©quarry-cemetery|Arras Pays d'Artois Tourisme
Quarry Cemetery

Quarry Cemetery, Vermelles

The battle of Loos, from September to October 1915, was the British part of the great allied attack in Artois launched by Joffre simultaneously with the main French offensive in Champagne. The French commander-in-chief believed that the numerical superiority temporarily available to his army should allow a decisive breakthrough.

The "Big Push

While the French were once again focusing their efforts on Vimy Ridge, the British were aiming for the mining basin in the Loos-Hulluch sector, located below on the Gohelle plain. By the magnitude of the numbers involved, the Battle of Loos constituted one of the largest British offensive efforts since the beginning of the conflict: it was in fact described as the “Big Push” by its initiators.

A continuous bombardment lasting four days poured 250,000 shells on the German defenses; it was overall without real effect. Before the infantry assault was launched on the morning of September 25, 1915, the British released 140 tons of chlorine gas to supplement an artillery barrage that was deemed insufficient. This was the first use of combat gas by the Allies after the terrible German strike at Ypres in April. However, the whims of the wind returned the gas, at several points, to the British trenches: More than 2,600 men were affected and put out of action.


On September 25 alone, the British recorded 8,500 casualties. They would lose a total of 50,000 men, killed, wounded or missing. The names of 20,000 of them are inscribed in the Loos Memorial, which girds the Dud Corner Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle.

It is in the Quarry Cemetery in Vermelles, a former quarry that has been redeveloped, that 130 fallen British soldiers are buried. Among the graves is that of Fergus-Bowes-Lyon, brother of the Queen Mother of England, killed at age 26 during the Battle of Loos.