(Image courtesy of Musée 14/18 Alexandre Villedieu, Loos-en-Gohelle)

Battle of Loos Centenary - update on September events in France

Posted on centenarynews.com on 03 September 2015
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More details have been announced of commemorations in Northern France marking the centenary of the Battle of Loos in September/October 2015.

The main ceremonies, involving the Royal Irish Rifles, will take place in the town of Loos-en-Gohelle, near Lens, on Saturday September 26th.

There will also be one-day conference on the battle, which saw the first British use of poison gas in the Great War; remembrance inspired by the death in action of Rudyard Kipling's son, John; an air show and a series of exhibitions.

The attack in the Loos coalfields was Britain's largest Western Front offensive so far. Launched on September 25th 1915, it was known as the 'Big Push'. 

The assault was part of a French-led plan to break the German lines stretching across northern France from Artois to Champagne.

After several of weeks of fighting, the British had lost up to 60,000 men casualties (men killed, wounded or missing) and made negligible gains. German losses were around 26,000.

The Loos Memorial to missing British soldiers (Photo: Centenary News)

Updated summary of the Loos Centenary commemorations:

September 12/13: Reconstruction of a First World War military camp in Vendin-le-Viel, near Loos-en-Gohelle. Actors and musicians will relive the life of a village near the front. There will be a street parade on Sunday 13th.

September 12: Le Carnet Sublime, sound-and-light tribute to the front line and its combatants. Venue: Place de la Mairie, Vendin-le-Vieil 8.45pm.

September 18: Conference on the Battle of Loos with Gilles Payen, from Loos Sur les Traces de la Grande Guerre, and historian Simon Godley. 

The conference will focus on preparations for the battle, the strategy adopted and the British use of poison gas. Venue: Town Hall, Place de la République, Loos-en-Gohelle, 6.30pm.

September 19/20: Battle of Loos Air Show. Six hours of aerial displays based on the theme of the Battle of Loos. Venue:  Lens Benifontaine aerodrome.

September 25: Official commemoration marking the start of the Battle of Loos at St Mary's Cemetery in Haisnes, where John Kipling, son of author Rudyard Kipling, is buried.

Students from local schools will perform First World War-era songs and read excerpts from war diaries. Starts 4.30pm.

September 26: Day of commemorations featuring the London Irish Rifles. Assemble 10 am at Loos British Cemetery, Rue Salengro, Loos-en-Gohelle.

A remembrance ceremony will be followed by a parade through the streets of Loos, a plaque unveiling ceremony at midday, and a reception, with speeches at the Foyer Omer Caron (1.30pm).

There will also be a tribute at the former home of Emilienne Moreau, a young woman from Loos decorated by Britain and France for her acts of bravery in support of the Allies.

October 10:  Solemn tribute at Auchy-le-Mines, site of a strongly fortified German position known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

There will be a procession to the 9th Scottish Division and 46th (North Midland) Division Memorials, ending with a ceremony at the Paul Barrois Sports Complex. Children will sing hymns and French and English. The parade departs from Place Jean Jaurès, Auchy-Les-Mines at 2pm.

A series of exhibitions will run alongside the Loos commemorations, focussing on the 1915 campaign in Artois and today's work of remembrance by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. More details can be found here.

The Battle of Loos will also be marked in Scotland, with a weekend of commemorative events in Dundee from September 25-27th 2015. Scottish soldiers accounted for more than 7,000 of the British dead.

Sources: Béthune-Bruay Tourisme/Pas-de-Calais Tourisme

Images courtesy of Musée 14/18 Alexandre Villedieu, Loos-en- Gohelle (Battle of Loos poster); Centenary News (Loos Memorial)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News