Published By John Davies
Ginchy, Les Boeufs, Morval Ridge. Transloy. Gueudecourt. DAYS September 1917
- Morval Ridge. 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 25 September 1916.
Morval Ridge, 25-28 September 1916.
GOOGLE MAPS Morval
Morval is situated on a road leading south to Crombles, which was a major German communication and distribution hub. There was an underground labyrinth of interconnected dugouts, and a maze of fortifications above ground. The approaches this time were not over open country but through wooded ravines and ridges amongst which the Germans had systematically built their defences. With the capture of Guillemont and Ginchy villages to the East, the fighting was now concentrated on the line of villages of Fler-Courcelette, Les Boeufs and Morval to the north-east of the front. Between the latter two villages is section of higher ground – the Morval Ridge.
The assault was planned for 25 September. The assault would also employ the new battlefield tactic of the creeping barrage. This involved the infantry following behind an artillery barrage which would protect their advance. The barrage would lift according to a timetable with the infantry then moving forward. It’s successful execution required good coordination between the infantry and the artillery, as well as intensive training. The infantry, in order to gain maximum cover and advantage, had to follow as close as possible to the barrage. Inevitably though there were casualties as a result of ‘friendly fire’ but such losses were accepted given the previous alternative of infantry being unprotected and suffering heavier casualties from machine guns. The tactic was one of several changes introduced as a result of the experiences and heavy casualties during the opening phases of the Battle of the Somme. Another new tactic was the short intense barrage and rushing assaults under cover of darkness used by the 7 Bn KSLI a few weeks before at Bazentin. Considerable use was made of “Spotter” balloons to assist the Artillery. The whole battle area was patrolled by the RFC. Planning and training bore fruit and all objectives were attained within three days. Crombles fell on 26 September. It was probably the most successful battle in the whole Somme Offensive, and achieved in spite of very wet and cold weather.
Morval Ridge. 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 25 September 1916.
The 1 Bn KSLI arrived on the Somme in early August 1916 and went into trenches opposite Beaumont. At the beginning of September they were moved back to the rear for training in the new tactic of the creeping barrage. They returned to the front line to the south of Guillemont over 15/16 September where they acted as carrying parties supporting the assault on that village. On the 18 September the battalion was heavily engaged in the fighting to capture a German strongpoint known as the Quadrilateral about 1000 yards south of Guillemont. They were then moved into the support lines at the Briqueterie about 1000 yards SW of Guillemont. Here they worked at preparing the assembly trenches ready for the next phases of the offensive against Morval. On the 25 September the offensive was recommenced. The battalion were to support the 2 Yorks. and Lancs. in the assault of the Morval Ridge between Morval and Les Boeufs. The battalion would be in the second wave tasked with securing and consolidating the ridge once the Yorks. and Lancs. had passed through. They assembled in trenches north east of Ginchy village on the night of the 24 September. Zero hour for the assault was set at 12.35pm on the 25 September. The battalion went over the top at 2.30pm and advanced in artillery formation under a creeping barrage up to the ridge. The advance was a success, the enemy offering light resistance and all objectives were secured by 3.00pm. The battalion was relived the next night and moved back to the Briqueterie. Casualties are not recorded.
WAR DIARY 1 Bn KSLI. Regimental History KSLI.
B&O 1916. Somme -Ginchy. Les Boeufs. Morval. Transloy. Gueudecourt. Sept-Oct 1916.