Page 158 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME, I9I6
I3 I
as has been mentioned, lasted officially from Ist July to I8th
November, I9I6. Not all were in action on the same day. Five
were engaged in the fighting on the opening day: three in one
brigade, a fourth in another division some distance away, and the
fifth in yet another division alongside the fourth. A sixth battalion
entered the lists on 4th July, in quite a different part of the line,
before some of those mentioned had completed their share of the
initial action. Others appeared or reappeared later. One is
reminded of a choral work on a large scale, in which parts enter at
different bars, overlap each other, and have their sections of rest
while others continue to be heard, and in which the counterpoint
is at times of the loosest description.
Since, however, a narrative of this kind cannot be written as
a musical score, some other means of presentation had to be found.
The report of the Battles Nomenclature Committee divided the
whole of the Battle of the Somme into a series of what may be
called sub-battles---the Battle of Albert, I9I6, lasting from Ist to
I3th July; the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, from I4th to I7th July;
and so on.
It
appeared best, therefore, to treat the Battle of the
Somme rather as a drama, the sub-battles as its acts, and the doings
of the various battalions as the scenes. When more than one
battalion has been involved on the same day, the story begins with
that on the right (in orthodox "Field Service Regulations" style)
and works thence to the left.
All incidents which do not come ,vithin the limits of time or place
laid down for the battle honours of the sub-battles qualified the
battalions concerned for the comprehensive battle honour "Somme,
I9I6," which is borne on the COlOUTS. Those episodes which, though
occurring before I8th November, I9I6, fall outside the limits of time
and place prescribed for "Somme, I9I6" as a whole , have been
reserved for Chapter XI.
THE BATTLE OF ALBERT, I9I6
IST TO I3TH JULY
.. ALBE RT, 1916 "
1st, 2nd, 10th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th and 20th Battalions
The Attack on Thiepval,
Ist
July
15th, 16th and 19th Battalions
One of the keys to the high ground which was the Fourth Army's
Y-TH
objective on ISt July was the village of Thiepval and the ridge
1 6T~ A~D
running south-south-west from it. The Germans had turned the
~TH
village itself into a small fortress, and the toe of the ridge was
)IS.
protected by a series of carefully prepared trenches, by means of
which small areas could be given up without the whole ridge having
to be evacuated. At the point was a formidable defensive work