Anderson R.

RALPH ANDERSON (1895-1915)

S/10253 Private Ralph Anderson, 1st Battalion, the Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch) was killed in action 13 October 1915 and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France. [1] He was 20 years old and is commemorated on the Woodland War Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack.

Family Details

Ralph was born 1895[2] at Newbiggin-in-Teesdale the son of John and Annie Anderson.  There were at least 6 children born either at Newbiggin or Middleton-in-Teesdale:

  • Mary A. bc.1894
  • Ralph born 1895
  • John Thomas bc.1897
  • Elizabeth Jane bc.1901
  • Victor bc.1903
  • Amy bc.1905 [3]

In 1901, the family lived with John’s father Ralph at High Bell, Newbiggin-in-Teesdale near Middleton-in-Teesdale.  Ralph worked as a farmer and John aged 31 was employed as a lead miner.[4]  By 1911, John was a widower living at Snaisgill, Middleton-in-Teesdale with a housekeeper Maud Allinson and his family 16 year old Ralph, 14 year old Thomas, 10 year old Jane, 8 year old Victor and 6 year old Amy.  John worked as a coal miner (stone worker).  Ralph and Thomas were employed as coal miners (drivers).[5]  At some time before October 1915, John moved to 4 Dales Terrace, Woodland[6] and it is assumed that Ralph did so to in order to live nearer their work as coal miners.

Service Details

Ralph Anderson enlisted at Bishop Auckland into the Royal Field Artillery and was given the regimental number 66542.  Some time later he joined the Black Watch and was given the regimental number S/10253.  The service details of Private R. Anderson and the war diary of the 1/Black Watch have not been researched.

The 1st Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) was a Regular Army Battalion and as part of the 1st Brigade 1st Division and came under the orders of the 1st Guards Brigade. [7] On the formation of the Guards Division in August 1915, this brigade lost its 2 Guards battalions, 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards and 1st Battalion, the Scots Guards and was re-titled the 1st Brigade.

The 1st Brigade comprised:

  • 1st, The Black Watch
  • 1st, the Cameron Highlanders joined September 1914
  • 1/14th, the London Regiment joined November 1914 left February 1916
  • 10th, the Gloucester Regiment joined August 1915
  • 8th, the Royal Berkshire Regiment joined August 1915 left February 1918.

The 1st Division landed at Le Havre, France 14 August 1914.  The Division took part in nearly all the engagements in the early months of the war – the Battle of Mons, through to the First Battle of Ypres and the Winter Operations 1914-1915 and in May 1915, the Battle of Aubers. [8]

Private R. Anderson entered France 25 August 1915 [9] as a draft in preparation for the Battle of Loos, 25 September – 8 October after which followed the Actions on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, 13-19 October 1915.  In these engagements, the 1st Division was part of the IV Corps (Lieutenant General Sir H. Rawlinson) First Army under General Sir Douglas Haig. [10]

Private R. Anderson was killed in action 13 October and has no known grave. It is presumed that 1/Black Watch formed part of the 1st Division renewal of the offensive 13 October at 2.00pm led by the 1st Brigade against 1400 yards of enemy positions along the Lens-La Bassee road between Loos and Hulluch.  The infantry was hit by fire of increasing intensity as they approached the German wire 300 yards away.  Only 4 passages through the wire had been made by the bombardment.  Despite efforts to cut it, the attack was halted and the survivors withdrew after dark.  The Division suffered 1,200 casualties in this fruitless assault.[11]

The 1st Black Watch War Diary reads as follows:

13th October1915: West of Hulluch

6am to 1pm: Wire cutting & preliminary bombardment by our artillery; 3 brigades of RFA giving HE at 4750

1pm: Gas discharge

Appendix A attached details

All 3 officers of C Coy were killed & all 3 pf B wounded.

The fighting strength of the Bttn was 14 officers & 536 ORs

The total breadth of the objective was 500 yards.

The casualties were; killed 2nd Lt. Law, Palm, Fraser, Ballantyne, Hutchinson, Hayes (missing believed killed) wounded Lt. Merryless, 2nd L. Hame, Mercer, Lamb & Young

Other Ranks 163

Total casualties: 10 officers, 229 ORs

Wind: SSW, Weather: V. Fine

APPENDIX A referred to above is detailed below:

1st Bttn Black Watch

Refs. Trench Map 36C NW3 1:10000 Nr. Hulluch

Gas discharge 1000p Smoke

1 to 1.50pm, Grenades were thrown out, every 6 yds at given intervals

1.55pm, The sections told off in 4 platoons for wire cutting, made gaps in our wire.

