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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: George Frederick Last Name: LEAHY
Date of Death: 01/07/1916 Lived/Born In: West Brompton
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Surrey (Queens)7
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:


9, Gordon House, Upcerne Road, West Brompton

The opening day of the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916

This was a disastrous day for the British Army in France. Eleven divisions of Fourth Army attacked along a 15 mile front from Maricourt to Serre. Two further divisions of Third Army launched a diversionary attack just to the north of Serre at Gommecourt. For a week beforehand the British artillery pounded the German trenches but the Germans had been there for a long time and they had constructed deep, concrete reinforced shelters beneath their trenches and many survived the bombardment. The troops went over the top at 7.30am but even before they had left their overcrowded trenches, many had been killed or maimed by German artillery. The Germans knew that they were coming. Once in No-Man’s-Land the artillery continued to take its toll and then the machine guns opened up on the advancing British infantry. They fell in their thousands and the attack came to a standstill almost everywhere. Survivors sought cover wherever they could find it and at night they crawled back to their own lines, often dragging a wounded soldier with them. Only in the south were any advances made with the attack on Fricourt and Mametz. Over 19,000 British soldiers were killed on this day, including 2,500 from London.

On 1st July, 1915, 55 Brigade of 18th Division attacked the German positions in front of Carnoy on the right of the British line in one of the few successful actions of the day. They had been in the area since March 1916 and knew it well.  Previous mines had left a mass of small craters about 150 yards wide near the Carnoy-Montauban road which the Germans had occupied.  At 7.27am two mines were fired , one at Casino Point and the other further west and at 7.30am, 7th Royal West Surrey (Queens) and 8th East Surrey went over the top with 7th East Kents in support. Their objective was  a trench 200 yards north of the Montauban-Fricourt road but neither the bombardment, nor the clearing party, a company of 7th East Kents (Buffs) were able to clear the crater area on its eastern side and machine gun fire from there caused severe casualties for 7th Royal West Surrey and 7th Royal West Kent who were following them.  However, the western side of the craters was successfully subdued by a flame projector and at 10.00am the enemy were seen to be leaving this area, known as the Warren. This enabled 7th Royal West Surrey to send up more men, attack it and clear it. They captured 90 Germans and entered the western end of Train Alley. At 2pm the last remaining enemy resistance in Back Trench surrendered after a bombing attack from three sides and another 150 prisoners were taken. By 3pm 7th Royal West Surrey, now 100 strong and reinforced by a coy of 7th East Kents, reached the Montauban-Mametz road and joined up 8th East Surrey and  7th Royal West Kent. This success came at a price. 7th Royal West Surrey’s casualties for the day amounted to nearly 500.

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