Friday 7 October 2016

Day Ninety Nine on the Somme

Saturday 7th October 1916 From our Correspondent in the Field

Today has seen more activity on the Somme than of late, with attacks in the vicinity of Le Sars, a village which sits astride the main road from Albert to Bapaume, in an arc round to Lesboeufs. 

23rd Division was tasked with the capture of the village of Le Sars. In the face of heavy fire they achieved their objective, so the village joins a growing list of heaps of ruins captured since 1st July. The Division was then ready to advance on an old Romano-Gallic burial mound called the Butte de Warlencourt, which is high enough to dominate the flat ground hereabouts. However, there were insufficient reinforcements for this, so the division dug-in just the other side of Le Sars.

47th Division, whose objective was also the Butte de Warlencourt, attacked Snag Trench but the volume of fire it encountered made any real progress impossible.

41st Division is between Eaucourt-l’Abbaye and Gueudecourt and encountered heavy machine-gun fire as it went forward. Some units managed to pierce Bayonet Trench and, as far as we know, are holding out. Those attacking the east end of Gird Trench were unable to get near it.

12th (Eastern) Division were supposed to attack north-east from Gueudecourt but were late in going forward due to a German barrage on their front lines as they were about to go “over the top”. They struggled forward but were unable to make any headway.

20th (Light) Division are between Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs. They seized a main German defensive line called Rainbow Trench and pressed on to take another trench called Misty Trench. A German counter-attack as the light failed this evening from the direction of Beaulencourt appears to have been defeated.

56th (London) Division, alongside the French on their right flank, attacked north-east from Lesboeufs. Attacks by both the Londoners and the French were able to make little headway and, as evening fell were pushed back to their starting positions.

The last units of 18th (Eastern) Division have been relieved in the unspeakable desolation of mud, bodies and debris known as the Schwaben Redoubt. The dubious honour of continuing the fight here will fall to 39th Division. They were immediately attacked by Germans including two flame-thrower teams but the enemy were repulsed.

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