Published By Ben Hillidge
After the opening day the Somme Offensive would continue eastward with a succession of battles to capture fortified villages and woodlands.
Trones Wood is situated about 2kms east of Montauban on the road to Guillemont. The Wood is teardrop shaped, about 1500m long and 400m at the widest point – this presenting a narrow front easier to defend and difficult to attack.
The first assault to capture the Wood was on 8 July but was beaten back. A second assault took place over the 10-11 July, this too failed. The Wood was finally captured on 14 July when men of the Middlesex and Royal West Kent Regiments advanced shoulder to shoulder as in a pheasant shoot. By the time the wood was finally cleared, it was a mass of felled trees, wrapped in barbed wire and carpeted with bodies, a horrific site, which took several weeks to clear.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on Trones Wood.
Trones Wood. 19 Bn King’s Liverpool. 10-12 July 1916.
On 10 July 89 Brigade was ordered to capture Trones Wood. All 4 battalions of the Brigade would be engaged – 17, 19 & 20 Bns King’s Liverpool – 3 of 4 Liverpool Pals, and 2 Bn Bedfordshire Regiment. The attack was timed for 3.27am, 11 July. The Bedfordshires attacked along Trones Alley on the west side, whilst 20 Bn KLR advanced along Maltz Horn Trench towards the southern edge of the Wood. The 17 Bn & 19 Bn KLR were in support, The 17 Bn at the Briqueterie and 19 Bn in the old German front line forward of Maricourt.
The attack was held up – the Bedfordshires could not penetrate the thick undergrowth against a strong defence and dug in on the edge of the Wood; the 20 Bn KLR were held up by a enemy strong point to the east of the Wood which barred the way along Maltz Horn Trench. No progress was possible and in the mid afternoon C Company from 19 Bn KLR was ordered forward to support the Bedfordshires and to try and locate and capture the strong point. They managed to get into the Wood and to locate the strong point but came under heavy sniper fire and were forced back to the Wood’s edge where they dug in and awaited the inevitable counter attack. This came at about 6.30pm. At first they managed to hold the enemy but weight of numbers eventually told and they were forced back out of the Wood. C Company remained in the front line until the next day when they rejoined the battalion. Casualties for C Company were – Officers 4 KIA, including the Company Commander; ORs 9 KIA, 45 wounded 10 missing.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 19 Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment
B&O 1916. Somme. Trones Wood. 19 Bn King’s Liverpool 10-12 July 1916.