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Auction: 18002 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 355

'Advancing over open fields, within range of German machine-guns and artillery, British losses were devastating.'

Military Operations France and Belgium, 1915: Battles of Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos, refers.

Four: Lance-Corporal A. Deller, 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, who was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Loos, on which occasion Sergeant H. Wells, a Battalion comrade, won the Victoria Cross

Queen's South Africa 1899-1902, 3 clasps, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa 1902 (6422 Pte. A. Deller. Rl: Sussex Regt.); 1914 Star, with copy clasp (6422 Pte. A. Deller. 2/R.Suss:R.); British War and Victory Medals (L-6422 Pte. A. Deller. R. Suss. R.), nearly very fine (4)

Arthur Deller enlisted in Dublin and served with the Royal Sussex Regiment in France from 12 September 1914. The 2nd Battalion landed in France as part of 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division and took part in the Battle of Mons, Marne and the First Battle of Ypres. In May 1915 they were also heavily engaged at the Battle of Aubers Ridge which, as part of a larger Franco-British offensive, intended to exploit the German diversion of troops to the Eastern Front.

The opening day of the Battle of Loos and subsequent engagements between 25 September and 8 October 1915 proved extremely costly for the Allies. Attempting to halt the stalemate created by the evolution of the trench network, thus restoring a war of movement, the British commenced the largest attack of 1915, supported by a huge artillery barrage and their first use of poison gas; the advance did not go well. In many places British artillery had failed to cut the German wire and where gains were made, such as the capture of the town of Loos-en-Gohelle, supply and communication problems meant that any breakthroughs could not be exploited.

On 28 September 1915 General Rawlinson wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham, Private Secretary to the King:

'From what I can ascertain, some of the divisions did actually reach the enemy's trenches, for their bodies can now be seen on the barbed wire.'

48,367 British soldiers were killed or wounded in the main attack on 25 September 1915, including Deller. Incredibly it accounted for 20% of the casualties of the year. Sergeant Harry Wells, a comrade of the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, won the Victoria Cross near Le Routoire on 25 September 1915, rallying his men up to 15 yards in front of the German wire. Deller is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

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