Monday 4 July 2016

Day Four on the Somme

Tuesday 4th July 1916 From our Correspondent in the Field

It has been another busy day, if a very wet one, the fourth day of what we are now calling The Battle of the Somme. 18th Division, of which 7th Bedfords forms a part, occupied a small wood called Marlboro’ Wood, just north of Caterpillar Wood which was taken yesterday, unopposed. Just over the ridge to the north lies the village of Bazentin-le-Grand and its accompanying wood to the west, both, no doubt, full of Germans. The battalion itself is resting further south around Carnoy Wood. Total casualties for the battle so far have been calculated by the adjutant as 2 officers killed and 13 wounded; 79 other ranks killed, 212 wounded, 6 missing and another 9 who subsequently have died of their wounds – a total of 306 officers and men.

The 2nd Battalion continue to consolidate the division’s positions, again under considerable shellfire, which wounded a number of people including Lieutenant Leonard Dolman(1). This evening they hope to be relieved by the South African Brigade. This Battalion has also been totting up its casualties so far: 2nd Lieutenant W. E. Boulton was reported as suffering from shell shock on 1st July(2). Seven other ranks have been killed, eight are missing, five also have shell shock and two, though wounded, are still at duty; 56 have been wounded making a grand total of 78.

Lieutenant Dolman [X550/1/82] (left) and Second Lieutenant Boulton [X550/1/81] (right)

Elsewhere another attack was made on the hamlet of la Boisselle by 19th and 23rd Divisions. The attack was hampered by the flooded ground which has turned to a deep, sucking mud. The attack began at 8.30 and by 2.30 most of the village was in British hands, despite counter-attacks. 17th Division made a short advance north towards Contalmaison, much hampered by the weather and state of the ground and so an attack is prepared for the hours of darkness tonight.

Sources: X550/3/wd; X550/8/1

(1) He died on the last day of 1917, from wounds received in a trench raid by the Germans on 21st December, whilst serving with 8th Battalion, and is buried at Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension.
(2) Neurasthenia was the medical name given to this ailment. Today it would probably be labelled as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

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