Today, 25th September, marks the anniversary of the largest single loss of life by Old Wellingtonians during the First World War. No fewer than fifteen Wellingtonians were killed on 25th September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos, while another died two weeks later from wounds received on the 25th. This total exceeds even that for the first day of the Somme.
The battle took place at Loos-en-Gohelle, just outside Lens in northern France. The biggest British attack of 1915, it was an attempt to break through German trenches and restore a war of movement. On the 25th the British had initial success, but supply and communications problems meant that they failed to capitalise on them, and eventual British casualties were about twice as high as German losses.
The Wellingtonians killed were:
Captain John Aitken, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (Hardinge 1906-1910)
Major Henry Carden, Devonshire Regiment (Hardinge 1869-72)
Captain Charles Carfrae, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry (Hill 1899-1903)
Lieutenant Frank Carver, Devonshire Regiment (Murray 1908-1912)
Captain John Childe-Freeman, Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Wellesley 1904-1908)
Captain Robert Faulknor, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (Blucher 1900-1905)
Lieutenant Samuel Forsyth, Royal Field Artillery (Murray 1899-1903)
2nd Lieutenant Arthur Harden, Royal Sussex Regiment (Hopetoun 1910-1914)
Captain Charles Hooper, Highland Light Infantry (Benson 1904-1909)
2nd Lieutenant Lionel Lee, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry (Picton 1905-1910)
Lieutenant Kenneth Mackenzie, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders (Blucher 1905-1910)
2nd Lieutenant Colin Mackinnon, Middlesex Regiment (Benson 1911-1912)
Captain Francis Romilly, Leicestershire Regiment (Lynedoch 1892-1895)
Private Victor Smith, Royal Berkshire Regiment, Wellington College servant
Lieutenant-Colonel George Verner, King’s Own Scottish Borderers (Lynedoch 1874-1878) (died of wounds)
In addition to the above who were killed at Loos, Lieutenant Robert Gavin, Royal Irish Rifles (Blucher 1901-1907) died on the same day at Hooge in Belgium.
The youngest men were Arthur Harden and Colin Mackinnon, both only 18 when they died. The oldest was Charles Carden, 60 years old when he was killed in action. Nine of the sixteen are recorded on the Loos Memorial or other memorials, suggesting that their bodies were never identified. A further sixteen Wellingtonians died in the same campaign over the following three weeks.
2nd Lt Colin Mackinnon was the youngest OW to lose his life at the age of 18
Major Henry Carden was the eldest OW to lose his life at the age of 60