Letters from James Murtagh, item 7

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Left page

Sir Douglas Haig's conduct of the battle caused - and still causes - great controversy. Critics argued that his inflexible approach merely repeated flawed tactics; others argue that Haig's hand was forced in that the Somme offensive was necessary in order to relieve the French at Verdun.


The 10th Royal Fusiliers' role in the battle (extract from Ray Westlake's 'British Battalions on the Somme')...


10th (Service) Battalion. 111th Brigade, 37th Division: From Arras sector reached Bresle (6/7). To front line near La Boisselle (8/7), Sausage Valley (9/7). Advanced to Contalmaison Road at La Boisselle and attack launched on Pozières (15/7) - fought way through to the Orchard south-west of village. To Tara-Usna Hill (16/7), Bresle (20/7), Albert via Hénencourt (30/7), Mametz Wood (31/7), trenches west of Mametz Wood (1/8), support line Bazentin-le-Petit (3/8), Windmill line (4/8), High Wood (6/8), Mametz Wood (8/8), Belle Vue Farm via Lozenge Wood (15/8), Bresle (16/8), Allery (18/8). Transferred to Béthune sector (19/8). Arrived Puchevillers (22/10). To Hem-Hardinval (30/10), Varennes via Puchevillers (12/11), Englebelmer (13/11) - moved forward through Hamel to positions in the original British front line. For period (14/11)-(16/11) War Diary gives location as 'redoubt.' Attacked Munich and Frankfort Trenches and Leave Avenue (16/11), later in day occupying Muck Trench. Attacked The Triangle (17/11). Relieved and to Englebelmer.

----------------------------------

After sailing into Boulogne in early October, James and his draft were, prior to joining their unit, sent to complete their training at one of the huge Base Depots near the coast. In James' case, this was almost certainly to have been the depot at Etaples - home of the infamous 'bull ring.' Here (most likely housed in bell tents), the skills acquired in the UK were honed for a couple of weeks until the soldiers were deemed ready for front-line service.


 Photograph of many soldiers training in an open area 

 Caption: 

Bayonet training on the 'Bull Ring," Etaples


By 14th October, James' draft was considered 'trained' and was therefore sent to join the main battalion which, at that time was at Bully-Grenay near Bethune. Three drafts of 115 men arrived at Bully between the 14th and 16th October, James being in one of these. Almost as soon as the final draft had arrived, the whole battalion set off on the march southwards - back to the Somme battlefields.


 Right page 


Arriving in the Somme area (Puchevillers) on 22nd October, the remainder of the month and the beginning of November was spent in further training and recreational activities (usually in horrendous conditions due to the weather...the war diary describing their camp as 'a morass') in the rear areas. Activities planned for the 10th November (a battalion rugby match) were cancelled as notification came through that this was to be 'W' Day for the coming attack which was to be the final act of the infamous Battle of the Somme. (The day of an assault, in British army phraseology of the time, was termed 'Z' day, and so the preceding (preparation) days were termed 'W', 'X', and 'Y').


After gradually moving towards the front, James' battalion, on the 12th November was at Varennes where they were warned to be ready to move forwards at short notice any time after 7am on the 13th (the battle was to commence at 5:45am with James' Division being in reserve). James was about to partake in his first (and last) action...


The Battle of the Ancre 13th - 18th November 1916 - an overview


This battle was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army (formerly the Reserve Army) of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.


Prelude

The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15 November and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wanted to be able to report favourable progress to his French counterparts.

Gough planned an attack on either side of the Ancre River, a small tributary of the Somme River which flowed through the northern sector of the battlefield. South of the Ancre was the village of Thiepval, which had been recently captured by the British during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and St Pierre Divion, which was still in German hands. North of the Ancre were the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre; this sector has not seen major operations since the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July.


The Battle

By November the British had learned many lessons about planning, preparing and executing an attack in trench warfare. Supported by artillery, a machine gun barrage and (rather fitfully) by tanks, the 51st (Highland) Division stormed across the heavily-defended Y Ravine and captured the village of Beaumont Hamel. Meanwhile, on their left, the 2nd Division advanced along Redan Ridge. On the right, attacking across the low ground between Beaumont Hamel and the river, the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division reached the village of Beaucourt on the first day and secured it on the next. During this engagement, Lieutenant Commander Bernard Freyberg, who would later become Governor-General of New Zealand, won the Victoria Cross despite being wounded three times. To their north, efforts were less successful; here the 3rd Division and the 31st Division were expected to form a defensive flank and take the village of Serre but their attack failed. For the 31st Division it was déjà vu - they tried to advance across the same ground as on the first day on the Somme, with the same negative result. South of the Ancre, however, II Corps took its objectives with relative ease.


