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  1. #1
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    The Somme Day by Day

    To mark the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, I am going to attempt a day by day account of the campaign. (God help us). I reproduced the map from johnclare.net, hope he doesn't mind.

    Although it became a 141 day long slogging match lasting until the 18th of November, the original plan anticipated a general advance along an 18 mile front on day one. This plan failed and as we know, the first day of the battle was the bloodiest in British history with almost 60,000 casualties of which 20,000 were fatalities.



    Saturday 1st July 1916. Day 1.

    Gommecourt

    VII Corps, consisting of the 46 (North Midlands) and 56 (London) Divisions was to attack the village of Gommecourt. This was the northernmost area on the Somme front and the attack was in fact just a diversion to draw the Germans away from the main assault to the south. Furthermore VII Corps was in Third Army while Rawlinson’s Fourth Army was to conduct the Somme Offensive.

    The 56th Division attacked south of Gommecourt and the 46th north of the village. The 56th quickly captured the German frontline trench. However the assault on the second line failed and was driven back to the German frontline trench by 4pm. The 46th division failed to take it’s initial objective and the Divisonal Commander was later sacked.

    Serre

    The plan here was for the 31st Division to break through the German lines, take Serre and cover the northern flank of the attack on Beaumont Hamel. The attack was hampered by poor artillery support which lifted from the German frontline at ten minutes before Zero. The creeping barrage moved far more quickly than the infantry advance and the smoke screen that was planned to cover the advance never appeared. The infantry began to advance at 7.30 but was quickly halted by German machine gun and artillery fire. In this division the Accrington, Barnsley and Leeds Pals battalions fought. One group of the Accrington Pals made it into Serre but was cut off and annihilated. 580 out of 720 men of this battalion were killed or wounded.

    Beaumont Hamel


    This area was attacked by the 29th Division, their first operation in France having moved from Gallipoli early in the year. The Dublin and Munster Fusiliers were in the Division. Here also the Newfoundland Regiment began it’s fruitless advance from the reserve trenches across open ground. The communications trenches which they should have used were clogged with dead and wounded men. In this area the Hawthorn Ridge mine was detonated, the explosion being filmed by a cameraman and the film shown on every WW1 documentary ever since. The Hawthorn Ridge mine was detonated ten minutes before Zero hour giving the surviving Germans ample warning of the pending attack. From near the cameraman’s position the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers attacked Beaumont Hamel from the treet>Sunken Roadtreet>

    Thiepval

    The 32nd and 36th (Ulster)Divisions attacked here attempting to capture the high ground around the village of Thiepval. Fortunes were mixed for various units. South of Thiepval the 17th Highland Light Infantry crawled to within 40 yards of the German line before zero hour and dashed forward to capture the Leipzig Redoubt and establish a new line 400 yards beyond it. At Thiepval itself the Newcastle Commercials were decimated as they advanced through the gaps in their own wire, while the Salford Pals advanced through the village only to be cut off and destroyed by the Germans who were supposed to have been killed in their dugouts by the artillery. By afternoon, the HLI had retreated back to the German line, support having failed to reach them.

    North of Thiepval the Inniskilling Fusiliers advanced 400 yards and captured the Schwaben Redoubt. Here they were joined at 8.30 by the Royal Irish Rifles who advanced on Stuff Redoubt, the division’s second objective. However they advanced into their own barrage and were decimated. The survivors retreated to the old German line.

    Last edited by Groundhog; 28th October 2006 at 12:54.

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  2. #2
    Chief of the Diet Tribe Groundhog's Avatar
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    Ovillers

    Here the 8th Division, including the 1st Bn, Royal Irish Rifles was tasked with a direct assault on the village itself. In this area No Man's Land was 400 yards wide. South of the village the attack was conducted by 23 Brigade, 70 of whom reached the German front line, but they were forced out of it by a counter-attack after 2 hours. The 70th Brigade north of the village, attacking up a sunken road called 'The Nab' managed to reach the German Front line, but were stopped 80 yards short of the German second line by a machine gun at the top of the valley. In the centre, 25 Brigade were slaughtered as they tried to cross No Man's Land; very few of the reached the German line, and they failed to hold onto it.
    Of about 300 officers and 8000 men, the Division lost 189 officers and 4719 men dead or wounded.

    La Boiselle


    La Boiselle is situated on a ridge of high ground separated from Ovillers by MashValley. SausageValley lay south of the ridge. The 34th Division was tasked with capturing La Boiselle, attacking up the two valleys. Near La Boiselle was detonated the huge mine that created the Lochnagar Crater. The Tyneside Irish Brigade formed part of the 34th Div and was in support that morning. At Zero hour they left the Support Trenches and advanced to the front line to follow the Tyneside Scottish in the attack. The 34th Div captured the German front line trench but advanced little further. A group of the Tyneside Irish advanced a full 4km to Contalmaison before being surrounded and wiped out by the Germans. Of 16 Divisions which attacked on 1st July, the 34th suffered the heaviest casualties.

    Fricourt

    The village of Fricourt was exposed in a right-angled spur on the German line. The plan was that the 21st Division would attack eastwards around the village to the north and the 7th Division would attack northwards from the south (through the village of Mametz). Then, when the Germans in Fricourt were cut off, the 7th Green Howards of the 21st Division would make a direct frontal assault on the village itself. The 7th managed to advance 700 yards before being forced back to the German front line trench the 21st just managed the capture of the German line in their area. 2nd Bn Royal Irish Regiment was in 7th Division though they were in reserve and not committed on the day. The attack on Fricourt was observed by Siegfried Sassoon from an OP behind the British line. The area also holds the DevonshireTrenchCemetery in Mansell Copse. Capt Martin, a Company Commander in the Devonshires had predicted that his battalion would suffer casualties from a German Machine Gun post in MametzCemetery. He was right and he and many of his men are buried in the trench from which they advanced.

