The Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt

The Attack by the 46th North Midland Division on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, 13th October 1915.

The Hohenzollern Redoubt was the most heavily defended German position in the Loos sector. Ingeniously constructed by the Germans fortifying a small hillock which protruded out from their front line trench system, it provided enfilade fire across the battlefield.

Map of the Battle of Hohenzollern Redoubt

Map of the Battle of Hohenzollern Redoubt

The Redoubt had already been attacked on three previous occasions firstly on the 25th September by the 9th Scottish Division. Although the attack was initially successful German reinforcements drove the Scots out with horrendous casualties, some battalions were reduced to less than 50 men, and many young officers were killed.

Towards the end of the Battle of Loos, General Haig gave orders for the 46 Division to attack the Redoubt. Although the Division had spent the last six months in the Ypres Salient, this was to be their first attack. For many officers and soldiers it would also be their last.

The men comprising the Division were the Lincolns and Leicesters, Sherwood Foresters and the North and South Staffordshire Regiment, all were Volunteer territorial soldiers. The Monmouths were on the Pioneer Battalion who also fought later.

The attack was set for the 13th October, zero hour being 2pm. The first wave was to comprise the 4th Battalion Leicesters, 5th Battalion Lincolns and the Staffordshire Regiment.

The image of the officers was taken in 1915 before they went to France

The image of the officers was taken in 1915 before they went to France

At 12 noon the artillery started its bombardment of the Redoubt and the adjoining trench system. At 1pm gas and smoke were released to conceal our movements.

At 2pm, zero hour, the whistles blew and the three assault Battalions were clambering out of the trenches to form up for the attack. They were met with heavy machine gun fire from several points which quickly cut in the attacking Battalions, Col. Martin, the Leicesters Co was badly wounded in the knee climbing over the parapet but bravely stayed on conducting the Leicesters attack throughout the battle.

Very heavy fighting in the trenches with hand to hand fighting and bombing carried on for several hours. Many great acts of bravery were carried out during the attack, many to be unrecorded. By 3.30pm the attack was pretty well over, but several pockets of men stayed on until they ran out of ammunition and grenades.

The charge of the 4th Leicesters was later described by a Guards Officer as the finest attack he had ever seen.

The result was the 4th Leicesters had lost every Officer, killed or wounded and out of the 650 who attacked that day, 480 were killed or wounded.

It will always be remembered as Leicester City's blackest day. The Division lost in a few terrible hours 3,700 men killed and wounded in the attack on the Redoubt.

Written by Captain Richard Lane , Regimental Historian , The Royal Leicestershire Regiment.

These are the signatures of the Officers, most of whom didn't come back home

These are the signatures of the Officers, most of whom didn't come back home

Commemoration Events

On Sunday, October 11, from 2pm, historian Dr John Sutton will give a talk on the Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Newarke Houses Museum. For further details contact the museum on 0116 225 4980.

On Tuesday, October 13, at Leicester Cathedral, a service of Choral Evensong has been organised by the Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral and the Royal Tigers’ Association, the Royal Leicestershire Regiment.

The Regimental Association is also seeking descendants of men who fought at the Hohenzollern Redoubt. To get in touch email: