battle of loos
Dundee’s contribution to the Battle of Loos was
remarkable. The war exacted a heavy toll on the
city, perhaps more than that paid by anywhere else
in Scotland. By the Armistice some sixty-three per
cent of eligible men had served with the colours,
and over 4,000 made the ultimate sacrifice.
contributed to one of the highest casualty rates
However, Dundee’s experience of the Great War has become
synonymous with the fate of its Territorial Force battalion,
4th Black Watch, ‘Dundee’s Own’. The battalion was recruited
almost exclusively in Dundee and represented all ranks of
local society; ‘it represented a Scottish city at war’.
On leaving for the front on 24 February 1915, with a strength
of almost 900 all ranks, an article in the local press affirmed,
that ‘in a very special sense 4th Black Watch¤ is Dundee’s
regiment, and it carries with it the honour of the town. This
special intimacy of relationship was in the minds of the people
who lined the streets for hours to bid farewell to the soldiers
as in successive detachments they marched to entrain’.
closeness helps explain how the fate of 4th Black Watch shaped
Dundee’s collective memory. The battalion had already lost
heavily at Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge earlier in 1915,
before making its contribution to the Battle of Loos.
Belonging to the Bareilly Brigade, 7th Meerut Division of the
Indian Army Corps, 4th Black Watch was part of a diversionary
attack, intended to draw German reserves from the districts
east of Loos.
7 People’s Journal War Supplement, 16 May 1925, 3.
8 A. G. Wauchope, A History of the Black Watch in the Great War,
Vol. II (London, 1926), 3.
9 People’s Journal, Saturday, 27 February 1915, 9.
10 A. G. Wauchope, A History of the Black Watch in the Great War,
Vol. II (London, 1926), 16.