    Montauban

    The most successful attack of the day with an assault by two divisions on a two mile front. In this area Capt Neville of the 8th Bn, East Surrey Regt started the attack by booting a football into No Man’s Land. Montauban was quickly overrun and the British linked up with the French in Glatz redoubt. The smoke screen worked, the infantry kept up with the artillery and a flamethrower was used to clear German dugouts.

    The French

    South of the British five French Divisions attacked at 9.30 and advanced over 1 km before consolidating.

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  3. #3
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    ' The Somme -From Defeat to Victory 'was a drama documentry shown tonight on bbc 1 ,exploring the battle from the soldiers perspective .

    It showed the influence the conflict had on military strategy for years to come.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by haribo
    ' The Somme -From Defeat to Victory 'was a drama documentry shown tonight on bbc 1 ,exploring the battle from the soldiers perspective .

    It showed the influence the conflict had on military strategy for years to come.
    unfortunatly i only caught the last 20 min or so of it , mind you it was enthralling to watch up there with bbc's other docuramas .

    its also being released on dvd so could well be worth picking up
    Anyone need a spleen ?

  5. #5
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    Sunday 2nd July 1916. Day 2.

    Thiepval

    The 36th Divison held the ground it had captured despite several German counter attacks until relieved at dusk by 49th Division. The 29th took over the area north of the river Ancre.

    Ovillers
    A dawn attack was cancelled and 12th Div relieved the 8th. during the day. Preparations were made for an attack on the following day.


    La Boiselle

    The 19th Division attacked and captured La Boiselle in the evening. A night attack had failed to materialise the previous evening due to the inability of the 57th and 58th Bdes to get forward through the crowded communications trenches. By dawn on the 2nd only one battalion (9th Cheshires, 58th Bde)had advanced to relieve the remnants of the 34th Div at Schwaben Hohe crater.

    58th Bde attacked La Boiselle at 4pm while a diversionary bombardment and smokescreen were laid on Ovillers. Meanwhile 34th Div and two companies of the East Lancs from 57th Bde captured 1000 yards of trench beyond Sausage Redoubt.In La Boiselle 6th Wiltshires and 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers captured the German trench west of the village. Reinforced by 9th Cheshires the western end of the village was captured by 9pm.

    Fricourt

    The village was occupied in the early morning having been entered by a patrol of the 8th Bn, Staffordshire Regt during the night. It was fully occupied by noon and the 7th Div advanced into Fricourt Wood capturing some German trenches in the area. The 21st and 7th Divisions linked up at 2pm at a copse called Poodles north of Fricourt.

    Montauban area

    From 3am the Germans made two counterattacks on the 30th Division from Bernafay Wood. Both attacks were broken up by artillery and an attempt was made to set the wood alight with Thermite.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 3rd July 2006 at 02:06.

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  6. #6
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    Monday 3rd July 1916.. Day 3

    All the effort is now concentrated mostly south of the treet>Albert-Bapaume Roadtreet> between La Boiselle and Montauban. The only action north of the road is at Ovillers.


    Ovillers

    Another attack on this village by the 12th Div ended in total failure at a cost of 2,400 casualties.

    North of Ovillers, the 32nd Div reinforced by 75 Bde of 25th Div attacked the Leipzig Redoubt near Authuille Wood. There was utter confusion over start times and the 32nd Div attack consisted of only two companies of the Highland Light Infantry. After two attempts no gains were made.


    La Boiselle

    Fighting continued here with 34th Div trying to link up with 19th Div. 34th Div relieved by 23rd Div in the night. During the early morning 19th Div advanced 100 yards in the east end of the village.



    Fricourt

    North East of Fricourt, attacks were made on Bottom Wood and Shelter Wood, the 17th Div capturing the former and 21st Div the latter. Counterattacks from Contalmaison were repulsed at 2pm.



    Mametz Wood

    An attempt to capture this wood by 1st Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 2nd Bn Royal Irish Regt (both 7th Div) failed when both battalions got lost on the way.


    Caterpillar Wood, Montauban

    Captured by 10th Bn, Essex Regt (53 Bde, 18th Div) at 4am.


    Bernafay Wood, Montauban

    Bernafay Wood, east of Montauban was attacked at 9am by 6th Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers and 12th Bn Royal Scots (both 27th Bde, 9th Div). The two battalions advanced 500 yards, capturing 17 prisoners, three field guns and three machine guns. Patrols entered Trones Wood.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 3rd July 2006 at 03:12.

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  7. #7
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    Tuesday 4th July 1916. Day 4


    Most of the activity is still concentrated south of the treet>Albert-Bapaume Roadtreet>. The Gemans have been pushed back from 1 to 2 km between Fricourt and Montauban. The village of La Boiselle has been captured save some ruins at the east end of the village. North of the road, the opposing forces have more or less remained static since July 1st.


    Thiepval

    The 49th Division had to fight off German bombing parties north of Thiepval from 9.30am. A counterattack was unsuccessful as were two night attacks on St. Pierre Divion.

    La Boiselle

    Fighting continued in the village with 56th Bde clearing the ruins.

    Fricourt

    The 17th Div was engaged in trench fighting working it’s way towards Contalmaison, 2km north of Shelter Wood.

    Montauban area

    During the night the 18th Div advanced from Caterpillar Wood and occupied Marlboro Wood unopposed.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 3rd July 2006 at 23:21.

