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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Thomas Percy Last Name: ALLEN
Date of Death: 11/09/1916 Lived/Born In: Edmonton
Rank: Private Unit: London14
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-25

39, Warwick Road, Edmonton

 

The Battle of the Somme (July-November, 1916)

By the beginning of September, 1916,  the Battle of the Somme had been raging for two months. Thousands of men had already been killed or wounded or were simply missing, never to be seen again and and just a few square miles of the French countryside, all in the southern part of the battlefield, had been captured from the enemy. Mistakes had been made by the various commanders and would be continued to be made but there was no turning back as the British, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders and Canadians carried on battering away at the German defences in the hope of a breakthrough, So it continued all the way through to November with nearly every battalion and division then in France being drawn into it at some stage. In the end the German trenches had been pushed back a few more miles along most of the line but the cost in lives had been staggering. When the battle drew to a close in November, 1916, British Army casualties numbered over 400,000, killed, wounded and missing.

On 1st July, 1916, 56th (London) Division, which included 14th London of 168 Brigade, had been heavily involved during the opening day of the Battle of the Somme when they attacked the German defences at Gommecourt on the northern edge of the battlefield. They remained in that sector until they moved south, to where the battle was raging, at the beginning of September.

After the capture of Guillemont on 3rd September, the next target for the British was the village on Ginchy which was successfully taken by 16th Division on 9th September with 56th Divisionsupporting them to the south. The task of 168 Brigade on 9th September was to protect the right flank of 16th Division when they attacked Ginchy by assaulting the German defence line that ran between Leuze Wood and the Quadrilateral, a German strongpoint directly to the east of Ginchy. 12th London on the left and 4th London on the right moved to the attack at noon. 4th London managed to reach their objective but 12th London met machine-gun fire from their left flank and from in front and only the right hand company made any progress when they occupied their first objective, the Leuze Wood to Ginchy road. At this stage, 13th London, the support battalion, now advanced and that evening the 14th London battalion was sent forward from brigade reserve. One of the big problems on the Somme battlefield was that the land had been swept bare and in the dark there were very few discernible features to guide incoming units and, as was the case here, they got lost. The companies were separated; some joined 12th London and others linked up with 4th London. The lead companies were attacked in the open before reaching their objective and after some fierce hand to hand fighting they ended up back at their start line. On the following day, 10th September, they came under attack from enemy bombers and snipers and the ever present shell fire. 168 Brigade was relieved on 11th September and 14th London moved back. One of the battalion’s casualties over this period of heavy fighting was Thomas Allen who was killed on 11th September.

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