At this point, the Battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British, and C-in-C Haig was satisfied with the result. However, V Army commander Gough was - as ever - keen to continue further, a characteristic of his command that was loathed by the men who had to serve under him. On 18 November, II Corps was ordered to drive north towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful.


On the right (westernmost) flank of the attack of 18 November, the 4th Canadian Division as an element of the British II Corps were tasked with taking Desire Trench and Desire Support Trench which ran roughly parallel to the river, south of Grandcourt. The thrust of the attack on Desire Support was manned by a comopany of men from the 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion and two more from the 50th (Calgary) Battalion who were met with heavy machine gun fire and only took a small section of Desire Support before being repulsed. A second thrust from 11th brigade with two companies each from the 38th (Ottawa), 54th (Kootenay), 75th (Mississauga), and 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) battalions attacked, captured, held and consolidated sections of Desire and sent patrols forward to Grandcourt Trench.


Aftermath


When Gough called off the Battle of the Ancre, the Battle of the Somme had effectively ceased. In the southern sector, the British Fourth Army had finished operations on 16 November and on the French sector the final action took place on 14-15 November in St Pierre Vaast Wood. Both sides now settled down to endure winter on the Somme in which the weather was a common enemy.

Transcription saved

Left page

Sir Douglas Haig's conduct of the battle caused - and still causes - great controversy. Critics argued that his inflexible approach merely repeated flawed tactics; others argue that Haig's hand was forced in that the Somme offensive was necessary in order to relieve the French at Verdun.


The 10th Royal Fusiliers' role in the battle (extract from Ray Westlake's 'British Battalions on the Somme')...


10th (Service) Battalion. 111th Brigade, 37th Division: From Arras sector reached Bresle (6/7). To front line near La Boisselle (8/7), Sausage Valley (9/7). Advanced to Contalmaison Road at La Boisselle and attack launched on Pozières (15/7) - fought way through to the Orchard south-west of village. To Tara-Usna Hill (16/7), Bresle (20/7), Albert via Hénencourt (30/7), Mametz Wood (31/7), trenches west of Mametz Wood (1/8), support line Bazentin-le-Petit (3/8), Windmill line (4/8), High Wood (6/8), Mametz Wood (8/8), Belle Vue Farm via Lozenge Wood (15/8), Bresle (16/8), Allery (18/8). Transferred to Béthune sector (19/8). Arrived Puchevillers (22/10). To Hem-Hardinval (30/10), Varennes via Puchevillers (12/11), Englebelmer (13/11) - moved forward through Hamel to positions in the original British front line. For period (14/11)-(16/11) War Diary gives location as 'redoubt.' Attacked Munich and Frankfort Trenches and Leave Avenue (16/11), later in day occupying Muck Trench. Attacked The Triangle (17/11). Relieved and to Englebelmer.

----------------------------------

After sailing into Boulogne in early October, James and his draft were, prior to joining their unit, sent to complete their training at one of the huge Base Depots near the coast. In James' case, this was almost certainly to have been the depot at Etaples - home of the infamous 'bull ring.' Here (most likely housed in bell tents), the skills acquired in the UK were honed for a couple of weeks until the soldiers were deemed ready for front-line service.


 Photograph of many soldiers training in an open area 

 Caption: 

Bayonet training on the 'Bull Ring," Etaples


By 14th October, James' draft was considered 'trained' and was therefore sent to join the main battalion which, at that time was at Bully-Grenay near Bethune. Three drafts of 115 men arrived at Bully between the 14th and 16th October, James being in one of these. Almost as soon as the final draft had arrived, the whole battalion set off on the march southwards - back to the Somme battlefields.