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  8. #8
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    Wednesday 5th July 1916. Day 5



    Mametz Wood

    At 12.45am four battalions- 2nd Royal Irish, 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers of 22 Bde, 7th Div and from 52 Bde, 17th Div, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers and 10th Lancashire Fusiliers launched an attack on Mametz Wood. The 17th Div secured it’s objectives of Quadrangle Trench and Shelter Alley. The Royal Irish were held up by wire and counter attacked by the Germans, failing to secure the Wood and Wood Trench despite three attempts.

    The photograph below shows Mametz Wood as it is today. The meanderind wood on the left above Mametz wood is Caterpillar Wood. 7th Div's attack started on the rising ground just south of the wood, the front line ran more or less east-west in that area on July 5th. This and other aerial photos of the Somme are on the Westren Front Association Website.




    From the War Diary of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Regt 5th - 6th July 1916

    The 2nd Royal Irish and 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers were ordered to attack Quadrangle Trench – Wood Trench and south corner of Mametz Wood with the 1st Royal Warwicks in support at Bottom Wood. Our objective was Wood Trench and Mametz Wood. This attack was commenced at 10:15pm under a heavy barrage from our guns. C Company under Captain Bell was ordered to attack Wood Trench with A Company in support. The Grenade Company under Captain Gordon-Ralph was again ordered to attack Strip Trench with B Company on their right to form a defensive flank. D Company was kept in Battalion reserve. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers attacked on our left, their objective being Quadrangle Trench.
    A rapid and dashing attack was made by all the Companies concerned. C Company reached the wire in front of Wood Trench in less than 10 minutes, while the Grenade Company again entered Strip Trench. The wire in front of Wood Trench was found by C Company to be uncut and being extremely thick could not be penetrated. This Company was exposed to a very heavy close range fire and suffered severely, Captain Bell being killed in the German wire and two of his officers wounded. C Company was ordered to retire about 50 yards under cover of a fold in the ground and await reinforcements from A Company which were brought up rapidly by Captain O’Reilly who took command of both Companies. Three times between midnight and dawn Captain O’Reilly attacked Wood Trench in the most gallant manner, each time being only held up by the German wire which proved an insurmountable obstacle. The enemy's fire was intense and their trenches were very strongly held.
    At dawn at the Commanding Officer ordered Captain O’Reilly to give it up and return which he was most reluctant to do although severely wounded in the hand. On our left the Royal Welsh Fusiliers entered the German trenches but were unable to bomb along to our assistance as the Quadrangle Trench did not join up with Wood Trench. Meanwhile the Grenade Company covered by B Company were hammering away at Strip Trench and here fighting was almost entirely of hand to hand nature. Captain Gordon-Ralph was wounded in the neck but carried on until carried away unconscious. Lieutenant Pike who took command of the Grenade Company led two attacks on Strip Trench and once again entered Mametz Wood only to be driven out by fierce bombing counter attacks. Captain Moore-Brabazon was a wounded in the foot by an enemy bayonet and handed over command of the company to Lieutenant Blake who was blown up by a shell and carried away shortly after.
    Attack after attack was made but progress was impossible and after about 3:30am the battalion was ordered by the BGC 22nd Brigade to retire and return to Mansel Copse.
    Our casualties in this attack were 125 all ranks. Captain Bell and Lieutenant White were killed, both inside the German wire; Captain Moore-Brabazon, Captain O'Reilly, Lieutenant Blake, Captain Gordon-Ralph, Lieutenant Price and CSM Burns were wounded. The Chaplain, the Reverend Father Fitzmaurice distinguished himself by rescuing wounded under heavy fire and RSM Carew did very good work getting up ammunition under fire.

    Further north 69 Bde of 23rd Div launched an attack on Horseshoe Trench and Lincoln Redoubt. The 9th Bn Green Howards, 10th Duke of Wellington’s Regt and 11th West Yorks were engaged in heavy fighting all day finally capturing both objectives in the evening but failing to link up with 17th Div.

    La Boiselle
    The village has been captured but now forms a salient in the line with the Germans holding ground to north and south. An unsuccessful attempt was made by the bombers of 56 and 57 Bde 19th Div to straighten the line to the south.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 5th July 2006 at 10:30.

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  9. #9
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    Thursday 6th July 1916. Day 6
    La Boiselle
    19th Div succeeded in straightening the line south of La Boiselle.

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  10. #10
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    Friday 7th July 1916. Day 7

    Thiepval

    The 25th and 49th Divisions were attacked by the Germans with mixed results. At 1.15 am the Germans attacked 7 Bde, 25th Div holding the Leipzig Salient, the attack here was beaten off after a 4 hour bombing contest between the two sides. Two companies of the 1st Bn, Wiltshire Regt and the 3rd Bn Worcestershire Regt then advanced and captured a length of the German front line and held it.

    North of Thiepval on the river Ancre, 148 Bde was beaten back to it’s old frontline after a 6 hour bombardment and grenade assault.

    Ovillers
    12th Div resumed offensive operations at Ovillers, the first since Monday, with a two-pronged attack, the first by 74 Bde at 8 am from the south across MashValley. Here the 9th Loyal North Lancashire Regt and 13th Bn, the Cheshire Regt were halted by MG fire. The second prong was from the west by 36 Bde (8th and 9th Bns Royal Fusiliers and 7th Bn Royal Sussex Regt). These battalions lost 300 men to artillery fire. Despite these setbacks, three lines of German trenches were captured. During the night the 8th Bn South Lancs advanced and linked the two brigades.

