second battle of the somme


© IWM (Q 8626) top Battle of Rosieres, 26th March, 1918 occurred during the German Michael Offensive, was also called Second Somme. The map below shows the progression of the battle (from Wikipedia). The top picture show the British burning their vast supply depots in Bouzincourt. Albert is to the left, it would fall the next day. Artillery can be seen pulling out in the middle distance.


Two green texts from /k/ about the horrors of the First World War. 

While I’m quite sure the first one is real, I’m unable to verify either (I lack the time, sorry).

As stated above, the second greentext was describing the battle of the Somme.

If they are, it’s a mortifying record of how devastating on the human psyche the conflict was, and if they aren’t well, there are other accounts.

That’s all for now, Friends!

July 13, 1916 - The Somme: Mametz Wood Falls, British Casualties Since July 2 Total 25,000

Pictured - The Welsh at Mametz Wood (1918), by Christopher Williams.

Mametz Wood, a heavily fortified copse of trees, was a priority for the British advance on the Somme during the second week of the battle.  Assigned to Major-General Watt’s 7th Division, the German defenders of the wood resisted for several days.  The assaulting Welsh troops used a “false lift” to cover their advance, an artillery tactic borrowed from the French in which the artillery barrage lifted of trenches to simulate the moment of attack, but then returns once the Germans had re-manned their positions.

The Welsh battalions advanced into a cross-fire of machine-gun bullets and shrapnel, but covered by the barrage, two battalions of the Royal Welch Fusiliers managed to enter the wood, ducking into a ravine.  German counter-attacks contested the position all day, while more and more British battalions were fed into the fight.  Eventually, two more Fusilier battalions came up in support.  Enraged by the sight of Germans bayonetting British wounded, they made a mad-dash charge and broke the defending German Lehr Regiment. 

The battle lasted from July 10 to July 13, by which the final German hold-outs were cleared out of the wood.It had cost about 4,000 casualties from the Welsh New Army division to take the forest.  The fighting had been brutal and at close-quarters.

“Years of neglect had turned the wood into a formidable barrier, a mile deep.  Heavy shelling had.. .thrown trees and large branches into a barricade.  Equipment, ammunition, rolls of barbed wire, tins of food, gas helmets and rifles wee lying about everywhere. There were more corpses than men.  Limbs and mutilated trunks, here and there a detached head, forming splashes of red against the green leaves, and, as an advertisement for the horror of our way of life and death, and of our crucifixion of youth, one tree held in its branches a leg, with its torn flesh hanging down over a spray of leaf… a derelict machine gun propping up the head of an immobile figure in uniform, with a belt of ammunition drooping from the breech into a pile of stained red earth.”

British casualties since July 2 totaled up to 25,000, without adding in the catastrophic losses of July 1.  It had been a gruesome baptism of fire for the New Armies, and there had been much to criticize in the performance of its commanders.  What is less well-known is the remarkable, and rapid,  improvement in British leadership over the course of the battle of the Somme.  Only one Major-General was not sacked in its first weeks.  Certainly, inexperienced commanders had made countless mistakes, and much of Britain’s success in the first weeks of the Battle of the Somme rested on the near super-human courage of the men. But the command structure recognized its faults and addressed them, removing poor officers and grasping at the necessity for more complicated artillery barrages and tactical surprises.  Both of these would be seen the next day at Bazentin Ridge.

Jack Robinson and WWI

So, I’ve always had something of an interest in military history, and I decided for my Rosie fic I needed to get an idea of what Jack’s experience of the Great War would be. For the record, I am not a historian, didn’t really study this period in school, and I’m not Australian, so anyone better qualified, feel free to blow my conclusions out of the water. This is all based on nothing more than extensive Wikipedia reading and a few Australian social history sites.

Keep reading

July 17, 1916 - The Somme: End of Battle for Bazentin Ridge

Pictured - Highlanders during the battle.

The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, which had started on July 14, split into two battles soon after beginning.  The number of small woods and skirmishes fortified by the Germans on Bazentin Ridge, the center-point of their second trench line on the Somme, necessitated separate battles for each one.  While some troops fot for Delville Wood, others struggled for High Wood, which had been the focus of the July 14 attacks. A cavalry attack had cleared part of High Wood on July 14, but the cavalrymen were soon replaced with an infantry division.  The Germans brought up more machine guns and enfiladed every British attack to take the rest of the High Wood, forcing the British to give up on the attack on July 17.