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Remembered Today:

1st Wiltshires July 4 1916

Peter Shand

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The 1st Wiltshires' war diary confirms that they relieved the 11/ Cheshires and 8/ Borders on July 4, 1916 at the Liepzig Salient. Does anyone know which trenches they defended against the German counter-attacks? Were they in the vicinity of Tyndrum Street, northeast of Authuille? I'm trying to find out where the 8/Borders made their futile attack of July 3rd.

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Thank you for the response. I went back and reread the 1st Wiltshires war diary and, yes, for July 4, 1916 it states:

Trenches in front of Leipzig Salient.

Battn line was D Coy extending to Thiepval Ave and relieving the 11th Cheshire Regt & 8th Borders. A Coy continued to consolidate the Leipzig Salient and extended their line to the right by 150yards erecting barricades.

I assume then that the 8th Borders were somewhat south of Thiepval Avenue and further north of where I previously estimated. Would you have any idea of the total frontage the 1st Wiltshires would have had after extending to the right, ie southwards?

Regards, Pete

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Sorry Pete, I tried looking into it a bit more but can't add to what you already know.

Except for this.


Monday 3rd July 1916

The day was spent resting. One stray shell caused 2 casualties in the Battn (16 in all of the other regiments). At 9p.m. the Battn moved via Black Horse Bridge to the fire line. D & C Coys to our old front line trenches. A Coy to Leipzig Salient 300 yards of trench previously captured from the Germans (on July 1st). B Coy were in support in Tobermory St and sent up 2 platoon to the help of A Coy. Battn HQ at Campbell post just off Campbell Ave CT. Enemy shelled heavily at midnight for about one and a half hours. Battn relieved in this position

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Not much I can add.

A couple of references that may be of interest.

Kincaid-Smith’s “The 25th Division in France and Flanders”

“During the night 3rd/4th July, the Division relieved the 32nd Division in the line, with the 7th Brigade on the right and the 75th Brigade on the left. The 74th Brigade at the same time moved from Warly to Bouzincourt. The next night, 4th/5th July, the 75th Brigade was withdrawn to Aveluy Wood, the 7th brigade extending its front to the north, in touch with the 12th and 49th Divisions on its right and left respectively.

K-S then goes on to describe the attack made by the Wilts in the evening of the 5th (covered in the war diary).

Alexander Johnston, Brigade Major, writes of the 3rd 4th July:

July 3rd

About 3AM our guns increased their rate of fire, and there was a terrific bombardment on our part pretty well all along the front till about 6AM when I believe the 49th Division and 75th Inf Brigade attacked THIEPVAL in conjunction with other attacks north and south - no news of how things are going on yet, and the bombardment chiefly on our part continues. Heard later that our attack had failed, and I am afraid we lost heavily as usual from machine guns which our artillery still seem unable to knock out. Were told that we would relieve the 32nd Division in the evening, so I went over with C.Os and company commanders to find out as much as possible and to have a hurried look at the line. Heard that our attack on THIEPVAL had failed with somewhat heavy losses, and from what one hears I am afraid the whole thing must have been badly mismanaged. Went over at dusk to some dark dugouts between AVELUY and AUTHUILLE. Had a bad start there as we had an unlucky shell just at the entrance of my dugout which knocked out about 25 men and 2 horses, many of them killed, who happened to be bunched together there for a moment, was untouched myself and was kept busy bandaging men up there being no dressing station near by. As the situation was not quite clear about the relief in the Leipsig [sic] Salient, just captured from the Germans, I went up to the 1st Wilts HQ to make sure everything was all right - a slow relief as there was a good deal of intermittent shelling, and it was a very dark night. Eventually returned to Brigade HQ about 4AM.

July 4th

Went up to the Leipsig Salient and had a look round the ex German trenches - very interesting, and as usual they seem to have put in a tremendous lot of work into them; the dugouts in particular being very deep and apparently immune from even the bombardment of the last few days. All the same our attack had been pretty successful in disposing of a good many Germans as there were piles of their corpses everywhere. Any amount of German material all over the place. Curious situation in the salient.

Allen Whitty, transport officer with 3rd Worcestershires noted in his diary:

3rd July, 1916.

Still in Aveluy Wood. Heavy fighting going on in front, but battalion not called on to take an active part. A chance shell in wood caused 10 casualties in the battalion. Attack on Thiepval failed again. Seems to be a tough proposition.

4th July, 1916.

Battalion moved from Aveluy Wood to Authuille. Wilts and South Lancs to the trenches. Ourselves and Cheshires in support. Rained in torrents all the day which made movement very difficult. It looks as if the 7th Bde. is to have a shot at taking Thiepval. It is said that failure to capture Thiepval is hanging up the general forward movement.

Good luck


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Thank you for responding, Owen D, and thank you Edwin for your information and your PM. Your information helps in getting a sense of what was going on and I will continue to look for the piece which will solve the puzzle.

Regards, Pete

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