In the Shadow of Bois Hugo

The 8th Lincolns at the Battle of Loos

Nigel Atter

The gallant actions of the 8th Lincolns at the Battle of Loos in 1915. The author debunks the myth that the Lincolns were routed at Loos.
Date Published :
October 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Contributor(s) :
Peter Simkins
Illustration :
c 50 ills & photos, maps. Including 16 pp of color maps and images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781911512776
Pages : 144
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


This is the first book dedicated to the subject of the 8th (Service) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment during the First World War - and this particular Kitchener battalion has been a neglected topic of study; however, there is a rich mine of information to be found - including the methods of recruitment; the initial training (or lack of it); the lack and late arrival of equipment; and the actual fighting experience of the 8th Lincolns at Loos. Importantly, this volume challenges the well-established British historiography about the general reserves and their performance at Loos, with the author arguing that the reserves, rather than being routed, stood, fought and died at Loos in 1915.

Following extensive archival research, the author has also built up a picture of the officers, which range from the very young junior second lieutenants straight out of university - the Officer Training Corps (OTC) - to a man who had seen 25 years’ army service, but had never experienced a shot fired in anger until Loos. The men who constituted the ordinary soldiers were commonly the 'salt of the earth' - drawn from the ranks of the industrial and agricultural laboring classes. There is no great captain amongst them, but their grit and determination to the bitter end is an example of soldierly conduct in the best traditions of the British Army.

British historiography hasn’t been kind to the reserves who fought at Loos - claiming, at worst: 'They bolted!' and, at best, they were tired out by a forced march... hungry and wet through. The reality is at least one company stood and fought until almost completely out of ammunition, with all their officers dead or seriously wounded; surrounded by Germans with machine guns, the surviving Lincolns were captured.

The experience of the 8th Lincolns is placed in the wider context, with the British Expeditionary Force’s (BEF) learning process during 1915 and the aftermath of the accusations which led to the dismissal of Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF and Sir Douglas Haig’s appointment as the Chief.

This book will appeal on a number of levels: it documents the life of an otherwise hitherto unknown Kitchener battalion; it challenges orthodox historiography; and it firmly shows that rather than running away, the 8th Lincolns (and, more generally, the reserves) behaved, by and large, with courage and resolution.

About The Author

Nigel is a former student of Professor Gary Sheffield and Dr Spencer Jones, and is an independent scholar of the Great War (his primary area of interest being the Western Front in 1915 - particularly the Battle of Loos). He is, perhaps, unique in his interest related to the 8th (Service) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Nigel was a founding member of the Leicestershire and Rutland Branch of the Western Front Association and has presented papers on a range of diverse topics, such as the Indian Corps, Lord Kitchener and the Battle of Loos. As military history advisor and secretary to the 'Oadby Remembers 1914-1918' project, Nigel undertakes research on individual soldiers and oversees all the published research from the wider team. He has delivered research findings on topics as diverse as the Leicestershire Regiment in Mesopotamia and papers on individual battles and biographies of local soldiers. His recent publications include 'Their name Liveth for Evermore: a military history of the men from Oadby Baptist Church' and 'A Difficult Year: Offensive Operations on the Western Front in 1915', which was published in Stand To! (the journal of The Western Front Association).


“[Nigel Atter] has produced a thorough and rather eye-opening account of the battalion’s experience. Great stuff.”

- The Long, Long Trail

“ … A fitting tribute and a first-class work …”

- Great War Magazine

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