 Right page 


Arriving in the Somme area (Puchevillers) on 22nd October, the remainder of the month and the beginning of November was spent in further training and recreational activities (usually in horrendous conditions due to the weather...the war diary describing their camp as 'a morass') in the rear areas. Activities planned for the 10th November (a battalion rugby match) were cancelled as notification came through that this was to be 'W' Day for the coming attack which was to be the final act of the infamous Battle of the Somme. (The day of an assault, in British army phraseology of the time, was termed 'Z' day, and so the preceding (preparation) days were termed 'W', 'X', and 'Y').


After gradually moving towards the front, James' battalion, on the 12th November was at Varennes where they were warned to be ready to move forwards at short notice any time after 7am on the 13th (the battle was to commence at 5:45am with James' Division being in reserve). James was about to partake in his first (and last) action...


The Battle of the Ancre 13th - 18th November 1916 - an overview


This battle was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army (formerly the Reserve Army) of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.


Prelude

The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15 November and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wanted to be able to report favourable progress to his French counterparts.

Gough planned an attack on either side of the Ancre River, a small tributary of the Somme River which flowed through the northern sector of the battlefield. South of the Ancre was the village of Thiepval, which had been recently captured by the British during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and St Pierre Divion, which was still in German hands. North of the Ancre were the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre; this sector has not seen major operations since the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July.


The Battle

By November the British had learned many lessons about planning, preparing and executing an attack in trench warfare. Supported by artillery, a machine gun barrage and (rather fitfully) by tanks, the 51st (Highland) Division stormed across the heavily-defended Y Ravine and captured the village of Beaumont Hamel. Meanwhile, on their left, the 2nd Division advanced along Redan Ridge. On the right, attacking across the low ground between Beaumont Hamel and the river, the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division reached the village of Beaucourt on the first day and secured it on the next. During this engagement, Lieutenant Commander Bernard Freyberg, who would later become Governor-General of New Zealand, won the Victoria Cross despite being wounded three times. To their north, efforts were less successful; here the 3rd Division and the 31st Division were expected to form a defensive flank and take the village of Serre but their attack failed. For the 31st Division it was déjà vu - they tried to advance across the same ground as on the first day on the Somme, with the same negative result. South of the Ancre, however, II Corps took its objectives with relative ease.


At this point, the Battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British, and C-in-C Haig was satisfied with the result. However, V Army commander Gough was - as ever - keen to continue further, a characteristic of his command that was loathed by the men who had to serve under him. On 18 November, II Corps was ordered to drive north towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful.


On the right (westernmost) flank of the attack of 18 November, the 4th Canadian Division as an element of the British II Corps were tasked with taking Desire Trench and Desire Support Trench which ran roughly parallel to the river, south of Grandcourt. The thrust of the attack on Desire Support was manned by a comopany of men from the 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion and two more from the 50th (Calgary) Battalion who were met with heavy machine gun fire and only took a small section of Desire Support before being repulsed. A second thrust from 11th brigade with two companies each from the 38th (Ottawa), 54th (Kootenay), 75th (Mississauga), and 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) battalions attacked, captured, held and consolidated sections of Desire and sent patrols forward to Grandcourt Trench.


Aftermath


When Gough called off the Battle of the Ancre, the Battle of the Somme had effectively ceased. In the southern sector, the British Fourth Army had finished operations on 16 November and on the French sector the final action took place on 14-15 November in St Pierre Vaast Wood. Both sides now settled down to endure winter on the Somme in which the weather was a common enemy.


Transcription history
  • November 2, 2017 15:05:32 Thomas A. Lingner

    Left page

    Sir Douglas Haig's conduct of the battle caused - and still causes - great controversy. Critics argued that his inflexible approach merely repeated flawed tactics; others argue that Haig's hand was forced in that the Somme offensive was necessary in order to relieve the French at Verdun.


    The 10th Royal Fusiliers' role in the battle (extract from Ray Westlake's 'British Battalions on the Somme')...