    Contalmaison

    Contalmaison is a village 1500 yards east of La Boiselle. Two divisions (23rd and 19th) attacked in the area of Contalmaison on July 7th.

    23rd Division

    23rd Div attacked with two brigades, 24 Bde whose objective was Contalmaison itself and 68 Bde which was to capture Bailiff Wood to the south of the village.

    24 Bde left the start line in Shelter Wood at 10am with 1st Bn, Worcesters and 2nd Bn, East Lancs in front. The Worcesters entered the village and then had to repel two counter-attacks in half an hour. Eventually the Germans regained control of Contalmaison and the Worcesters consolidated just outside the village.

    The East Lancs on lower ground made no progress in the face of machine gun fire and a rain storm.

    11th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers in 68 Bde reached Bailiff Wood but were driven back 400 yards where they linked up with 19th Div.

    19th Division

    The division’s objectives were some trenches running between Bailiff Wood and La Boiselle. Two battalions led the assault, 9th Bn Welsh Regt and 7th Bn, King’s Own. The attack was delayed by 15 minutes and started at 8.15 am behind a creeping barrage. The reason for this was that the attacking troops had to move over 300m of open ground to reach the objective. Close to the enemy positions a mix up in timings caused the infantry to move into their own bombardment, causing some losses and inevitable disorganisation. The two battalions re-orged, were reinforced by 6th Bn, Royal Wiltshires and the enemy positions were taken and consolidated with further reinforcement by 9th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 56th MG Coy.

    Mametz Wood

    The 38th (Welsh) Div, which had relieved 7th Div on the 5th, launched it’s attack on Mametz Wood. The attack began at 8.30am with 115 Bde advancing north west from the line Caterpillar Wood-Marlboro Wood. 16th Bn, Welsh Regt and 11th Bn, South Wales Borderers were held up by machine gun fire. Another attempt was made at 10.15am reinforced by 10th Bn, South Wales Borderers but the attack was again halted by machine gun fire 250 yards from the objective. The Bde then withdrew back to the start line.

    The 17th Div with three battalions assaulted two German trenches south of the village OF Contalmaison, between it and Mametz Wood. 9th Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers and the right flank of 10th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers (both 52 Bde) were held up by their own bombardment falling short. Then finding the barbed wire intact they were forced to retire. Some Lancashire Fusiliers took Pearl Alley trench and entered Contalmaison but were driven back by a German attack at 7am. 52 Bde tried again at 8am with 12th Bn, Manchester Regt and 9th Bn, Duke of Wellington’s Regt attacking Quadrangle Support. The German attack had delayed their starting and their barrage had lifted so the attack failed due to heavy MG fire from Mametz Wood.

    On the right, 50 Bde of 17th Div attacked the west side of Mametz Wood but were driven back with heavy losses. Another attempt was made at 8pm, this time by 51 Bde. This attack was again driven back with the Bde suffering 400 casualties.

    A plan for a further attack during the night by 17th Div on Contalmaison was abandoned.

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    Saturday 8th July 1916. Day 8

    Ovillers
    12th Div continued offensive operations. 36 Bde had been reinforced by two battalions overnight (7th Bn, East Surreys and 9th Bn, Essex Regt). At 3.45am the brigade tried to bomb forward but was hampered by mud. Mud was becoming a problem as it had rained during three days of the previous week. After heavy fighting the brigade advanced 200 yards into the ruined village. From MashValley meanwhile, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles and 13th Bn Cheshire Regt of 74 Bde and 8th South Lancs of 75 Bde advanced into the village, turned right and captured a trench near the church. At 8pm 74 Bde renewed it’s attack. A company of Lancashire Fusiliers advanced too far and found themselves under bombardment from their own artillery. Despite this they held and consolidated their 600 yard gain with the help of the Royal Irish and Cheshires.

    32nd Div relieved 12th Div after dark.

    Contalmaison
    23rd Div with 1st Worcesters and 2nd Northamptons made another unsuccessful attack on Contalmaison.

    19th Div meanwhile had to fight off a German attack at 6pm and were then ordered to take an enemy trench south of Ovillers in support of 12th Div’s attack on the village.

    Mametz Wood

    The 38th (Welsh) Div, made another attempt on Mametz Wood in the early morning from the south west. 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers was stopped by mud and barbed wire before reaching the start line.

    Battalions of 17th Div meanwhile spent fourteen hours fighting their way towards the wood from the west. 50 and 51 Bde bombers attempted to advance from Quadrangle Trench and Pearl Alley at 6am. Little progress was made in the face of determined German defence and knee deep mud and a halt was called at 10am.

    An attempt was made to co-ordinate 17th Divs attack with the assault on Contalmaison further north but this failed to materialise and at 5.50pm after a half hour bombardment 7th Green Howards and 6th Dorstes were sent in again with little success.

    At 9pm a company of the Dorsets managed to capture two-thirds of Wood Trench and dig a communication trench back to the rear.

    Trones Wood

    Marked on British maps as Trones Wood, this wood is the Bois de Troncs. The first attack on this wood was made on July 8th. XIII Corps artillery as well as that of 30th Div bombarded the wood while 18th Div artillery bombarded the village of Longueval. The woods in this area were dense, mature timber and the bombardments would cause endless problems for the attacking infantry by creating piled timber obstacles in the line of attack.

    The aerial photo below (again from www.westernfrontassociation.com )is a continuation more or less left of the previous one of Mametz wood. The front line comes from the right, north of Bernafay Wood then swings sharply south around the wood. Here the frontline trench was known as Dublin Alley, incidentally. On the map reproduced on July 1st Bernafay and Trones wood are the two unnamed ones east of Montauban with Bernafay on the left and Trones on the right. Just south of Trones Wood is Maltz Horn Farm.



