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6th SLI at Deville wood 18 august 1916


Guest rich hobbs

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Guest rich hobbs

Sergeant percy baker Hobbs of the 6th Somersets "D"coy was kIA on 18 aug 1916 fighting in Deville wood.

In reasearching this period, most of the 6th SLI casualties on that day were never found suggesting hurrendous fighting conditions

I can not find any info on the big Push on that day.

can anyone point me in the right direction for info on this day

Rich hobbs

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From British Battalions on the Somme,

"Moved forward to assembly positions south east corner of Delville Wood 3-00am and attacked at 2-45pm, assaulting companies in German trenches by 2-50pm. "A" company supported "D" taking Beer Trench, "C" on the left occupying Hop Alley, gains held against counter attacks and under heavy bombardment. Relieved at midnight and to Fricourt, casualties - 280."

Bob.

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Rich

Welcome to the Forum. Glad you took my advice and joined us.

Dave

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Peter Hart's Somme book (new) has a good Delville Wood section - well worth checking out. A quick Google also reveals some interesting sites with more info as well.

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Guest rich hobbs
Peter Hart's Somme book (new) has a good Delville Wood section - well worth checking out. A quick Google also reveals some interesting sites with more info as well.

Thanks for your help... I have bought the book

Rich

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Rich,

From Wyrall (The History of the Somerset Light Infantry 14-19)

"On the Morning of the 18th, at 3am, all four companies of the 6th Somersets moved up from Montauban to their assembly positions in the SE corner of Delville Wood, the two flank assaulting companies (A and C) occupying the forward trench and the centre assaulting company (D) the rear trench. B, the reserve company, was in rear of D company.

The 6th DCLI were on the left of the Somersets, who were in position by 6am. At that hour the preliminary bombardment opened with guns of all calibre pouring shell on to Beer Trench and Hop Alley. With the exception of two 'intense bombardments' with enemy guns firing rapid at 8.45am and 12.10pm the guns continued during the morning to shell the enemy's trenches, but so difficult was observation for the gunners that some of the 'heavies' fired short and 15 casualties were suffered by the Somersets 'from our own guns'.

No reply was made by the enemy to the bombardment which, a6t 2.45pm (zero hour), again became intense. At 2.35pm the two flank assaulting companies, A nad C, had 'closed up outwards' andthe centre company D came in between them. It was not possible to get all three companies in the front line earlier as the Northern end was very close to Hop Alley, then being heavilly shelled.

At zero hour the attacking troops advanced, and once in no man's land found themselves right under the barrage from 20 to 25 yards from the German trenches. Here the men halted waiting for the barrage to lift - a matter of five mintes. At 2.50pm the screen of fire moved on and almost immediately the Somerset men were in the German trenches, bayoneting or shooting down all those who refused to surrender.

A Company came up against two hostile machine guns mounted in a salient in the German line, though only one was in action. This was rushed and the gun team bombed. The battalion narative records that 'two good NCOs were killed doing this'. A German was seen trying to get a second machine gun into action, the remainder of the gun team having bolted; he was dealt with. There was little further resistance along the front of this company, for the enemy had been taken by surprise, and although his SOS rockets had been fired soon after the attack began, most of the captured Germans were found without equipment. Their resistance was futile in the extreme; the terrific bombardment to which they had been subjected had done its work and had spread demoralization amongst the enemy's troops, whos one idea was to surrender. Some of them in their mad desire to get away from their horrible trenches, literally ran over to the British lines, others bolted back towards Ginchy. Most of the latter were shot down. A party of about 30 to 40 made off towards Waterlot Farm, where they circled with their hands above their heads until they were eventually taken prisoner.

THe centre D company was able to follow close on the barrage, over Bitter Trench to Beer Trench. Only ten Germans were found in the former and these were either killed or forced to surrender. In Beer trench some 30 Germans suffered a similar fate. Two German officers, one of whom said in English, "You are too villanous for words," refused to surrender and were shot. Other Germans were seen crawling from shell hole to shell hole back towards Ginchy."

I now paraphrase.

Because of the severe damage to the objective trench from artillery fire 1 platoon was unable to locate it and rushed on towards Ginchy - but returned on realising their mistake.

C company took the initial trenches but had problems from 2 machineguns in a sap and German trench mortar fire. They rushed the trenches though killing 90 Germans and capturing a few. In this part of the line the Germans were fully equipped and ready.

A German counter attack developed at 6pm and again at 6.30pm. Both were driven off.

Another counter attack at 8pm was broken up by machine gun and artillery fire.

I hope this gives some idea of the battalion's actions that day.

The 6th SomLI were quite a vicious lot from my general reading. They seemed to take fewer prisoners that other SomLi battalions. I have also read a letter from a soldier in this attack indicating that the German machinegunners were not taken prisoner.

I think to get an idea of the horror of the battle, you have to look at the wider picture - ie that the wood had been heavilly fought over and was full of rotting bodies etc.

Regards,

Brendon.

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