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First Name: Benjamin Last Name: EDGERLEY
Date of Death: 08/08/1918 Lived/Born In: Borough
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers9
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-19

106, Scovell Road, Borough

Dive Copse British Cemetery, Sailly-le-Sec, France

 

After having been on the defensive since March 1918, by August of that year the Allies were ready to move to the attack and on 8th August, The Battle of Amiens began, a battle that marked the beginning of what came to be known as the Hundred Day Offensive that culminated in the collapse of the German army and the end of the war. British, Australian and Canadian troops attacked on a wide front that stretched about eighteen miles from Morlancourt, north of the River Somme to the Amiens-Roye road while the French launched their own offensive to the south in the Battle of Montdidier. At 4.20am  on 8th August, aided by early morning mist and backed by 900 guns, 600 tanks and 2000 aircraft the assault was unleashed on the unsuspecting Germans many of whom surrendered straight away. Their resistance stiffened as the day progressed but despite this the Allied forces advanced about 7 miles by nightfall and further, but far less spectacular, gains were made over the next three days until the battle ended on 11th August. Losses had been enormous on both sides. British, Australian and Canadian casualties amounted to 19,000 but the Germans lost 26,000, including 12,000 taken prisoner, an awful blow that prompted Ludendorff, the German supremo, to call it the ‘Black Day’ of the German Army.

III Corps, north of the Somme had the task of protecting the flank of the Australians, keeping pace with their advance and securing the high ground overlooking the passages of the Somme. They attacked from right to left with 58th, 18th and 12th Divisions but despite having a more modest role than the Australians and Canadians they were unable to achieve the same measure of success as them and on the opening day of the battle only managed to reach their first objective. This was due to the difficulty of the ground over which they attacked and the fact that they had all been heavily involved in the earlier battles of 1918 which meant that not only was there a shortage of officers and NCOs but that their ranks were filled with young, inexperienced recruits. To add to their problems, on the night of 7/8th August, before the attack began, this area, north of the Somme was subjected to heavy enemy shelling, including many gas shells, which not only caused casualties but hindered their progress to their starting lines as well.

The attack by 18th Division was carried out by 55 Brigade and by 36 Brigade of 12th Division which were attached at the last minute to replace the badly depleted 54 Brigade. Prior to the action 36 Brigade had been shelled and gassed in Heilly and on the Corbie-Bray road as they made their way forward to where the 9th Royal Fusiliers and 7th Sussex battalions attacked. They quickly regained the land lost to the enemy two days earlier and then became heavily engaged in what had been the old British front line. Assistance arrived in the shape of the 10th Essex battalion of 55 Brigade and all three battalions overcame resistance and went on to reach the first objective. Here 9th Royal Fusiliers and 7th Sussex consolidated the position while battalions from 53 Brigade passed through and went on to try to capture the next objective. 9th Royal Fusiliers suffered over three hundred casualties during the course of the day and the battalion was re-organised into two companies as a consequence. Over fifty were killed, one of whom was Benjamin Edgerley.

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