On the 13th October the centenary of the Battle of Loos was commemorated nationally and a ceremony also took place at Glossop Cenotaph to remember those who fought and died at Loos. The battle incurred staggering casualty figures as the British attempted to support the French to break the deadlock of trench warfare yet the memory of the battle is now commonly overshadowed by the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele.
Glossop and Hadfield lost at least five men during the battle and possibly many more were wounded in the fighting. Three of the men died on the same day whilst serving with the same battalion. The men known to have been killed during the battle were:
Private John Bernard Dwyer, aged 20, of the 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was the first known casualty, dying on the 1st October 1915. He had arrived in France less than five months before he was killed.
Private George Sharples, aged 23, of the 2nd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment was killed on 3rd October 1915. George was the brother of Mrs F Close of Edward Street and had been in France since December 1914, previously serving with the 1st Battalion.
Lance-Corporal John Robert Avison, also of 2nd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, had served previously with the regiment before the war and went to France with his battalion on the 16th January 1915. He died on 3rd October 1915.
Corporal Thomas Potter was 32 years old when killed serving with the same battalion as George Sharples and John Robert Avison. He too died on 3rd October and left behind his wife, Minnie Potter, of 13, Lees Row, Padfield.
All the men named above are now commemorated on the Loos memorial which lists those men who died in the area during the war and have no known grave. The memorial is engraved with the names of over 20,500 men.
Private John (known as Jack) Jepson was wounded by a bullet in the knee at the battle and lay for some hours on the battlefield before he could safely be attended to. He was evacuated to a hospital at the French town of Etaples but subsequently died of his wounds. He was buried in Etaples Military Cemetery. For Jack’s parents his death must have been devastating. They had lost a son-in-law in 1914 and Jack’s brother, Fred, was killed in February 1915. Jack himself was married with a young child.
The battle started on 25th September 1915 and did not finish until mid-October. The official history of the war tells us that there were 50,000 casualties and nearly 16,000 of them were killed. The Germans lost around 19,800 men of which 5,000 were killed.
Little is known about most of the Glossopdale men listed above. Unusually, there is no obituary in the Glossop Chronicle for any of the men except Jack Jepson but their sacrifices are not forgotten. At the service on the 13th October at the Glossop Cenotaph they were remembered alongside all those who fought and died at the battle.
(Published Glossop Chronicle, October 15th 2015)
Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Glossop Chronicle October 1915, Official History of the War (France and Belgium, 1915 Vol. 2); Ray Westlake – British Battalions on the Western Front January to June 1915; Medal Index Card Records