Beaumont Hamel

The area of attack of the 29th Division was Beaumont Hamel and the Hawthorm Ridge to the East, on The Somme Battlefield. South of Beaumont Hamel was the German strongpoint called Y-Ravine., named after its shape and cutting in to the Southern slope of Hawthorn Ridge. The whole of the 29th Divisions dispositions was under direct German Artillery observation from the Schwaben Redoubt North of Thiepval, from the high ground behind Beaumont Hamel and from the Hawthorn Ridge. The 86th Brigade on the left was to attack eastwards from North of Hawthorn Ridge. It was obvious that the Hawthorn redoubt having such a dominant view over the 86th Brigade, would present difficulties for any attack towards Beaumont Hamel. Plans were made to overcome this. The Sunken Road, sometimes referred to as Hunter's lane, a protective road with embankments, was just to the North of the Beaumont/Auchonvillers Road and directly North of the Redoubt. This was about half way across No Mans Land had been grappled for by both sides in the run up to the 1st July, with no positive result for either side. A tunnel was constructed by the British and a trench prepared at the end of it in to Hunters lane. The tunnel was opened up in the early hours of the morning and the 1st Lancs Fusiliers, B and D Companies, assembled in the much contested Sunken Road. at 3.00am on 1st July. Immediately after the firing of the mine, Stokes Mortars opened fire on the German 1st line. Ten minutes after the infantry began to advance towards the German 1st line of defenses. On leaving the Sunken Road, the Lancs Fusiliers were cut down by heavy machine gun fire and very few men reached the German wire. Most were down within the 1st few yards after leaving the comparative safety of the Sunken Road. One of the major problems throughout the line was communication. It appears that reports of Soldiers advancing on Beaumont Hamel had been exaggerated and therefore ordered the advance of the Newfoundlanders and the 1st Essex Battalion. 

For the 29th Division, like the 4th, the heavy loss of so many experienced Soldiers was a heavy price to pay for absolutely no gain. No other men could have done more, the German defenses were impenetrable. It was all over in an hour and a half. 

It wasn't until later in the year the Beaumont Hamel would see another major offensive. With Winter fast approaching the question was whether to continue as attacks had been planned and regularly postponed. A few days fair weather with no rain and with it being dry, November 13th was the day of the main offensive.The 51st (Highland) Division attacked from a position slightly ahead of that of the 1st of July. The second mine in the Hawthorn Crater was blown, this time just before Zero Hour. The leading troops here met with strong German resistance, but they took the village.

Beaumont Hamel WW1

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