    9th Div began the attack on Trones Wood from Bernafay Wood at 8am. This attack failed so an attempt was made to bomb their way down Trones Alley trench, which approximately followed the tree line linking the two woods in the photo. Again this failed. After another unsuccessful direct assault the Green Howards were withdrawn and 30th Div committed.

    30th Div began it’s action at 1pm with a company attack by 2nd Wiltshires from south of Bernafay wood at La Briqueterie to Maltz Horn Trench. Here they repulsed a German counter-attack and were reinforced by a company of the 19th Bn Manchester Regt. The remainder of the Wiltshires meanwhile advanced and entrenched on the south east edge of Trones Wood. Here they were reinforced by two companies of 18th Bn Kings Regt, another of 19th Bn Manchester Regt and the 18th Manchesters.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 8th July 2006 at 03:03.

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    Sunday 9th July 1916. Day 9


    Ovillers

    14 Bde, 32nd Div continued the fighting on the west side of Ovillers with little result. The same applied to 25th Div south of the village.

    Contalmaison

    23rd Div attempted to improve it’s positions south and west of Contalmaison. Patrols of 12th Bn, Durham Light Infantry entered Bailiff Wood, a small copse south east of the village but were forced back by their own artillery. A two company assault on the wood at 6pm was delayed by a German attack. However at 8pm they advanced and occupied the wood and trenches either side of it.


    Mametz Wood


    For his failure to capture Mametz Wood the Divisional Commander of 38th Welsh Div, Maj-Gen. I. Philipps, was sacked.

    A two battalion attack by 17th Div was launched on Quadrangle Support Trench at 11.20 pm. 7th Bn Green Howards and 8th Bn South Staffords were supported by the bombers of 7th Lincolns. The attack failed despite the Staffords reaching the objective at a loss of 219 men. With no flank support they were forced to withdraw.

    Trones Wood

    At 3am 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers of 30th Div successfully bombed their way along the remainder of Maltz Horn Trench from Maltz Horn Farm to the Trones Wood-Guillemont track.

    At the same time a 17th Manchesters attack into the wood was delayed by a German gas attack. When they did commence the attack at 6am they were held up by the density of the wood and by fallen timber. Despite this they reached the eastern end of the wood, linking up with the Scots Fusiliers at 8am, and sent patrols to the northern end of the wood. A massive German bombardment at noon forced a withdrawal by the 17th Manchesters. The 18th Manchesters (bar one company)were driven back from their positions at the south east edge of the wood and the Royal Scots Fusiliers were forced back along Maltz Horn Trench to the boundary of Trones Wood where they blocked the trench. This company and the Scots were left to drive back a big German attack on the wood at 3pm. An attack by 16th Manchesters at 7pm regained the ground south west of Trones Wood where they dug in.
    Last edited by Groundhog; 9th July 2006 at 14:35.

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  13. #13
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    Monday 10th July 1916. Day 10

    Ovillers
    25th Div was still plugging away at Ovillers. 11th Bn, Cheshire Regt made a frontal attack on the village. 8th Bn, Loyal North Lancs tried to fight around the rear of Ovillers from the treet>Albert-Bapaume Roadtreet> making little headway and fighting off German counter attacks. 2nd Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attacked from the tate>north westtate> with a little success.

    Contalmaison

    The 8th and 9th Bns of the Green Howards, 23rd Div, finally captured Contalmaison at 4.30pm after a 2000 yard advance under heavy fire. In conjunction with them, two companies of the 11th Bn West Yorkshire Regt made a flank attack from Bailiff Wood. They caught the retreating Germans from the side. The 10th Duke of Wellington’s, 11th West Yorks and 101st Field Coy, RE consolidated with the Green Howards in Contalmaison.

    With Contalmaison captured, 17th Div began to clear trenches south towards Mametz Wood. 51 Bde bombed their way from a sunken road east of the village into Quadrangle Support Trench. 50 Bde bombed along Strip Trench into Wood Support, clearing it after hand to hand fighting and linking up with 38th Div in Mametz Wood.

    Mametz Wood



    38th Welsh Div committed the four battalions of 114 Bde (10th,13th , 14th and 15th Bns Welsh Regt) to an attack from south of the wood at 4.15am following a 45 minute bombardment. 14th and 16th Bns Royal Welsh Fusiliers (113 Bde) were in support. 114 Bde pushed into the wood as far as the first ride and dug in.

    At 6.15am the advance continued as far as the second ride. From here followed a day of indecisive fighting with attempts to clear a area called the Hammerhead projecting from the eastern edge of the wood and Quadrangle Alley. 13th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers began fighting along Wood Suport Trench at 2.30 pm and linked up with 50 Bde fighting down from Contalmaison.

    At 4.30pm the 10th Bn South Wales Borderers, 14th and 15th Bns Welsh Regt were sent to clear the Hammerhead. By 6.30pm Mametz Wood was cleared to within 40 yards of the northern edge where progress was halted by MG fire from beyond the wood. The Welsh consolidated 200 yards from the edge of the wood.


    Trones Wood

    30th Div continued fighting in Trones Wood assisted by one company from 4th South African Regt (9th Div). There was fighting in Central Trench in Trones Wood and in Longueval Alley North East of Bernafay Wood but by 8am the Germans had driven the British back and reoccupied Trones Wood.

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    Tuesday 11th July 1916. Day 11

    Mametz Wood

    More fighting by 115 Bde of 38th Division. 10th, 15th and 16th Bns, the Welsh Regt and 15th Bn South Wales Borderers were ordered to clear the remainder of the wood. Only the 16th Welsh encountered major opposition from MG fire and flamethrowers. The line was fixed 60 yards from the northern edge of the wood until a German bombardment at night forced a withdrawal.

