on the British side were dead. Around 7,000 of these were Scots.

The battle had significant long-term consequences for Dundee and the surrounding area as a large number of casualties were from the Dundee-based 4th Black Watch. The Battle of Loos is regarded as the city’s biggest tragedy. The annual report of Dundee Parish Church stated ‘Of all the black days that 1915 brought us, the blackest was that day in September when the news came that practically all the officers and a great number of the men of the 4th Black Watch, Dundee’s Own, were either killed wounded or prisoners.

Included in the dead on the third day of the battle, was Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, brother of the grandmother of Prince Charles, who attended the commemorations as Royal Colonel of the 3rd Battalion (The Black Watch), the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The commemorations started on Friday with a beacon being lit at the war memorial at the summit of The Law. On Saturday, an ecumenical service in the City Square followed a parade of 250 current service personnel and 300 veterans.