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Loos Memorial, France Loos Memorial, France
First Name: William Joseph Last Name: JOHNSON
Date of Death: 27/09/1915 Lived/Born In: Herne Hill
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers3
Memorial Site: Loos Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-36

Born-Portland

Enlisted-Lambeth

The Battle of Loos

This battle, fought by the British Army from 25th September, 1915 through to 13th October, was conducted along a six-and-a-half-mile front running north from the mining village of Loos on the outskirts of Lens in Northern France. It was the largest offensive carried out by the British so far in the war. The opening day involved an attack by six divisions, with others entering the fray as it progressed and it was part of a much wider offensive with the French launching their own attacks in Champagne and at Vimy. It was the first time that the British used gas during the war, despite their condemnation of the Germans for doing the same in April 1915. There were some encouraging results on the first day but no major breakthrough was achieved and in the successive days the offensive became mired in trench warfare. By mid-October the battle had petered out with the British having suffered over 60,000 casualties during its course.

On 27th September, 1915, 28th Division arrived at the Loos battlefield to relieve 9th Division who had been engaged in a desperate struggle around the Hohenzollern Redoubt. On 27th September, 1915, 85 Brigade moved forward to these new positions under enemy artillery and machine gun fire which resulted in over 30 casualties for 2nd East Surrey. They moved into the crowded trenches from where they were tasked with recovering Fosse 8 and The Quarries, both of which had been recaptured by an enemy counter attack. Their attack went in at 9.30am on 28th September, 1915, and for the rest of the day all four battalions of 85 Brigade, 2nd East Kent (Buffs), 3rd Middlesex, 2nd East Surrey and 3rd Royal Fusiliers were involved in fierce fighting, backed up by 1st Yorkshire Light Infantry and 1st York & Lancaster, both of 83 Brigade. But German machine gun power and hand grenade supremacy were too great and the small gains initially made were soon lost and by evening they were back in the Hohenzollern Redoubt and being hard pressed by the Germans who now had a footing in both Big Willie and Little Willie, their original front line trenches. The bitter fighting carried on all through the next day with an unremitting intensity in the German bombing attacks but the beleaguered battalions of 85 Brigade hung on until they were relieved by 84 Brigade during the evening of 30th September, 1915. Many of the deaths among 85 Brigade are recorded as being on 27th September, but they are more likely to have taken place on 28th September, 1915, when the attack went in.

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