Earlestown War Memorial
The Great War Roll of Honour
The attack on the 25th September on the trenches held by the Germans in the vicinity of Hooge and Bellewaarde Lake was made with the object of distracting attention from a "full-dress" attempt to break through at Loos, away to the southward, and to contain the enemy's reserves. Like so many similar attacks, it entailed heavy losses to the attacking infantry. Zero hour was fixed for 4.20 a.m., and the preliminary bombardment was to open at 3.50 a.m.
On the evening of the 24th the [2nd] Battalion marched to its assembly point near Hooge in a steady downpour, and the men spent a miserable night in their wet clothes waiting for dawn, and zero. The units attacking on the right an left were the 1st Gordons and 2nd Royal Irish Rifles respectively -by a curious coincidence a " mixed bag " of English, Scottish and Irish.
At 4.20 a.m. the two assaulting companies, "A" on the
right, under Captain Schooling, and "B" on the left, under Captain
Bagley, climbed the parapet and moved steadily towards their objective, the
ruins of Hooge Chateau. By some misunderstanding, the left company of the Gordons
had moved off too soon and, finding the wire on their front insufficiently cut,
had "side-stepped" in an endeavour to find a passage through it. As
a result, "A" Company got mixed up with Gordons, causing some confusion,
which was not helped by the withering machine gun fire now directed at the assaulting
waves of infantry. However, the men of "A" Company pressed forward
only to find the wire obstacles on their front also uncut, and they were forced
to retire. Rallied immediately by their officers and N.C.Os., a combined rush
forward was again made by Prince of Wales's Volunteers and Gordons, but was
again beaten back. Meantime, the bombers on this flank did yeoman service, but
were also held up by machine guns which, in the half-light of early morning,
difficult to locate and knock out. Second-Lieutenant A. W. Gates, the Bombing Officer, received a well-merited Military Cross.
"B" Company, on the left, nearly reached the enemy's parapet, but stumbled into a concealed entanglement, the men falling over the wire before they saw it-even so, a few determined fellows actually entered the German trench where they died fighting, as the rest of the Company could not get through the wire to support them. All the officers and Sergeants of "B" Company eventually became casualties, and it lost 114 out of 170 of all ranks.
Despite the most determined leading by the company and platoon
commanders, and the gallantry of the men, the attack had failed to get home
and there seems little doubt that the Boche was prepared for it.
Thus in a few short hours the Battalion had lost 2 officers and 26 other ranks killed, and 6 officers and 222 other ranks wounded or missing; once again paying the penalty that modem war exacts.