    It was 38th (Welsh) Div’s last day in Mametz Wood and it’s last day in action for a year. In five days the division had lost 4000 men, about one-third of it’s strength.

    Trones Wood

    In 30th Div 89 Bde relieved 90 Bde in the line at 1am. At 3.30am 20th Bn The King’s Regt began to bomb it’s way along Maltz Horn Trench. 2nd Bn, Bedfordshire Regt meanwhile began an advance on the wood itself from the south west. The Bedford’s two right hand companies occupied the south east edge of the wood under MG fire while the two left hand companies entered the wood between Trones Alley and the railway. At noon the Germans had cleared the north end of the wood again. At 10.30pm 17th Bn The King’s Regt attacked from the sunken road near La Briqueterie, reached the south east edge of the wood where they dug in and put up barbed wire.

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    Wednesday 12th July 1916. Day 12

    Ovillers
    10th Bn Cheshire Regt, 8th Bn Border Regt and 2/5th Bn Lancashire Regt attacked Ovillers from the south and south east. Meanwhile 96 Bde attacked from the west making some progress.

    Mametz Wood

    62 Bde of 21st Div had relieved the remnants of 38th Div overnight. Patrols from the Green Howards and Northumberland Fusiliers found the wood deserted. They consolidated and linked up with 1st Div on their left and 7th Div on the right.

    Trones Wood

    17th Bn The King’s Regt and 2nd Bn, Bedfordshire Regt linked up in Trones Wood. At 8.30 pm a German attack was beaten off.

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    Thursday 13th July 1916. Day 13

    Today marks the last day of The Battle of Albert, the first stage of the Somme Campaign.

    Trones Wood

    18th Div relieved 30th Div before Dawn.

    18th Div began operations at 7pm. 7th Buffs made several unsuccessful bombing attacks along Maltz Horn Trench towards a German strongpoint.

    A two battalion attack was launched on the wood itself with 7th Bn, the West Kents on the right and 7th Queen’s on the right. The West Kents lost direction and came under fire from Central Trench. 150 of the battalion reached the east end of the wood south of the Guillemont track. The Queen’s failed to reach the wood at all and retired at 9pm.

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  17. #17
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    Friday 14th July 1916. Day 14

    Pozieres

    Patrols from 34th Div reached the southern area of Pozieres in the belief that the village was unoccupied. They were driven back by the Germans.

    Bazentin Ridge




    The map shows the arae of Bazentin Ridge on July 14th. The Red line is the attackers Start Line. Blue is the German positions before the attack and the dotted red line indicates the ground gained during the attack.


    Four Divisions participated in the assault on BazentinRidge- from left to right 21st, 7th, 3rd and 9th (Scottish).

    The 21st and 7th and 3rd were to capture the twin villages of Bazentin le Petit and Bazentin le Grand (and the woods which were named for the villages) while the 9th was to assault Longueval. Bazentin le Grand is slightly misnamed as it consisted of just a few farm buildings while Bazentin le Petit is a real village.

    While some artillery preparation had been ongoing for three days it was kept to a minimum so as not to warn the Germans of a major attack. Instead a 5 minute hurricane bombardment fell on the German line at 3.20am. The four attacking divisions moved into No-Man’s Land under cover of darkness and occupied start lines a few hundred yards from the German trenches.

    21st Division

    110 Bde conducted 21st Div’s attack on Bazentin le Petit Wood. The assaulting battalions were 6th and 7th Bns of the Leicestershire Regt with a company of 8th Leicesters. The remainder of the 8th were in support with 9th Leicesters and 1st East Yorks in reserve. The brigade commenced the attack at 3.25am and was in possession of the wood by 4am despite a minor hold up of the left flank by MG fire. 110 Bde held Bazentin le Petit Wood until relieved by 1st Div in the evening.








    7th Division

    20 Bde was tasked with the assault on Bazentin le Grand Wood with 2nd Bn the Border Regt, 9th Devons (less two companies which had to occupy the covering trenches in front of Caterpillar Wood), 2nd Bn KOSB and 8th Devons in Flat Iron Copse. 22 Bde was in reserve in Mametz Wood.The strongpoints to overcome including Flatiron Trench, Marlboro Trench and The Snout. Luckily the barrage killed all the enemy in the Snout and destroyed the barbed wire. 20 Bde occupied the German First and Second Lines without difficulty. Waiting for the bombardment to lift from the wood, they occupied it and consolidated before 4.30am.

    2nd Bn, the Warwickshire Regt moved forward from Mametz Wood through 20 Bde followed by 2nd Royal Irish Regt. The Warwicks covered the Irish attack on Bazentin Le Petit village at 6.30am. The village was cleared in an hour with the assistance of 6th Leicesters from 21st Div. The Germans counterattacked at 8.30am and forced the Irish back from the north end of the village but the Germans were in turn forced back when the Irish were reinforced by 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders. The position was consolidated and further German attacks fought off.

    3rd Division

    8 Bde was tasked with assaulting the German front line in front of Bazentin le Grand. 8th Bn, East Yorkshire Regt and 7th Bn, Shropshire Light Infantry were deployed in a sunken road. 1st Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers were in support and 2nd Bn, the Royal Scots were in reserve. Here the barrage had failed to cut the wire and the attack was held up until a company of the Royal Scots broke through and bombed along the front line.

    1st Northumberland Fusiliers (9 Bde) then passed through and captured the village in the face of heavy MG fire.

