Wal and the Allies capture a German trench after many die in the battlefield

Walter Young
Walter Young

After a brief hiatus from bringing you extracts from the First World War memoirs of Walter Young, we now bring you his description of the Battle of Loos...

‘We were awakened by our guns thundering away in earnest.

British infantry advancing through gas at Loos on September 25

British infantry advancing through gas at Loos on September 25

‘The Germans, who probably knew everything except the exact moment of attack, replied.

‘We came in for some attention. In particular I remember three shells that seemed to come right at me. They were huge things and seemed to burst right over where Ted Marriage and I crouched.

‘They came with a fearful swish and must have exploded within a few yards of us but beyond a few bricks from an old wall falling on us we escaped. But it was very close.

‘Our people had sent over gas and also a smoke shield and punctually to time the 6th and 7th went and did splendidly in taking three lines of trenches.

‘Many other regiments for several miles on our left had also attacked. The rumble and roar spread over many miles.

‘We were the extreme right of the attack and therefore had a flank to look after and the 7th Battalion were soon hard pressed from that quarter where the Germans were bombing back and our Regimental bombers were sent over and helped to keep them back.

‘We went forward and occupied our old front line trenches, but soon a message came for us to go over and support the 7th. I remember that run across. It was about 600 yards but it seemed interminable.

‘We went across in rushes of about 80 yards at a time, then down for a minute, then another rush, and so on.

‘The Germans must have seen us but their artillery got to work too late, and I remember after reaching the trench watching the shrapnel falling over the ground we had just crossed.

‘Our chief trouble came from the flank where one or two machine guns gave us a volley of bullets each time we rushed, but we lost very few.

‘A man near me cried out in pain with a bullet through the groin, but he was afterwards got back all right.

‘As we got near the German wire many of the 7th were stretched out dead with gaping wounds showing. The wonder is that with so much wire to get through the 7th got through at all.

‘This German trench was a splendid one...’

Find out how Wal’s journey continued in future extracts that will be published on this website.