Third Battle of Artois

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Third Battle of Artois
Part of the Western Front of the First World War
French attack in Artois, September 1915.jpg

French attacks in Artois, September 1915
Date 25 September – 4 November 1915
Location Artois, France
50°30′N 2°45′E / 50.500°N 2.750°E / 50.500; 2.750Coordinates: 50°30′N 2°45′E / 50.500°N 2.750°E / 50.500; 2.750
Result German victory
United Kingdom United Kingdom
German Empire German Empire
Commanders and leaders
France Victor d'Urbal
United Kingdom John French
German Empire Crown Prince Rupprecht
French Tenth Army
10 Divisions
British First Army
8 Divisions
6th Army
9 Divisions
Casualties and losses
France 48,230
United Kingdom 61,713
German Empire c. 51,100

The Third Battle of Artois was on the Western Front of World War I, is also known as the Loos–Artois Offensive and included the big British offensive, known as the Battle of Loos. The offensive, meant to complement the Second Battle of Champagne, was the last attempt of 1915 by the French commander-in-chief Joseph Joffre to exploit an Allied numerical advantage over Germany. Joffre's plan was for simultaneous attacks in Champagne-Ardenne and Artois, to capture the railways at Attigny and Douai, to force a German withdrawal from the Noyon salient.


Joffre's plan was a series of attacks along the Western Front, supported by Italian attacks across the Isonzo River and a British Expeditionary Force (BEF) attack near Loos-en-Gohelle. At first, Field Marshal John French and General Sir Douglas Haig opposed the attack, because of the lie of the land, a lack of heavy artillery, ammunition and reserves. The generals were overruled by the British minister of war, Lord Horatio Kitchener, who ordered French and Haig to conduct the offensive.[1]


Following a four-day artillery bombardment starting on 21 September, infantry of the French Tenth Army attacked. By 26 September, the XXXIII and XXI corps had taken the village of Souchez but the III and XII corps had made little progress south-east of Neuville-St Vaast. The French failed to breach the German second line of defence and a breakthrough could not be achieved. Joffre sent the French IX Corps to assist the British attacks at Loos but this action also yielded little of strategic value.[2] The German Official Historians of the Reichsarchiv recorded German casualties to the end of October as 51,100 men.[3] Sheldon used figures taken from the French Official History to record 48,230 casualties, which was fewer than half of the casualties of the spring offensive from April to June.[4] J. E. Edmonds, the British Official Historian recorded 61,713 British and c. 26,000 German casualties at the Battle of Loos.[5][a]


  1. ^ BEF casualties in 1915 were 285,107.[6]


  1. ^ Doughty 2005, pp. 157–158.
  2. ^ Doughty 2005, pp. 187–188, 195–201.
  3. ^ Humphries & Maker 2010, p. 320.
  4. ^ Sheldon 2008, pp. 126, 128.
  5. ^ Edmonds 1928, pp. 392, 401.
  6. ^ Edmonds 1928, p. 393.


  • Doughty, R. A. (2005). Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. ISBN 0-67401-880-X. 
  • Edmonds, J. E. (1928). Military Operations France and Belgium, 1915: Battles of Aubers Ridge, Festubert, and Loos. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence II (1st ed.). London: Macmillan. OCLC 58962526. 
  • Humphries, M. O.; Maker, J. (2010). Germany's Western Front, 1915: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War II (1st ed.). Waterloo Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 978-1-55458-259-4. 
  • Sheldon, J. (2008). The German Army on Vimy Ridge 1914–1917. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1-84415-680-X. 

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