Hawthorn

As we know the Hawthorn Ridge and Redoubt was dominant in view and looked over the dispositions of the British Troops. The plan was made to mine the Redoubt. Accordingly, the 252nd Tunneling Company was directed to undertake this and mine the Redoubt at its highest point. In under 2 months the miners had created a gallery of over 1,000 feet and laid an ammonal charge of 40,000 lbs. Permission was given to blow the mine at around 3.00 am in order that the Redoubt could be taken and consolidated prior to the main attack at 7.30 am. Permission was refused and it was finally agreed that the mine would be detonated at 7.20 am. It was obvious that if the mine were fired 10 minutes before zero hour, the British Artillery would have to lift its barrage to prevent the shelling of men in advanced positions. This would give the enemy 10 minutes to in which to mount their defenses in complete safety and shell our forward support and communication trenches. The Germans were quick to take advantage of these circumstances. It has been suggested that both Haig and Rawlinson thought the early firing of the mine on the ridge would draw German Artillery from the South, particularly from the Schwaben Redoubt and that this may be to an advantage of the all important X Corps attack on Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt. 

The mine was detonated and at 7.25 am on the right hand side of the 86th Brigade, the 2nd Royal Fusiliers advanced, and immediately came under heavy cross machine gun fire. A few reached the mine crater, but none got as far as the German wire. On the left the 16th Middlesex moved forward steadily and reached the crater with considerable losses.

On the 13th of November 1916, during the Battle of the Ancre, a new tunnel was dug and detonated. This time, Hawthorn Ridge and the nearby village of Beaumont Hamel were captured and 2000 Germans were held captive. This marked the end of the Battle of the Somme. 

Hawthorn Ridge and Crater WW1

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