Lest we forget those who fought in WWI

THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE: society members David Anderson (left) and Joe O'Raw in the groups research base.
THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE: society members David Anderson (left) and Joe O'Raw in the groups research base.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the Times & Speaker has been running a series of reports from the Lanarkshire Family History Society.

Here, member David Anderson, military group coordinator, takes a look at WWI battles in the last of the series from the group.

During WWI there were hundreds of battles, not only in Europe but also in the Middle East.

In Europe, the fighting was along the Belgium and France border, with both forces dug into trenches, both trying to identity weakness to exploit.

Therefore battles raged back and forward with neither gaining any significant advantage with a high level of casualties.

The first offensive was at Loos in September 1915, only lasting 20 days, but involving 35,000 Scots with 7,000 losing their lives from 13,000 casualties.

During this campaign, chloride gas was used for the first time, unfortunately the wind changed and it drifted back to the British lines causing soldiers to struggle with their hoods, and became affected.

Total British casualties were 59,247 from 285,107 troops, of which over 21,000 lost their lives.

Outcome - stalemate.

Fighting in the Somme area took place from July 1916 lasting 141 days.

This offensive resulted in 419,654 casualties with 95,675 missing or losing their lives, from over 13 different theatres of fighting.

Outcome - British/French advantage.

In 1917 there are two battles of note, that of Arras and that of Passchendaele (sometime known as Ypres).

The Arras campaign commenced on 9 April 1917 and lasted for 39 days resulting in 158,660 casualties with 34,774 recorded as missing or killed.

Outcome - Allied claimed advantage.

At Passchendaele which commenced on 31 July 1917 and lasting 98 days, but the casualties figures for this battle is very much disputed, but expected to greater than 172,000, with more than 34,200 missing or killed.

Outcome - operational failure.

The above were Allied offensives, but on 21 March 1918, the German Army launch their offensive, as the Americans were entering the war and they wished to catch the Allies out and make the introduction of the American obsolete, but this was the start of the end.

This offensive lasted 120 days resulting in 688,341 British casualties with an estimated 418,374 missing or killed.

There is one theatre we should not omit and that is the disaster campaign in Gallipoli were a unit of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry were fighting.

The total killed in battle was 34,072, with 78,520 wounded, but this figure does include illness which is estimated at 145,000, mainly due to dysentery.

Lest we forget.