Casualties in 1914-15

General Course of the War

1914

June 28

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

August 4

Germany invades Belgium and Britain declares war on Germany

 

August 23 - September 5

Retreat from Mons

British and French forces are forced back but manage to halt the German advance along the River Marne

September 12 - 15

Battle of the Aisne

For the first time, the Germans are forced to retreat.  They dig in and trench warfare begins.

 

September 15 -November 24

The 'Race to the Sea'

The Germans attempt to regain the initiative by pressing their attacks north, in Flanders.

October 14 - November 2

First Battle of Ypres

Despite superiority in numbers the Germans were unable to take the strategically important town of Ypres.  Winter brought hostilities to a halt.

December 25

Troops on both sides of the Western Front observed an unofficial truce.  Such fraternisation was banned in 1915 and would never be repeated.

1915

 

January-February

Trench warfare continues in appalling conditions; rain, snow and mud; heavy shelling and sniper fire by day, trench repair by night.

 

January 25

Defence of Givenchy

A captured German soldier revealed an attack was imminent against Cuinchy and Givenchy.  The Germans' initial advance was repulsed and the British re-gained lost trenches.

March 11-13

Battle of Neuve Chappelle

The British now occupied the front from Givenchy north to Langemark.  An attack at Neuve Chappelle was initially successful but then fizzled out through lack of ammunition.

April 22 - May 25

Second Battle of Ypres

During this battle the Germans made first use of poison gas.  On April 22, the Germans mount an attack on Hill 60 using poison gas. Under intense shelling and rifle fire the British are forced to withdraw.

April 25

Gallipoli Landing

May 7

Sinking of the Lusitania

RMS Lusitania was a passenger ship sunk by the Germans with the loss of  1,198 lives.  The incident caused international outrage, although the Germans claimed the ship had been carrying weapons and ammunition.

May 15 - 25

Battle of Festubert

Continuing the War at the southern end of the front, near Neuve Chappelle,  a 60-hour bombardment of 100,000 shells preceded an infantry attack on the village of Festubert. Over the next 10 days, the British advanced about 3km at the expense of  nearly 17,000 casualties.  In the ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, a number of German soldiers attempted to surrender but were shot by officers from their own side.

June 15

A renewed offensive at Festubert

Summer 1915

After the battles at Festubert and Ypres, there was no change in the situation on the Western Front - just static warfare with the Army losing around 300 men a day as they sought to build trenches and consolidate their position, but the Army continued to lack material and weapons, especially artillery.

July 29-30

On 19 July, the British had exploded a huge mine at Hooge, near Ypres, the Germans retaliated on 29-30, using flamethrowers for the first time.

Autumn 1915

The late summer and autumn of 1915 were relatively 'quiet' on the Western Front, though incessant artillery attacks and infantry raids continued to claim many lives.

1915 had seen the first use of poison gas and flamethrowers but no strategic gains for either side.  As well as stalemate on the Western Front, the Allies had suffered a major setback in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.  Back home, the government had recognised the need to significantly increase the war effort and provide more and better equipment and weapons.

1916 would be much, much worse.

Lostock Hall men

August 31 - September 7

Recruitment of the Preston Pals, 7Bn of the Loyal North Lancs Regt., including a number of men from Lostock Hall.

September 23

In an attack on German trenches at Pilkem near Ypres, 1Bn Loyal North Lancs took over 600 prisoners but lost 6 officers and 178 other ranks, including John Bennett, the first man from Lostock Hall to lose his life.

Henry Gibson joined the army under an alias, Henry Wilson.  He had previously fought in South Africa.  He landed with 1Bn Loyal North Lancs in August, fought on the Marne and the Aisne, and was killed near Ypres on 31 October.

James Fairclough from Lostock Hall and Harold Southworth from Farington, both of the Scots Guards, along with several men from Leyland, were buried alive in a trench which was mined by the Germans.  They had been in France just 11 days.

Joseph Hardman (Scots Guards) was killed on 12 March.

 John Morris, with King's Royal Rifles, is killed on 24 April.

A number of Lostock Hall men fought at Gallipoli, though mainly later in the campaign, and none lost their life there.

Lord Derby launched a recruitment campaign which arrived in Preston at the end of the month.  Outrage felt by the sinking of the Lusitania gave a boost to recruitment.  In Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge significant numbers of men joined the Royal Field Artillery.

John Henry Park of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regt. was killed on 8 May during fighting at Zonnebeke, near Langemark.

Fred Buck of the Scots Guards was killed on May 16.  His Bn lost 10 officers and 400 other ranks, killed or wounded.

In the northern part of the front, at Zonnebeke, Sgt Arthur Bleasdale of the Cheshire Regt. was killed on 25 May. Although the Germans had made some advances, they failed to break through and this part of the campaign came to an end.

Ernest Sturzaker had been in France for just a fortnight when he was killed going 'over the top' on 16 June with the Royal Scots Fusiliers. His half-brother, William Kellett, was with 1/4Bn Loyal North Lancs and had been in France since the beginning of May.  He was wounded on 15 June and died on 23rd.

1/4LNLR also included the 'Pals' company from Chorley, the 'Chorley Terriers', who were slaughtered in this action.

For personal accounts of the action that day, click here

Sgt Richard Morris, of the King's Royal Rifle Corps had been in Flanders about 10 weeks.  His Bn was in the trenches at Hooge when the Germans attacked using flamethrowers and trench mortars.  The Bn lost nearly all its officers, 35 other ranks killed, 187 wounded and 67 missing, including Richard, whose body was never found.

L/Cpl John Barnish of 7Bn Loyal North Lancs died of wounds on 5 December near Festubert.

British infantry advancing through their own gas,

Battle of Loos, 25 September 1915

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling 

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, 

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling 

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, 

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 

From Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen

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