This ‘Battleground’ covers, in its usual consistent and collectable format the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, the first large offensive of the Reserve Army (Lieutenant General Hubert Gough), during the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front during the First World War. The attack was intended to benefit from the Fourth Army attack in the Battle of Morval, by starting 24 hours afterwards. The battle was fought on a front from Courcelette in the east, near the Albert–Bapaume road to Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt (Schwaben-Feste) in the west, which overlooked the German defences further north in the Ancre valley, the rising ground towards Beaumont-Hamel and Serre beyond.
Thiepval Ridge was well fortified and the German defenders fought with great determination, while the British co-ordination of infantry and artillery declined after the first day, due to the confused nature of the fighting in the mazes of trenches, dugouts and shell-craters. The final British objectives were not reached until a reorganisation of the Reserve Army and the Battle of the Ancre Heights (1 October – 11 November).
Organisational difficulties and deteriorating weather frustrated General Joseph Joffre’s intention to proceed with vigorous co-ordinated attacks by the Anglo-French armies, which became disjointed and declined in effectiveness during late September, at the same time as a revival occurred in the German defence. The British experimented with new techniques in gas warfare, machine-gun bombardment and tank–infantry co-operation.
The German defenders on the Somme front struggled to withstand the preponderance of men and material fielded by the Anglo–French, despite reorganisation and substantial reinforcement of troops, artillery and aircraft from Verdun. September became the month most costly in casualties for the German armies on the Somme.
THIEPVAL Battleground Somme
The Somme Offensive which opened on 7 July 1916 is the battle that symbolises the horrors of the Great War, with its appalling carnage and waste in return for negligible tactical achievement. Thiepval was pivotal to the campaign and many of the units who fought here were Pals’ Battalions,their decimation meant disproportionate losses for the communities from which the Regiments were drawn. This book not only describes the action but has many personal accounts. It gives details of numerous walks and explains the locality’s military significance.