Thursday, September 25, 2008

Battle of the Day: The Battle of Loos, 1915

On this day in 1915, in North Eastern France, the British Army under General Haig launched an assault on German trenches after bombarding the position for four days with approximately 250,000 artillery shells.
On the morning of the attack the British used chlorine gas in pressurized cannisters to attempt to flush the Germans out. Confusion about the weather conditions and conflicting sets of orders resulted in the British accidentally gassing over 2000 of their own troops, and at least 7 died as a result.
As in so many battles on the western front in the First World War, at first it appeared that the attack was succeeding; but the decimation of the leading British units during the assault was followed by a masterful counter-attack from the Germans. By the end of the day, the reinforcements that were supposed to consolidate British gains were being used to prevent a disgraceful retreat.
The British lost 50,000 around men, the Germans lost 25,000.