Northamptonshire regimental badges carved from chalk at Hulluch by soldiers of the 1st Battalion during the Battle of Loos in 1915. Measurements: H:6.9cm, L:11.2cm
The Battle of Loos took place in France between 25 September and 13 October and involved approximately 100,000 British soldiers. It was the first engagement where British forces used poison gas against enemy troops. The intention was to use chlorine gas against the German soldiers, but due to inadequate tools and adverse weather conditions, the operation resulted in injury to numerous British troops. The 1st Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment were prepared to advance against the enemy after the release of the gas cylinders, but were compelled to push back due to a gas cloud stalling their approach and injuring many soldiers.
The village of Hulluch was positioned close to Loos, which was an industrial area containing slag heaps and mines. The chalk for these carvings could have been sourced from the local area and created by soldiers during operations in and around Loos. Northern France contained chalk and limestone mines which allowed soldiers and civilians to record their memories and experiences of war. In the examples shown here, soldiers used the chalk to carve the Northamptonshire regimental insignia into the stone.
The crest and number ‘48’ represents the amalgamation of the 48th Northamptonshire Regiment of Foot and the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment of Foot in 1881. The Castle with the inscription ‘Gibraltar’ represents the battle honour earned by the 58th Foot in 1779–1783. The ‘Talavera’ honour was earned by the 48th Foot in 1809 during the Peninsular War.
In 2018, objects like these and many more will be made available online for you to explore through a First World War digital archive. For more information on the Conflict & Community Project please click here.