Saturday 1 October 2016

Day Ninety Three on the Somme

Sunday 1st October 1916 From our Correspondent in the Field

After being relieved from the captured Thiepval position, the 7th Battalion has been resting in huts for the day in Mailly-Maillet Wood. The General Officer Commanding 54th Brigade, T H Shoubridge, visited the battalion and addressed them in very high terms of congratulation on their morale and stubborn fighting.

The Brigadier said: "The 7th Battalion, Bedfordshires are one of the best fighting battalions it is possible to find and I am very proud to have such a battalion under my command". The Brigadier particularly referred to the severe fighting and the daring manner the Battalion had snatched from the enemy a position they boasted of being "impregnable and impossible for the English to take".

Today has been another day of vigorous attacks on the Somme. Moving from left to right across the battlefield – the Canadians captured a portion of Regina Trench lying north-west of the village of Courcelette this afternoon but have yet to succeed in holding it as counter-attacks are expected. 

On their left 23rd Division attacked and took ground. Private George White from Aspley Guise, who is known to your correspondent, told him that his unit, 8th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry together with 11th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters took all their allotted length of Flers Trench and most of Flers Support Trench. Other units from the division were unable to enter le Sars, however.

An attack by 50th (Northumbrian) Division took some of its allotted part of Flers Trench. 47th (2nd London) Division attacked the hamlet and abbey buildings of Eaucourt-l’Abbaye and, with the help of two tanks (later destroyed), they seized it. However, 1st/7th Battalion, London Regiment failed to advance very far due to uncut wire, allowing the Germans to retake Eaucourt.

The New Zealanders also went forward and gained ground. This attack was assisted by 36 Livens Projectors which created a wall of blazing fire on the German positions, though did not succeed in neutralising the enemy machine guns which did a lot of damage. Nevertheless the New Zealanders, once again, performed splendidly, taking around 250 prisoners and sections of Gird Trench, for the loss of about 850 of their men killed and wounded.

Source: X550/8/1

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