    10th (Service) Battalion. 111th Brigade, 37th Division: From Arras sector reached Bresle (6/7). To front line near La Boisselle (8/7), Sausage Valley (9/7). Advanced to Contalmaison Road at La Boisselle and attack launched on Pozières (15/7) - fought way through to the Orchard south-west of village. To Tara-Usna Hill (16/7), Bresle (20/7), Albert via Hénencourt (30/7), Mametz Wood (31/7), trenches west of Mametz Wood (1/8), support line Bazentin-le-Petit (3/8), Windmill line (4/8), High Wood (6/8), Mametz Wood (8/8), Belle Vue Farm via Lozenge Wood (15/8), Bresle (16/8), Allery (18/8). Transferred to Béthune sector (19/8). Arrived Puchevillers (22/10). To Hem-Hardinval (30/10), Varennes via Puchevillers (12/11), Englebelmer (13/11) - moved forward through Hamel to positions in the original British front line. For period (14/11)-(16/11) War Diary gives location as 'redoubt.' Attacked Munich and Frankfort Trenches and Leave Avenue (16/11), later in day occupying Muck Trench. Attacked The Triangle (17/11). Relieved and to Englebelmer.

    ----------------------------------

    After sailing into Boulogne in early October, James and his draft were, prior to joining their unit, sent to complete their training at one of the huge Base Depots near the coast. In James' case, this was almost certainly to have been the depot at Etaples - home of the infamous 'bull ring.' Here (most likely housed in bell tents), the skills acquired in the UK were honed for a couple of weeks until the soldiers were deemed ready for front-line service.


     Photograph of many soldiers training in an open area 

     Caption: 

    Bayonet training on the 'Bull Ring," Etaples


    By 14th October, James' draft was considered 'trained' and was therefore sent to join the main battalion which, at that time was at Bully-Grenay near Bethune. Three drafts of 115 men arrived at Bully between the 14th and 16th October, James being in one of these. Almost as soon as the final draft had arrived, the whole battalion set off on the march southwards - back to the Somme battlefields.


     Right page 


    Arriving in the Somme area (Puchevillers) on 22nd October, the remainder of the month and the beginning of November was spent in further training and recreational activities (usually in horrendous conditions due to the weather...the war diary describing their camp as 'a morass') in the rear areas. Activities planned for the 10th November (a battalion rugby match) were cancelled as notification came through that this was to be 'W' Day for the coming attack which was to be the final act of the infamous Battle of the Somme. (The day of an assault, in British army phraseology of the time, was termed 'Z' day, and so the preceding (preparation) days were termed 'W', 'X', and 'Y').


    After gradually moving towards the front, James' battalion, on the 12th November was at Varennes where they were warned to be ready to move forwards at short notice any time after 7am on the 13th (the battle was to commence at 5:45am with James' Division being in reserve). James was about to partake in his first (and last) action...


    The Battle of the Ancre 13th - 18th November 1916 - an overview


    This battle was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army (formerly the Reserve Army) of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.


    Prelude

    The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15 November and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wanted to be able to report favourable progress to his French counterparts.

    Gough planned an attack on either side of the Ancre River, a small tributary of the Somme River which flowed through the northern sector of the battlefield. South of the Ancre was the village of Thiepval, which had been recently captured by the British during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and St Pierre Divion, which was still in German hands. North of the Ancre were the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre; this sector has not seen major operations since the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July.


    The Battle

    By November the British had learned many lessons about planning, preparing and executing an attack in trench warfare. Supported by artillery, a machine gun barrage and (rather fitfully) by tanks, the 51st (Highland) Division stormed across the heavily-defended Y Ravine and captured the village of Beaumont Hamel. Meanwhile, on their left, the 2nd Division advanced along Redan Ridge. On the right, attacking across the low ground between Beaumont Hamel and the river, the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division reached the village of Beaucourt on the first day and secured it on the next. During this engagement, Lieutenant Commander Bernard Freyberg, who would later become Governor-General of New Zealand, won the Victoria Cross despite being wounded three times. To their north, efforts were less successful; here the 3rd Division and the 31st Division were expected to form a defensive flank and take the village of Serre but their attack failed. For the 31st Division it was déjà vu - they tried to advance across the same ground as on the first day on the Somme, with the same negative result. South of the Ancre, however, II Corps took its objectives with relative ease.


    At this point, the Battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British, and C-in-C Haig was satisfied with the result. However, V Army commander Gough was - as ever - keen to continue further, a characteristic of his command that was loathed by the men who had to serve under him. On 18 November, II Corps was ordered to drive north towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful.


