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Lead up to the Somme


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Hope this is of interest - I thought i'd copy the war diary of the 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment in the lead up to their first battle on the Somme in July 1916, day by day (although for Saturday and Sunday i'll have to do those on Sunday night or Monday morning). At this time, the 7th Battalion was part of the 110th Brigade comprised of the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Battalions Leicestershire Regiment, and still in the 37th Division.


3rd July 1916 - The Battalion marched to Wallincourt (should be Warlincourt), via St Amand and Gaudiempre. The night before, they were in billets at Souastre.



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4th July 1916 - (can't make it out)


5th July 1916 - (can't make it out)


6th July 1916 - 110th Infantry Brigade transferred to 21st Division. The Battalion marched to TALMAS, falling in 2AM and arriving 9AM. The (brigade?) commander wished good bye and good luck at PAS




7th July 1916 - Falling in at 9AM we marched to HANGEST arriving 4.30PM




8th July 1916 - Billets. Resting

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OK Rob, how did you arrive at your blue route-march lines?

Are they your 'best estimate' of the route taken?


I've been trying to work out the approximate route for 1st Norfolks on 2nd Sep 1918 into and around Beugny without any luck - no map ref.s to go on or anything :confused:


Nice maps by the way.

Any ideas if the trench maps now availaable on CD in 3-D form (showing ground contours graphically) can be reproduced in publications?



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Nice idea, Rob.


Well worth continuing. I presume the war diary you're looking at is a bit more detailed with stopping off points so you can retrace the route.


Not sure if you can download the maps to use in print form or anything like that, Tony. But I haven't tried.

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Ah, could be - or Brigade parades, shorthanded somehow. Here's today's;


10th July 1916 - The Battalion left Hangest at 1am and marched to Ailly entraining there for Merricourt which was reached about 11am. Buses were provided to Meault where the rest of the day was resting, until 11pm


Afraid no map this time, as couldn't get google maps to work!

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11th July 1916, Bottom Wood - The Battalion having moved up , the 7th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment were relieved early in the morning. Guides were provided at Fricourt, but it was almost daylight before the relief was complete. The Quadrangle trench was occupied by (?) with a platoon from BTD in the Quadrangle Support. HQ A company and the remainder of B company were in Bottom Wood. During the night previous and daytime, the enemy kept up a slow bombardment with 105mm shrapnel and 150mm Howitzers.

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For this last post, i'll use a mixture of the war diary and other sources to try and keep it relatively brief, but cover the whole of the days events.


'14th July 1916 - ATTACH ON BAZANTIN LE PETIT WOOD and village by the 110th Infantry Brigade. The battalion was drawn up for the assault in four lines.'


The 7th Battalion was to lead the attack, along with the 6th, the 8th and 9th were in support.


3.25am, zero hour - whistles blew and men went over the top. Enemy machine gun and shell fire started almost immediately. The 7th was held up by a machine gun for around twenty minutes until grenade bombers of the 6th put it out of action. At around 4am, D company 7th Leicesters advanced too quickly and were caught up in the lifting barrage, causing casualties. Slowly, and with mounting casualties, the battalion and the rest of the 110th Brigade fought their way through the maze of trenches, shell holes and smashed trees of Bazentin le Petit wood. By the afternoon, most of the wood had been occupied including Forest Trench, the second objective of the Brigade.


At about 7pm, a last effort by the 7th Battalion removed the rest of the Germans from the wood, already difficult due to a long day of fighting, but also due to thick undergrowth making visibility and movement difficult. With darkness falling, the fighting gradually came to a stop. All the objectives had been taken, but at a heavy cost. Each Battalion lost around 100 men killed and two hundred wounded.


A few days later, the 110th left the front line. However, they were to return to the Somme and go over the top again, in September.

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