    9th (Scottish) Division


    26 and 27 Bdes attacked from Montauban Alley north east to Longueval and Delville Wood. 26 Bde was on the right flank with 8th Black Watch and 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the assault, 7th Bn Seaforth Highlanders in support and 5th Bn Cameron Highlanders in reserve south of Montauban.

    27 Bde on the left led with 11th Royal Scots and 9th Scottish Rifles. 12th Royal Scots were in support.

    The leading wave of the attack reached the edge of Delville Wood without a shot fired. By 10 am the Scots had captured all immediate objectives except a strongpoint near Longueval, the northern part of the village and Waterlot Farm (actually a sugar refinery).
    Last edited by Groundhog; 14th July 2006 at 02:17.

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  18. #18
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    Friday 14th July 1916. Continued

    High Wood

    The next wood east of Bazentin, this area saw the only cavalry charge of the Somme Campaign when a squadron of 7th Dragoon Guards and another of 20th Deccan Horse, from the high ground between Delville Wood and High Wood charged infantry and machine gun positions in the area. At 9.30 pm they took up a line from Longueval to the southern tip of High Wood.

    Trones Wood

    After a week of fighting in Trones Wood the honour of capturing it fell to the 18th Div. The capture of the wood was vital since it flanked the assault on Bazentin Ridge. 54 Bde was tasked with the job and the initial plan had 12th Middlesex leading the attack with 6th Northamptons following to mop up and defend the right flank. 11th Royal Fusiliers and 2nd Bedfords were in support. However by 2.30 the Middlesex were not yet in position at the start line (which was the usual sunken road at La Briqueterie) while the Northamptons were. So the 6th Northamptons attacked at3.25am, entering the wood at 4.30 at the south western edge. A redoubt in Central Trench held out for some time but fell at 6am. Things now got confused, with the advancing troops getting lost in the tangle of fallen trees, barbed wire and shell holes. When they broke free of the wood they assumed they were at the northern end while in fact they had wandered into a projection of the east side. At 8am the Middlesex entered the wood and their CO, Col Maxwell gathered his men, lost Northamptons and men of the 7th Royal West Kents who had been in the wood overnight. A company of the Middlesex took a strongpoint on the Guillemont road, while 7th Buffs cleared Maltz Horn trench. Trones Wood was cleared and consolidated at 9.30am.

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    Saturday 15th July 1916. Day 15

    Thiepval

    At Leipzig Salient troops of 49th Div fought off a German grenade and flamethrower attack.

    Ovillers

    A three pronged attack by troops of the 25th and 32nd Divs yielded no results.

    Pozieres

    At 9.20am 8th Bn, East Lancashire Regt (112 Bde, 34th Div) started a 1200 yard advance from Contalmaison to Pozieres. They were halted 300 yards from the village by MG fire. At 6pm the advance was resumed for a short period then 112 Bde and one battalion of 111 Bde consolidated.

    Bazentin Le Petit

    1st Bn, Loyal North Lancashire Regt began 1st Div’s operations in this area at 9am by attacking along the line of the German front and support trenches. They gained 400 yards of trench before being halted by MG fire. At 5pm 2nd Bn, the Welsh Regt resumed the attack but were again halted. After dark they managed to link up with 34th Div to the tate>north westtate>.


    High Wood

    High Wood was the soldiers name for the Bois de Forceaux (Raven’s Wood).

    The Cavalry withdrew at 3.40am.


    At 9am 7th Div began an assault on High Wood with 91 Bde, 2nd Bn Queen’s Regt, 1st Bn South Staffords and 21st Bn, the Manchester Regt. They were stopped by MG fire from a trench known as the Switch Line which ran through the wood. The Germans attacked at 2.30pm but were beaten back.Another attempt on the wood was made at 4.45pm with no gain and a complete withdrawal was ordered at 11.25pm.

    To 7th Div’s left and at the same time 3 battalions of the 33rd Div- 1/9th Highland Light Infantry, 1st Bn, the Queen’s Regt and 1st Middlesex attacked the Switch Line and the western edge of High Wood. The entire attack foundered in the face of heavy MG and artillery fire and throwing 16th King’s Royal Rifle Corps and 2nd Worcesters into the attack proved useless. The assault was abandoned and both brigades withdrawn.

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    Saturday 15th July 1916 Continued.

    Delville Wood



    Today sees the start of the Battle of Delville Wood. We’ll be reading a lot of this place as the fighting for it lasted until 3rd September.

    Some placenames that the soldiers used in this area can be picked out on this photo.

    North St- the road running north from the Y-Junction in Longueval.
    South St- the treet>Ginchy Roadtreet> which runs south of Delville Wood where Delville Wood cemetery is today.
    Picadilly- the road running parallel to and west of treet>North Sttreet>.
    Clarges St- the by-road running west to east into the Y-junction
    Duke St-north of Clarges St and parallel to it in the area of the trees

    The rides in Delville Wood were also named after streets.
    Prince’s St- The ride running west to east through the wood.
    Running north from Prince’s St east to west were The Strand, treet>Regent Sttreet> and treet>Bond Sttreet>.
    Running south from Prince’s St east to west were treet>Buchanan Sttreet> (today it leads to the South African Memorial, the building in the centre of the wood), treet>Campbell Sttreet> and treet>King Sttreet>. The ride running east from treet>Buchanan Sttreet> was called Rotten Row.



    9th (Scottish) Division

    A company of 5th Bn, Cameron Highlanders and 2 companies of 4th Bn, South Africa Regt captured Waterlot Farm after repeated attacks. They were later driven back by heavy shelling.