    On the right (westernmost) flank of the attack of 18 November, the 4th Canadian Division as an element of the British II Corps were tasked with taking Desire Trench and Desire Support Trench which ran roughly parallel to the river, south of Grandcourt. The thrust of the attack on Desire Support was manned by a comopany of men from the 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion and two more from the 50th (Calgary) Battalion who were met with heavy machine gun fire and only took a small section of Desire Support before being repulsed. A second thrust from 11th brigade with two companies each from the 38th (Ottawa), 54th (Kootenay), 75th (Mississauga), and 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) battalions attacked, captured, held and consolidated sections of Desire and sent patrols forward to Grandcourt Trench.


    Aftermath


    When Gough called off the Battle of the Ancre, the Battle of the Somme had effectively ceased. In the southern sector, the British Fourth Army had finished operations on 16 November and on the French sector the final action took place on 14-15 November in St Pierre Vaast Wood. Both sides now settled down to endure winter on the Somme in which the weather was a common enemy.

  • November 2, 2017 15:01:47 Thomas A. Lingner

    Left page

    Sir Douglas Haig's conduct of the battle caused - and still causes - great controversy. Critics argued that his inflexible approach merely repeated flawed tactics; others argue that Haig's hand was forced in that the Somme offensive was necessary in order to relieve the French at Verdun.


    The 10th Royal Fusiliers' role in the battle (extract from Ray Westlake's 'British Battalions on the Somme')...


    10th (Service) Battalion. 111th Brigade, 37th Division: From Arras sector reached Bresle (6/7). To front line near La Boisselle (8/7), Sausage Valley (9/7). Advanced to Contalmaison Road at La Boisselle and attack launched on Pozières (15/7) - fought way through to the Orchard south-west of village. To Tara-Usna Hill (16/7), Bresle (20/7), Albert via Hénencourt (30/7), Mametz Wood (31/7), trenches west of Mametz Wood (1/8), support line Bazentin-le-Petit (3/8), Windmill line (4/8), High Wood (6/8), Mametz Wood (8/8), Belle Vue Farm via Lozenge Wood (15/8), Bresle (16/8), Allery (18/8). Transferred to Béthune sector (19/8). Arrived Puchevillers (22/10). To Hem-Hardinval (30/10), Varennes via Puchevillers (12/11), Englebelmer (13/11) - moved forward through Hamel to positions in the original British front line. For period (14/11)-(16/11) War Diary gives location as 'redoubt.' Attacked Munich and Frankfort Trenches and Leave Avenue (16/11), later in day occupying Muck Trench. Attacked The Triangle (17/11). Relieved and to Englebelmer.

    ----------------------------------

    After sailing into Boulogne in early October, James and his draft were, prior to joining their unit, sent to complete their training at one of the huge Base Depots near the coast. In James' case, this was almost certainly to have been the depot at Etaples - home of the infamous 'bull ring.' Here (most likely housed in bell tents), the skills acquired in the UK were honed for a couple of weeks until the soldiers were deemed ready for front-line service.


     Photograph of many soldiers training in an open area 

     Caption: 

    Bayonet training on the 'Bull Ring," Etaples


    By 14th October, James' draft was considered 'trained' and was therefore sent to join the main battalion which, at that time was at Bully-Grenay near Bethune. Three drafts of 115 men arrived at Bully between the 14th and 16th October, James being in one of these. Almost as soon as the final draft had arrived, the whole battalion set off on the march southwards - back to the Somme battlefields.


     Right page 


    Arriving in the Somme area (Puchevillers) on 22nd October, the remainder of the month and the beginning of November was spent in further training and recreational activities (usually in horrendous conditions due to the weather...the war diary describing their camp as 'a morass') in the rear areas. Activities planned for the 10th November (a battalion rugby match) were cancelled as notification came through that this was to be 'W' Day for the coming attack which was to be the final act of the infamous Battle of the Somme. (The day of an assault, in British army phraseology of the time, was termed 'Z' day, and so the preceding (preparation) days were termed 'W', 'X', and 'Y').


    After gradually moving towards the front, James' battalion, on the 12th November was at Varennes where they were warned to be ready to move forwards at short notice any time after 7am on the 13th (the battle was to commence at 5:45am with James' Division being in reserve). James was about to partake in his first (and last) action...


    The Battle of the Ancre 13th - 18th November 1916 - an overview


    This battle was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army (formerly the Reserve Army) of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.


