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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Edward Charles Last Name: ALLEN
Date of Death: 01/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Wembley
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers11
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial

Current Information:

Born-Kentish Town



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.

11th Royal Fusiliers of 54 Brigade, 18th Division took part in one of the successful attacks in the southern part of the front but nevertheless paid a heavy price. They had over 220 casualties by the end of the day. Along with 7th Bedfordshire they led an attack up the southern face of the Mametz spur between the two mine craters that had been blown minutes before the attack. They took the first two trenches without too much difficulty but a single German machine gun at ‘The Triangle’ in the 3rd trench badly hit 7th Bedfordshire’s leading lines before it was rushed.  By now, 11th Royal Fusiliers had advanced so rapidly that a halt had to be made in front of Pommiers Trench to allow the  barrage to lift  and at 7.50am, Pommiers Trench was taken by 54 Brigade and the left of 53 Brigade.  11th Royal Fusiliers bombing parties did well in clearing Black Alley during this advance. At 8.30am  11th Royal Fusiliers, 7Bedfordshire and 10th Essex advanced against the well-defended Pommiers Redoubt behind a creeping barrage but failed to make headway in the face of heavy  machine gun and rifle fire. So they attacked the flanks instead.  Some of 11th Royal Fusiliers moved on the stronghold from the west, via Maple Trench,  whilst the bulk of battalion, along with leading elements of 7th Bedfordshire, rushed it from the eastern side.  The hand to hand fighting here lasted an hour until the position was won. Reinforced by 6th Northamptonshire they then pushed on to Beetle Alley where the barrage was now falling. This was captured by 10.05am,  all opposition being dealt with by bombing parties, but now strong German resistance prevented any further advance east along Beetle Trench or Montauban Alley. 11th Royal Fusiliers remained in these forward positions until relieved on 3rd July but their success during this operation was overshadowed by high number of casualties that they sustained, one of whom was Edward Allen who was killed in action on 1st July.

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