HERITAGE: The Germans close in on Walter Young...

Battle of Loos
Battle of Loos

After a brief hiatus from bringing you extracts from the First World War memoirs of Walter Young, here he describes capturing one of two slagheaps between German and Allied trenches in the 1915 Battle of Loos...

‘We reached the top at last and peeped cautiously over.

Battle of Loos PNL-140829-154736001

Battle of Loos PNL-140829-154736001

‘It was a pitch dark night and if anybody had been on the opposite slope we could not have seen them unless they had been on the top.

‘From the summit of this first slag we commenced to go down the other side, the idea being to make a line all the way down that slope and up the slope of the second slagheap, of course facing east towards the enemy.

‘It was a particularly dark, miserable, wet evening and it was impossible to see more than a very little way in front.

‘We scrambled cautiously down the slope into the path running between. Our Sgt George Cannon was putting the men in their positions. I was near him as I was acting as Platoon runner at the time.

‘We began climbing the slope of the secdond slagheap. It was now a perilous position.

‘There were about 20 of us and we were now practically cut off from the British position by the first slagheap. The Germans commanded the eastern end of the path running between the two heaps while the top of the second slagheap looked right down on the German trenches below.

‘We had just about taken our positions, which stretched from the summit of the first slagheap to the top of the second. Young “Nancy” Fay occupied the position of honour and of most danger at the top of the second.

‘As we were then situated a German patrol might come from almost any direction. We were all as quiet as could be, any orders being given in whispers.

‘Suddenly we became conscious of a faint rustling in front of us. We could see nothing for a few moments but everybody had instinctively brought his rifle up to the aim.

‘Then, we discerned figures in front coming towards us. Now it was very dark and more so on the black slagheaps than on ordinary ground.

‘They may have been about 12 yards from us when we first saw them. They were led by a dexterous man who took quick short steps, closely followed by another man, with others behind. Now we had the advantage for we were still and could not be seen in the blackness until almost stumbled on...’

Read more of the Wal’s War memoirs next week.