    Prelude

    The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15 November and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wanted to be able to report favourable progress to his French counterparts.

    Gough planned an attack on either side of the Ancre River, a small tributary of the Somme River which flowed through the northern sector of the battlefield. South of the Ancre was the village of Thiepval, which had been recently captured by the British during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and St Pierre Divion, which was still in German hands. North of the Ancre were the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre; this sector has not seen major operations since the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July.


    The Battle

    By November the British had learned many lessons about planning, preparing and executing an attack in trench warfare. Supported by artillery, a machine gun barrage and (rather fitfully) by tanks, the 51st (Highland) Division stormed across the heavily-defended Y Ravine and captured the village of Beaumont Hamel. Meanwhile, on their left, the 2nd Division advanced along Redan Ridge. On the right, attacking across the low ground between Beaumont Hamel and the river, the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division reached the village of Beaucourt on the first day and secured it on the next. During this engagement, Lieutenant Commander Bernard Freyberg, who would later become Governor-General of New Zealand, won the Victoria Cross despite being wounded three times. To their north, efforts were less successful; here the 3rd Division and the 31st Division were expected to form a defensive flank and take the village of Serre but their attack failed. For the 31st Division it was déjà vu - they tried to advance across the same ground as on the first day on the Somme, with the same negative result. South of the Ancre, however, II Corps took its objectives with relative ease.


    At this point, the Battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British, and C-in-C Haig was satisfied with the result. However, V Army commander Gough was - as ever - keen to continue further, a characteristic of his command that was loathed by the men who had to serve under him. On 18 November, II Corps was ordered to drive north towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful.


    On the right (westernmost) flank of the attack of 18 November, the 4th Canadian Division as an element of the British II Corps were tasked with taking Desire Trench and Desire Support Trench which ran roughly parallel to the river, south of Grandcourt. The thrust of the attack on Desire Support was manned by a comopany of men from the 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion and two more from the 50th (Calgary) Battalion who were met with heavy machine gun fire and only took a small section of Desire Support before being repulsed. A second thrust from 11th brigade with two companies each from the 38th (Ottawa), 54th (Kootenay), 75th (Mississauga), and 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) battalions attacked, captured, held and consolidated sections of Desire and sent patrols forward to Grandcourt Trench.




  • November 2, 2017 14:50:54 Thomas A. Lingner

    Left page

    Sir Douglas Haig's conduct of the battle caused - and still causes - great controversy. Critics argued that his inflexible approach merely repeated flawed tactics; others argue that Haig's hand was forced in that the Somme offensive was necessary in order to relieve the French at Verdun.


    The 10th Royal Fusiliers' role in the battle (extract from Ray Westlake's 'British Battalions on the Somme')...


    10th (Service) Battalion. 111th Brigade, 37th Division: From Arras sector reached Bresle (6/7). To front line near La Boisselle (8/7), Sausage Valley (9/7). Advanced to Contalmaison Road at La Boisselle and attack launched on Pozières (15/7) - fought way through to the Orchard south-west of village. To Tara-Usna Hill (16/7), Bresle (20/7), Albert via Hénencourt (30/7), Mametz Wood (31/7), trenches west of Mametz Wood (1/8), support line Bazentin-le-Petit (3/8), Windmill line (4/8), High Wood (6/8), Mametz Wood (8/8), Belle Vue Farm via Lozenge Wood (15/8), Bresle (16/8), Allery (18/8). Transferred to Béthune sector (19/8). Arrived Puchevillers (22/10). To Hem-Hardinval (30/10), Varennes via Puchevillers (12/11), Englebelmer (13/11) - moved forward through Hamel to positions in the original British front line. For period (14/11)-(16/11) War Diary gives location as 'redoubt.' Attacked Munich and Frankfort Trenches and Leave Avenue (16/11), later in day occupying Muck Trench. Attacked The Triangle (17/11). Relieved and to Englebelmer.

    ----------------------------------

    After sailing into Boulogne in early October, James and his draft were, prior to joining their unit, sent to complete their training at one of the huge Base Depots near the coast. In James' case, this was almost certainly to have been the depot at Etaples - home of the infamous 'bull ring.' Here (most likely housed in bell tents), the skills acquired in the UK were honed for a couple of weeks until the soldiers were deemed ready for front-line service.


