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< WWI

Loos


The Battle of Loos was the largest British offensive to take place during 1915. The assault is particularly notable as the first use of poison gas by the British army, and also for the significant loss of life.

The conflict had a profound effect on the literary world. Rudyard Kipling had been a strong proponent of the war, writing propaganda poems and pamphlets for the government whilst being noticeably vocal in his assertions that all 'heroic' men should be prepared to fight for their country. He was eager for his only son, John, to join up despite being rejected twice for failing medical tests. Despite this, Kipling managed to secure a place for John in the Irish Guards. Two days into the battle, John was killed. His death profoundly affected Kipling, and he wrote the epitaph 'If any question why we died, / Tell them, because our fathers lied' and the poem 'My Boy Jack' following his bereavement. After the war he became a strong supporter of the Imperial War Graves Commission, and chose the inscription of 'The Glorious Dead' for the Cenotaph.

In addition, the autobiography 'Goodbye To All That' famously recalls Robert Graves' time there as a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.