2.00pm, Two platoons each of B C Coys went forward extended to about 4 paces interval.  Each platoon had with it its wire cutting section& 12 men carrying bombs.

The objective of the Bttn was from Cross Roads H19.A76 TO H13.C47 exactly 500 yds.

This front had been allocated as follows:

B Coy (supported by A) from H19.A76 to H13.C41 with special orders to capture the point H19.A77.

C Coy(supported by D) from H13.C41 to H13.C47 with special orders to capture the point h13.c42.

Bombing officers and a special party were told off for sap running from our lines to H13.C45.

A m.g. was placed on either flank of the Bttn & two opened covering fire from behind HQ which was 200yds behind the centre of C Coy.

After deducting bombers & wirers entirely detached from the Bttn the strength was 14 officers & 536 ORs.

2 to 3pm, The leading platoons reached the German wire & finding it uncut proceeded to try and cut it or lift the stakes.  Some bombs were hurled at them but fell short.  However two German m.g.s posted on either flank of the ruins of an Estaminet at Cross Roads H19.A76 did much execution chiefly amongst the two supporting platoons of B Coy which came forward with picks and shovels.

Owing to the smoke at this time it was difficult to ascertain exactly what was happening.

With the supporting platoons, telephone instruments went forward, as in the smoke it was thought we had got into the German trench.

2.30pm, There were heavy casualties among the bombers up sap leading to H13.C45 and the two remaining men Cpl. Kerr and L.Cpl. Lovejoy blocked the sap close to a small square work in the sap 40yds from the German trench.

Two German m.g.s. were in position near H13.C42 which prevented C Coy making further progress with the wire.

2.45 – 3.10pm, A & D Coys both sent up supporting platoons to assist the fire & at 3.15pm D Coy sent other two platoons who were much harried by m.g. fire.

A sent forward a second and afterwards a third.

4.00pm, Again the right platoon of B (the right Coy) was reported – wrongly, to have got in.  More bombs were sent up but never reached the front Coys.

4.45pm, Lt. Mercer collected some Northampton bombers who assisted our party (now one man) in the sap towards H13C45.

The left platoon of C Coy was now said to have got into the trench about H13.C44 but had only got into the wire.

6.00pm, There were now 58 men of the Bttn still in the British front trench and two coys of the Northamtons.

7.25pm, Instructions received to hold present position until further orders but a few men had crawled back from the wire.  Every officer of the Bttn who had left our trench had become a casualty.

8.25pm, There were 138 men collected in the front British trench.

8.50pm, A patrol of 6 men under 2nd.Lt. Mercer reconnoitred the sunken road leading to the right of our objective as it was rumoured that some men of the Berkshires had reached the Cross Roads Estaminet.  The rumours proved unfounded & all the patrol were killed or wounded.

11.45pm, Orders came for the delivery of an attack on the same objective by the 2nd Bde & for the Bttn to reorganise & hold the first British line.

14.10.15: 12.20am, The Bttn reorganising holding first British line.


  • Killed: 4 Officers; 35 ORs
  • Wounded: 5 Officers; 163 ORs
  • Wounded & missing: 1 Officer, – ORs
  • Missing: – Officers, 33 ORs
  • Total: 10 Officers, 229 ORs      

Later research records that 1/Black Watch lost 2 officers and 66 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds 13 October 1915 including Private R. Anderson.[12]  Private R. Anderson was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[13]

More than 61,000 British casualties were sustained in this battle.  50,000 of them were in the main fighting area between Loos and Givinchy and the remainder in subsidiary attacks.  7,766 men died.  Casualties were particularly high among Scots units.  Many New Army units, such as 15/DLI, were devastated.  A significant proportion of the remaining pre-war regular troops were lost.  More than 2,000 officers were killed or wounded.  The irreplaceable asset in experienced man and leaders was a most serious loss to the British Army.[14]


S/10253 Private Ralph Anderson is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France which commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay.  The memorial was unveiled 4 August 1930.[15]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.281 Teesdale 1895 Q1

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] CWGC



[9] Medal Roll card index

[10] &


[12] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[13] Medal Roll card index


[15] CWGC



ANDERSON R. Press Photo

Press Photo

ANDERSON R. Medal Roll

Medal Roll

ANDERSON R. Inscription Loos Memorial

Loos Memorial

One thought on “Anderson R.

  1. Pingback: WOODLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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