London Irish Rifles Loos Dinner

Saturday 20th October 2018

The London Irish Rifles was a volunteer rifle regiment of the British Army with a distinguished history and now forms D (London Irish Rifles) Company of the London Regiment that is part of the Army Reserve. The Tobacco Pipe Makers have been supporters of the London Regiment for decades and enjoy a strong affiliation.

The Mistress and I were delighted to receive an invitation from the Commanding Officer, Major Robert Brown, to attend the annual Loos Dinner at their barracks in Camberwell; an event that commemorates the Company's valiant leadership of its Brigade at the Battle of Loos in France on the Western Front on 25th September 1915.

We heard the extraordinary account of the events that unfolded over four days of continous action at the village of Loos. In the first attack 'over the top', the Battalion's football captain, Rifleman Edwards, took a football and kicked it hard towards the enemy. Under heavy fire and suffering great losses, the soldiers kept kicking it forward until they reached and took the first line of the German trenches. Brutal hand-to-hand combat ensued until the second line of trenches was also taken.

The momentum gained was then used to push on to take and secure the village of Loos behind the enemy line. The London Irish Rifles met their most dangerous challenge yet as they defended their position against a sustained onslaught from German forces for three days until they were relieved. It was recognised at the time as being one of the greatest actions of the First World War and it won battle honours. It also won for the Company the nickname 'the Footballers of Loos' and the original football remains one of its greatest treasures.

The officers and men of the Company could not have been more hospitable that evening. We enjoyed an excellent meal of the highest standard, prepared in a field kitchen beside the Mess Hall, and we enjoyed delicious wine. However, the abiding memories of the evening will be both the warmth of the welcome and the feelings of humble gratitude for the scale of valour and the sacrifice from this most illustrious Company and Regiment.