Friday 29 July 2016

Day Twenty Nine on the Somme

Saturday 29th July 1916 From our Correspondent in the Field

In the ruins of Delville Wood there has been some smaller scale activity today than of late. We are given to understand that an advance of 500 yards has been made in the west of the wood and a smaller advance in the east. The 1st Bedfords have taken no part, their brigade having been withdrawn yesterday.

The main fighting today has been taking place to the north-west on the high ground around Pozières. An attack has been made by 2nd Australian Division and 23rd British Division. The attack was due to start just after midnight but an incessant German bombardment meant that the Australians were late in starting and when they did attack they were met by a wall of machine-gun fire, 5th Australian Brigade does not seem to have been able to leave its front line trenches whilst 7th Brigade found German barbed wire uncut. 6th Australian Brigade was able to make some slight progress, we believe. 23rd Division got bogged down in a bomb-lobbing contest with its German opponents.

A rumour is doing the rounds that the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Douglas Haig, is not happy with the performance of the Australians, telling their Corps commander, General Birdwood: “You’re not fighting Bashi-Bazouks(1) now” or words to that effect. Given that the Australians seem to resent any form of criticism at any time from High Command, such a rumour, whether true or not, will not do the effort in general any good.

(1) Turkish soldiers – a reference to the fighting at Gallipoli the previous year.

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