Battle of Loos

German field gun captured at Loos. (Postcard image by St. Andrew's Service)

German field gun captured at Loos.
(Postcard image by St. Andrew’s Service)

War and War Trophies

Prior to the attack 533 British guns fired more than 250,000 shells during a four-day bombardment commencing 21 September 1915. At the time, the engagement was the largest Great War British offensive. The battle also marked the first use of gas by the British Army. Specialized units of the Royal Engineers released chlorine gas one hour prior to the assault. Weather was, however, not accommodating and gas blew back towards the British lines as well as settling in no-man’s land where the gas created considerable confusion.

The offensive proved that the German lines could be penetrated however the ability of the British Army to exploit attacks into major successes proved difficult. In the future to achieve success heavier bombardments would be required as well as more ammunition and better communications. More than 50,000 British soldiers became casualties at Loos. German losses were about half the British total.

Twenty-one Victoria Crosses were awarded for actions during the battle, including Piper Daniel Laidlaw (King’s Own Scottish Borderers), George Maling (Royal Army Medical Corps) and Kulbir Thapa (2nd Battalion, 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Captured German guns from the Battle of Loos 25 September – 8 October 1915 were sent to England where some were publicly displayed in Horse Guards Parade near to Trafalgar Square. These events, exhibiting captured enemy equipment, were popular with the public and continued throughout the Great War. Many of the captured guns were later distributed to communities where they were displayed as trophies of war. In Canada two fields guns remain on exhibit in Esquimalt Memorial Park, British Columbia. Guns such as these are rare survivors as many of these community souvenirs were scraped during the Second World War to produce metals required for the war effort. The 77 mm field gun, shown in the postcard, was captured by the 19th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment.

Captured German Guns on Show – London (1914-1918). British Pathe.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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