Wednesday 31 August 2016

Day Sixty Two on the Somme

Thursday 31st August 1916 From our Correspondent in the Field

Around 1 pm this afternoon there was a massive German attack on British positions in Delville Wood and Longeval. It was preceded by an intense artillery barrage and much activity by German aeroplanes. There has been hand-to-hand fighting with 7th Division and 24th Division east of the wood. The Germans also attacked British positions along the road from Ginchy to Longueval but seem to have been held. The Germans appear to have penetrated the northern outskirts of Longueval.

On a happier note, the new adjutant of 1st Bedfords, now in reserve at Billon Farm near Bray-sur-Somme, tells me that this morning General Horne, commander of XV Corps presented medals for gallantry at Longueval. Acting Company Sergeant Major Afford was given the Distiguished Conduct Medal whilst Lance Corporal Pettengell and Private J King received the Military Medal. The adjutant is now Major N W Lawder because Captain H Williams has been evacuated as sick(1)

Major Noel Lawder

As I write these lines another German attack seems to be developing, probably on the east side of Delville Wood where, so far, they have achieved little. There is considerable noise of artillery, including the dreaded “whizz-bangs”, and I seem to be able to hear rifle fire too.

Source: X550/2/5

(1) Major Noel Wilfred Lawder would be killed on 4th September. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. 

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