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Meteorology at the Battle of Loos Pt 2


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  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

I was going to tag this on to this subject here but it's been archived.




A snippet from an article in the Times.


The Loos battlefield was uniformly flat and dominated by slagheaps. Joffre insisted it was “particularly favourableâ€. Haig agreed, but particularly favourable for the defenders, not the attackers. A new and secret weapon would to some extent allay his misgivings — gas. The cabinet had approved its use after the German chlorine attacks at Ypres in April. However, Haig’s hopes for his gas attack were to be cruelly dashed. Artillery gas shells had not yet been developed, so the chlorine had to be released from cylinders, and needed a breeze strong enough to carry it to the enemy’s trenches but not so strong as to disperse it. The weather in the days before had been foul, with heavy rain, but on the morning of the attack, “There was not a breath of wind until 5 am,†noted Colonel John Charteris, Haig’s intelligence officer; “but before that, [a meteorological officer] Gold’s reports had become pretty confident that the wind would be favourable. I went to D.H. at 2 a.m., when we had just received a report from a distant station that made Gold reasonably hopeful. Our own report from the line was that it was dead still. At 3, when the decision had to be made, I took Gold . . . to D.H. Gold was then more confident and D.H. ordered zero hour for 5.50 . . . At 5 he came to our office with Fletcher [ADC]. There was quite a faint breath of wind then, and Fletcher’s cigarette smoke moved quite perceptibly towards the Germans. But it died away again in a few minutes, and a little later D.H. sent down a message from the tower to 1st Corps to inquire if the attack could still be held up. Gough replied that it was too late to change. I was with D.H. when the reply was brought in. He was very upset.â€


Major-General Henry (later General Lord) Horne, commanding 2nd Division, ignored the advice not to release the cloud because of insufficient breeze: “the programme must be carried out whatever the conditionsâ€, he insisted. As a result his division, with their rudimentary gas hoods, suffered more than 2,000 gas casualties, though mercifully only a handful were fatal.




Rudyard Kipling's only son was killed at Loos after which he wrote his very moving poem


'My Boy Jack'


"HAVE you news of my boy Jack? "
Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.


"Has any one else had word of him?"
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.


"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind---

Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.


Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.




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