24th September 1915 - 27th September 1915

In a letter to his parents, Lieutenant Wilson describes the circumstances under which the fighting took place at Hill 70. “I was in reserve, we were holding this line in case the German counter attack, which was being pushed home very forcibly, should succeed. Somehow or other the brigade on our left saw their front brigade retiring, and they got the wind up, and then the Brigade-Major ordered his men to retire also, I was away along to the right seeing some H.L.I. officers who held on there. Suddenly I saw the Camerons retiring out of the trench. We were being pretty heavily shelled, as the Germans knew the absolute range of this trench, it being their third line. I ran away along up behind and asked why they were going back without orders. My Sergeant said that a Brigadier had come along and ordered them out. We were there for about a quarter of an hour – the H.L.I. had remained too – when a General of our division came up. He asked who was in command of the two detachments and said he was glad to see we had not gone back. Then a messenger came back from the front line saying they were now on and were cut off right and left but must have reinforcements and ammunition. He asked me if I would go and also the H.L.I. man. Eventually every Cameron volunteered, although at that time it looked a forlorn chance, as Loos was very heavily bombarded. Well, we got through the town and got up to find the whole line had drawn back by some divisional order or other. By this time, I had lost the H.L.I. officer and his detachment, but had gathered a few more men who did not like going back – some Argylls, Black Watch, Somersets, Yorks, H.L.I., K.O.S.B., and others I cannot remember. We took up a position by the right until a strong line of Dragoons was formed all round Loos village. As it turned out nothing happened, but if the Huns had advanced in force – well, we’d have been wiped out. However, all went well, and we got back all right. The Major certainly told me that he was very strongly recommending me in his list of honours, but of course I presume it was merely for ‘mention in dispatches.’ The General also took my name and regiment before we moved up through Loos, but to my mind I only did what any other could do – my duty. In another letter Lieutenant Wilson says – “We are now a little bit behind the original firing line – a good few miles behind the Germans. We are reforming here and being equipped again. Our battalion suffered very heavy casualties, both officers and men, but still the whole division did marvellously well. We had to attack the Germans in their third entrenched position in open order against heavy machine guns and shrapnel fire. I got separated from the battalion at the very beginning of our attack and was practically on my own most of the time. I was sent away with two platoons to act as flankers to our bombers who were bombing the Germans out of a part of the trench they had been occupying. This took us about three hours, and by that time the battalion had gone away on. I sent out three men to find out, and only one returned, without any information at all. The Captain of the H.L.I., whom I had reinforced, then took charge of my party also and we consolidated the trench we had cleared. Next day early in the morning we had to shift, being heavily shelled, and went forward to the German second line trench and took up another position alongside an English brigade. We were here for almost three hours, and latterly the brigade in front being forced back, the brigade along with us went back too. About a quarter of an hour afterwards a General of one of our Scottish brigades came up, asked who we were, and said, “Don’t you think it would be a good thing to go up and reinforce the firing line?” At that time Loos was being very heavily shelled and the undertaking seemed very risky. However, it was practically an order, so I said that I would go. He asked the men who would volunteer. I said ‘No need to ask for volunteers, sir, they’ll all come,’ and by Jove they did. We got through the village – goodness knows how – without casualties, having been joined by about 40 H.L.I. under one officer. When we got up to the end of the village, where our first line trench was, we found the whole line was retiring. We were forced back to the middle of the village again, when I halted, formed up my men, and was joined by about twenty other Camerons, R.S.F., K.O.S.B., Black Watch and some English regiments. We went back again and took up a line outside the village. At this stage I told my men there was to be no retiring. After about three hours the cavalry brigade came up and took up a position on our right and left. At eight o’clock next day we were relieved, on Monday morning, and I took them down to the centre of Loos and we had breakfast, the first meal since Friday midnight. We are now resting and getting ready for the next attack.

Created by: Christine3721

  • Profile picture for Joseph Wilson

    Born 1887

    Died 1917

    British Army Second Lieutenant Cameron Highlanders

    British Army Temporary Captain Cameron Highlanders

    British Army Captain Cameron Highlanders