Private Duncan Matheson Maclean's account of the Battle of Loos has been recorded for Blind Veterans UK by the actor, Tom Cotcher (pictured - courtesy of Blind Veterans UK)

Loos Centenary - charity republishes soldier's first-hand story of the battle

Posted on on 23 September 2015
Share |

A British charity founded for soldiers blinded during the First World War has republished a first-hand account of the Battle of Loos by a veteran of the 11th Royal Scots.

Private Duncan Matheson Maclean's story has been voiced by Scottish actor Tom Cotcher for Blind Veterans UK to commemorate those who fought and died at Loos in September 1915.

The soldier's description of 'one of the greatest battles of modern times' originally appeared in the charity's magazine, Review, a year after the battle.

Recalling the eve of the attack, Matheson Maclean wrote: "As one who has been fortunate enough to escape the fate of many others who took part in that famous charge, the cheerful way in which the boys looked on the coming struggle will remain in my memory for ever."

His account of the fighting at the fortified German position known as the 'Hohenzollern Redoubt' is remarkably frank.

"The loss of our Divisional and Brigade Commanders as well as three colonels and the staff naturally made us realise that we were in a tight fix.

"For five days we had one biscuit and one tin of bully beef among five of us, and to see the agony of the wounded and to hear their cry for water was sufficient to make us at that moment wish that we had never existed."

Blinded First World War veterans training to be poultry farmers at St Dunstan's, now Blind Veterans UK (Image courtesy of Blind Veterans UK)

Duncan Matheson Maclean was blinded, aged 21, by a sniper's bullet at Ypres on October 18th 1915.

He returned to Britain for treatment and entered St Dunstan's training centre in Regent's Park, London, to learn a trade in February 1916.

In September, the charity (today known as Blind Veterans UK) published his account of the Battle of Loos in its magazine, Review.

Matheson Maclean also married in 1916. After training in poultry farming, he and his wife ran their own farm near Reading in Berkshire.

Private Duncan Matheson Maclean's account of the Battle of Loos can be read in full on the Blind Veterans UK Blog. You can also listen to Tom Cotcher's reading of his words

Blind Veterans UK was founded as St Dunstan's in 1915 to help soldiers blinded in battle learn a trade, return to their families and lead independent lives. Its work continues today.

Information, and all images courtesy of Blind Veterans UK.

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News