Jos Boyd's inscription on the Loos Memorial
Date of Death:03/10/1915
Regiment:King's Royal Rifle Corps
Panel Reference:Panel 101
Loos was Britain's biggest offensive of 1915 on the Western Front and began on September 25th. The 1st KRRC were not involved in the initial attack. They were part of their Brigade's reserve force and due to the failure of the initial attack they were not called upon to advance themselves. The battalion was employed in an attack the following day along with the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment. They suffered heavily in the advance and after going 200 yards they reached an old communications trench where they were ordered to go no further and duIy dug in.The 1st KRRC held their position for the next three days, coming under heavy German grenade attacks on the 28th & 29th. On the night of the 29th/30th they were relieved. They were sent back up to the same trenches on the night of October 1st/2nd and while there on the 3rd they came under a heavy German bombing (grenade) attack. This was beaten off with the Germans suffering heavy casualties. Jos Boyd was one of those amongst the men of the 1st KRRC to lose his life that day.
The unit's war diary records the day's fighting:
"About 2.30pm the Germans bombarded our front lines, support and communication trenches near the "quarries" at Vermelles for about 2 hours, with 8" high explosive shells - Minenwerfers - and aerial torpedoes, paying special attention to their old observation post and officers dug-outs. During this time we were informed by the Royal Artillery that the Germans were seen massing behind their lines, so we were prepared for an attack. About 4.30pm the Germans started bomb-attacks up the 2 trenches running S.W from point G.5.D.91. This attack continued for 2.5 hours during which time the Germans never gained a footing in either of our trenches. On one occasion they attempted to leave theirs, presumably with a view to attacking, but a heavy rifle and machine gun fire was at once opened on them, they did not make a second attempt. We considered our success was entirely due to a properly organised supply of bombs and the steadfastness of the bombers. there were three lines of supplies organised via New Trench from point G.5912 to the V in St.Elie Avenue, also via St.Elie Avenue and via Goeben Avenue.
We expended over 2000 bombs in 2.5 hours"
Nine others from his unit can be found on the CWGC website as having been killed alongside him:
ADDY KENNETH 23 Second Lieutenant from Hampstead Heath
BENTALL ERNEST 18 Second Lieutenant from Heybridge, Essex
ETCHES CHRISTOPHER Rifleman R/10249 from Nottinghamshire
GRASS JAMES 19 Rifleman R/10559 from Brandon,Suffolk
HALSEY CHARLES Rifleman R/10548 from London
HAMILTON ALBERT Rifleman R/10364 from London
JOHNSON HARRY Serjeant 6684 from Hull
JOHNSTON JAMES 34 Lance Corporal 2322 from Jarrow.Boer War veteran
SMITH JAMES Rifleman 5/3265 from London
A note in pencil in the war diary states that 2nd Lt.Bentall was killed during the bombardment & 2nd Lt.Addy during the bomb attack. As was often the way there is no mention of even how many 'other ranks' had lost their lives.
Tragically the agony of Jos' family was drawn out by receiving conflicting information after his death.First his mother received a letter from another Roytoner serving in the 1st KRRC, Rifleman J.Taylor, who told her that he was believed killed.He had been going up into the trenches when he met some of the battalion coming back and on asking as to where Jos was they stated that he had gone into action with them but never came back. The next letter his mother received was official notification which,incorrectly,stated that Jos was wounded and in hospital in France.Less than two weeks later came confirmation that he was believed to have been killed on October 3rd,1915.
Jos Boyd was born in Royton in December 1885, his parents being James & Sarah.His older brothers were Samuel & Herbert and then came younger siblings Elizabeth,Harry & Ernest. The family was hit by two deaths in the first decade of the new century with Harry dying in 1909 aged 20 and Herbert also passing away.Jos' father,James,left the family at some point during this period and moved to Manchester leaving the family behind in Royton.
Jos worked as a piecer at a local mill and when he signed up in May 1915,aged 29,he was single and still living at home with his mother at 14 Crossley Street. Jos' military experience was a short one, he reached the 1st Battalion of the KRRC in France on August 19th 1915 and in under seven weeks was dead - killed at the Battle of Loos.
British Infantry advancing through gas at the Battle of Loos on September 25th 1915