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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Harold Sydney Last Name: ANDREWS
Date of Death: 04/10/1916 Lived/Born In: Edmonton
Rank: Lance Sergeant Unit: Middlesex7
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-19

39, Balham Road, Lower Edmonton

 

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

By the beginning of October, 1916,  the Battle of the Somme had been raging for three 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. By the end of the fighting in November, 1916, British Army casualties numbered over 400,000, killed, wounded and missing.

The Battle of Transloy Ridge

On 1st October, 1916, a new offensive was begun by the British Army. The Battle of Transloy Ridge was the last major operation fought during the battle of the Somme and it continued throughout the first three weeks of the month until the terrible conditions of rain, mud and cold coupled with the sheer exhaustion of the troops, brought things to a standstill. The aim had been to push the enemy further back to the next ridge of higher ground running between Le Transloy and Warlencourt. It was a very hard fight, progress was painfully slow, the casualty figure was shockingly high and the final objective was not achieved despite the best efforts of the attacking divisions. Three factors worked against its success. The first was the weather. It was simply awful. The second was the miles of war torn terrain which soon became a quagmire over which troops, guns, ammunition and all the other supplies had to cross to reach the front and keep the momentum of the offensive going. For the Germans, falling back on their own supply lines across relatively unscathed ground, this was not such a problem. The third factor was the new methods of defence employed by the enemy. They defended in depth without a well defined front line but instead setting up machine-gun nests in shell holes and other strategically important sites where just a few men could hold up an entire battalion. And of course, the German artillery had the whole area covered.

56th Division saw action on 1st October after 167 Brigade and 169 Brigade were ordered to send out patrols and  establish a line of posts over the crest of the Ridge. The 7th Middlesex battalion established four posts, four hundred yards into no-man’s-land, each garrisoned by an officer and twenty men. In the evening they pushed out a further post to protect their exposed left flank. The occupants of these posts remained in them for two days and nights, during which time the enemy maintained rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire on their front making it extremely difficult to keep the posts supplied with ammunition, food and water and resulting in some of the carrying parties becoming casualties. When relieved during the night of 3/4th October the men from one of these posts got lost in the dark and stumbled into the German trenches where they put up a hard fight until overwhelmed. Twelve of them were killed and the other five, all wounded, were taken prisoner. During the course of this operation, 7th Middlesex suffered over sixty casualties, twenty of whom were killed in action. Harold Andrews who was killed on 4th October was one of these.

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