    In Longueval at 8am, 12th Bn, Royal Scots began bombing up treet>North Streettreet> and advancing north through some orchards. They were driven back and another attack at 7.30 pm was equally unsuccessful.

    The South African Bde advanced into Delville Wood from the south western edge at 6.15am. The southern half was cleared at 8am and a fresh advance secured the rest of the wood.

    An attempt was made at consolidation in the face of heavy MG fire and German attacks. The South Africans were reinforced and another German attack fought off but the wood was bombarded through the night.

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    Sunday 16th July 1916. Day 16

    Ovillers

    Fighting was renewed in Ovillers at 1am. 74 Bde of the 25th Div attacked from the east, while 1/5th Warwickshire Regt which was attached to the division attacked from the north east. At the same time 144 Bde of 48th Div attacked from the south. By evening Ovillers was reported to have been captured. 145 Bde of 48th Div relieved 25th Div and consolidated the position at night.

    Bazentin Le Petit

    2nd Bn, the Welsh Regt resumed operations at 2am with another unsuccessful bombing attempt on the German support trench.Meanwhile 3Bde had attacked at midnight with 2nd Bn, Royal Munster Fusiliers and 1st Bn, Gloucestershire Regt attacking north east. Objectives were consolidated by dawn.

    Bazentin Le Grand

    91 Bde, having extricated itself from High Wood re-organised in Bazentin Le Grand.

    Delville Wood

    A trench Mortar barrage on Longueval was followed by the Royal Scots attacking in the village west of North St while 1st South African Regt attacked the west end of Prince’s St. Both attacks were driven back by MG fire and at 11pm the South Africans had to fight off a German attack.

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    Monday 17th July 1916. Day 17

    Ovillers

    144 Bde captured 300 yards of the German front line trench north of Ovillers.

    Pozieres

    12th Bn Durham Light Infantry attacked a trench south of the village with no success.

    Bazentin

    33rd Div relieved 21st Div in the line at Bazentin Le Petit while 7th and 3rd Divs moved east.

    Delville Wood

    At 2am, 27 Bde attacked north astride treet>North Sttreet>. The SA Bde attacked north from Prince’s St and west from the Strand. The attacks failed with heavy losses. The Germans bombarded Longueval and Delville Wood through the night with HE and gas.

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    Tuesday 18th July 1916. Day 18

    Pozieres

    2nd Bn Royal Munster Fusiliers captured the junction of Munster Alley and the old German support trench south of Pozieres but were soon driven back. The division to which the tate>Munsterstate> belonged (the 1st) established a line of strongpoints along Pozieres Ridge from Bazentin le Petit Wood.

    Delville Wood

    At 3.45am 1st Gordon Highlanders plus 2 companies of 8th King’s Own (76 Bde, 3rd Div) assaulted Longueval from the west. They made contact with the South Africans in the wood but were driven back by a German bombardment.

    At 3.30pm the Germans launched attacks on Delville Wood and Longueval from the east and north. The eastern attack, from the area north of the Ginchy road, was driven back by artillery and the machine guns of the South Africans in the south east corner of the wood. The northern attack drove the South African Bde back to the southern edge of the wood where it was halted by fire from Longueval. In the village itself the Germans drove 27 Bde back to the southern end of the village. A counterattack by 5th Cameron Highlanders regained the line of Clarges St.

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    Wednesday 19th July 1916. Day 19

    Delville Wood

    Fighting continued in Delville Wood all day. 53 Bde (18th Div) had been sent to reinforce 9th Div. 8th Norfolks attacked from south west of Longueval at 7am and occupied the southern part of Delville Wood. The 10th Essex, 6th Royal Berkshire Regt and 8th Suffolks were sent to the attack with little success.

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    Thursday 20th July 1916. Day 20

    Pozieres

    1st Div made two more attempts to capture Munster Alley south of Pozieres.

    High Wood

    Elements of 5th, 7th and 33rd Divs renewed attacks on High Wood.

    At 3.05am 7th Div sent two battalions, 8th Devons and 2nd Gordons crawling across No Man’s Land towards their first objective, a track known as The Black Road which ran south-west from the southern corner of High Wood towards Longueval. The track and the corner of the wood were captured at 3.25am and troops of the 5th Div moved up and continued the advance to the second objective treet>Wood Lanetreet>. The attack faltered in the teeth o heavy German fire and an attempt to dig in just 25 yards from treet>Wood Lanetreet> failed. By 5am the survivors were back at the treet>Black Roadtreet> where 13 Bde (5th div) relieved the 7th Div troops after dark.

    33rd Div also sent two battalions crawling across No Man’s Land at the same time. 1st Cameronians and 5/6th Scottish Rifles moved from Bazentin Le Petit Wood and forced their way into the west corner of High Wood. They came under fire from the Switch Line and 20th Royal Fusiliers was sent in support on the right flank, clearing the southern part of the wood.
    In the afternoon 2nd Bn, Royal Welsh Fusiliers moved through, reaching the northern edge of the wood with heavy losses. 1st Queen’s and 16th King’s Royal Rifle Corps reinforced but were driven back by a German bombardment and the enemy reoccupied the northern part of the wood.

    51st Div relieved the 33rd overnight.

    Delville Wood

    Early morning and 3rd Div continued the attack on Delville Wood with 2nd Suffolks and 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The Suffolks, advancing from the west at 3.30am, had it’s two leading companies wiped out. The Welsh got lost and stumbled into their own MG barrage, losing most of their officers. The attack failed.

    In the evening 76 Bde of the 3rd Div relieved the South African Bde in Delville Wood. Of the 3153 men who entered the wood five days before 778 marched out.

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