     Photograph of many soldiers training in an open area 

     Caption: 

    Bayonet training on the 'Bull Ring," Etaples


    By 14th October, James' draft was considered 'trained' and was therefore sent to join the main battalion which, at that time was at Bully-Grenay near Bethune. Three drafts of 115 men arrived at Bully between the 14th and 16th October, James being in one of these. Almost as soon as the final draft had arrived, the whole battalion set off on the march southwards - back to the Somme battlefields.


     Right page 


    Arriving in the Somme area (Puchevillers) on 22nd October, the remainder of the month and the beginning of November was spent in further training and recreational activities (usually in horrendous conditions due to the weather...the war diary describing their camp as 'a morass') in the rear areas. Activities planned for the 10th November (a battalion rugby match) were cancelled as notification came through that this was to be 'W' Day for the coming attack which was to be the final act of the infamous Battle of the Somme. (The day of an assault, in British army phraseology of the time, was termed 'Z' day, and so the preceding (preparation) days were termed 'W', 'X', and 'Y').


    After gradually moving towards the front, James' battalion, on the 12th November was at Varennes where they were warned to be ready to move forwards at short notice any time after 7am on the 13th (the battle was to commence at 5:45am with James' Division being in reserve). James was about to partake in his first (and last) action...


    The Battle of the Ancre 13th - 18th November 1916 - an overview


    This battle was the final act of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Launched on 13 November 1916 by the British Fifth Army (formerly the Reserve Army) of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, the objective of the battle was as much political as military.


    Prelude

    The Allied commanders were due to meet at Chantilly on 15 November and the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wanted to be able to report favourable progress to his French counterparts.

    Gough planned an attack on either side of the Ancre River, a small tributary of the Somme River which flowed through the northern sector of the battlefield. South of the Ancre was the village of Thiepval, which had been recently captured by the British during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, and St Pierre Divion, which was still in German hands. North of the Ancre were the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre; this sector has not seen major operations since the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July.


    The Battle

    


  • November 2, 2017 14:41:00 Thomas A. Lingner

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    Sir Douglas Haig's conduct of the battle caused - and still causes - great controversy. Critics argued that his inflexible approach merely repeated flawed tactics; others argue that Haig's hand was forced in that the Somme offensive was necessary in order to relieve the French at Verdun.


    The 10th Royal Fusiliers' role in the battle (extract from Ray Westlake's 'British Battalions on the Somme')...


    10th (Service) Battalion. 111th Brigade, 37th Division: From Arras sector reached Bresle (6/7). To front line near La Boisselle (8/7), Sausage Valley (9/7). Advanced to Contalmaison Road at La Boisselle and attack launched on Pozières (15/7) - fought way through to the Orchard south-west of village. To Tara-Usna Hill (16/7), Bresle (20/7), Albert via Hénencourt (30/7), Mametz Wood (31/7), trenches west of Mametz Wood (1/8), support line Bazentin-le-Petit (3/8), Windmill line (4/8), High Wood (6/8), Mametz Wood (8/8), Belle Vue Farm via Lozenge Wood (15/8), Bresle (16/8), Allery (18/8). Transferred to Béthune sector (19/8). Arrived Puchevillers (22/10). To Hem-Hardinval (30/10), Varennes via Puchevillers (12/11), Englebelmer (13/11) - moved forward through Hamel to positions in the original British front line. For period (14/11)-(16/11) War Diary gives location as 'redoubt.' Attacked Munich and Frankfort Trenches and Leave Avenue (16/11), later in day occupying Muck Trench. Attacked The Triangle (17/11). Relieved and to Englebelmer.

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    After sailing into Boulogne in early October, James and his draft were, prior to joining their unit, sent to complete their training at one of the huge Base Depots near the coast. In James' case, this was almost certainly to have been the depot at Etaples - home of the infamous 'bull ring.' Here (most likely housed in bell tents), the skills acquired in the UK were honed for a couple of weeks until the soldiers were deemed ready for front-line service.


     Photograph of many soldiers training in an open area 

     Caption: 

    Bayonet training on the 'Bull Ring," Etaples


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    ID
    3798 / 46803
    Source
    http://europeana1914-1918.eu/...
    Contributor
    Maine Delaney
    License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/


    • English

    • Western Front

    • Battle of the Somme



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