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Loos (Municipality, Nord, France)

Last modified: 2021-06-27 by ivan sache
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Flag of Loos - Image by Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010

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Presentation of Loos

The municipality of Loos (21,410 inhabitants in 2006; 695 ha; municipal website) is located a few kilometers south-west of Lille.

Loos was named after the Latin word locus, lucus, "a height surrounded by marshes". In 1147, St. Bernard, upon request of the Count of Flanders Thierry of Alsace, founded an abbey in the clearing of Loos; the fame of this pilgrimage place quickly increased, so that the parish of Loos was made a municipality in 1214.
In the 17th century, a long trial opposed the Chapter of Seclin and the lord of Frennes for the rule over Loos; the dispute was eventually settled in 1689, the lord of Frennes being recognized the sole lord of Loos.
The belfry of Loos, registered on 15 July 2005 on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, was built in 1883-1884 by the architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier.

An Imperial Decree signed on 8 March 1812 transformed the abbey into a beggars' asylum; on 6 August 1817, a Royal Decree created in the former abbey a jailhouse for prisoners previously sent to Belgium. The jailhouse was completely rebuilt in 1906.
On 1 September 1944 - that is 48 hours before the liberation of Lille -, 871 prisoners, most of them arrested for anti-German resistance acts, were transported from the Loos jailhouse to the railway station of Tourcoing and further sent to Germany. Out of the 871 embarked on the "Loos train", 561 never came back.
Revamped in 2009, the Loos jailhouse is still in use.

The chemist and industrial Frédéric Kuhlmann (1803-1881) built in 1829 in Loos a factory to produce sulphuric acid; this was the first step in the growth of the Établissements Kuhlmann, later incorporated into the Péchiney-Ugine-Kuhlmann group. The cloth factories Thiriez (later, TCB, merged with DMC to form TCB- DMC, suppressed in 1993) and Delebart-Mallet were set up in Loos at the same time.
Famous for its gin and its fiercy competition with the Claeyssens distillery, located at Wambrechies, the Loos distillery was closed in 2000 by the Belgian group Grandes Distilleries de Charleroi, owner of the two distilleries. The whole equipement and manpower was relocated to the Wambrechies factory.

Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010

Flag of Loos

The flag of Loos, once hoisted on the belfry (photo), is red with three yellow crescents.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules three crescents or".
The arms of Loos date back to the Middle Ages, recalling that Thierry and William of Loos went on the Crusade with Count of Flanders Baldwin IX. The lords of Loos might have adopted arms recalling a standard captured from the Ottomans.
[Municipal website]

The arms of Loos are featured on Martin Doué's heraldic map (1623).
[Armorial des communes du département du Nord]

Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010

Amicale des déportés du Train de Loos


Flag of the Amicale des déportés du Train de Loos - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 11 July 2020

On 1 September 1944, the British Army advancing in the Liberation of the northern zone of France, the Germans regrouped all the prisoners jauled in Lille, Amiens, Arras, Valenciennes, Béthune... Forty-eight hours before the liberation of Lille, they formed at Tourcoing a convoy of 871 resistance fighters, considered by the Nazis to be "terrorists" and all detained in the prison of Loos. Prisoners were crammed into 12 cattle cars in which 90 men found themselves piled up, where there would be room only for 40, or even 8 horses.
The convoy, who would be subsequently known as the "Loos train", arrived in the region of Cologne on 3 September 1944. Most of the prisoners were assigned to demining the railways in Germany and then were interned in various Nazi concentration camps, such as Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen, Dachau or Buchenwald, and then dispatched to the camps of Kochendorf, Karlshagen, Neuengamme, Bergen-Belsen, and Mauthausen. The Loos train was the last convoy from France to the extermination camps. Of the 871 prisoners, only 275 returned. Some of them created the Amicale des déportés du Train de Loos. In 1972 James Venture (1921-2015) obtained a plot of land for the construction of a memorial (presentation), which was inaugurated on 25 October 25, 1975.

The flag of the prisoners of the Loos train is horizontally striped in white and blue, recalling the uniform worn in the camps, while the blood-red triangle in the center symbolizes the red insign worn on the chest by the deported resistance fighters.
The flag, donated by James Venture, President of the Amicale du train de Loos, is hoisted for each patriotic demonstration, and in particular for the Day of the Deportation. The flag can often be seen too in the Second World War Memorial in Halluin (photo<).
The flag was created not later than 1990. In May 1994, a new flag (photo), featuring a slightly bigger triangle, was hoisted in Halluin after the original flag had been stolen.

Olivier Touzeau, 11 July 2020