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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: James Last Name: HOLLOWAY
Date of Death: 01/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Brentford
Rank: Private Unit: Yorkshire Light Infantry8
Memorial Site: 1. Brentford Memorial 2. Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:


166, Whitestile Road, Brentford


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 7.30 am 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, 1916, 8th Division attacked the Ovillers spur with 23 Brigade on the right, attacking along the exposed slopes of Mash Valley, 25 Brigade in the centre advancing on Ovillers and 70 Brigade on the left moving along the slopes of Nab Valley. 8th Yorkshire Light Infantry and 8th Yorks & Lancs were leading 70 Brigade’s attack with 9th Yorks & Lancs in support and 11th Sherwood Foresters in reserve. At first they made good progress because the attack by 32nd Division on their left diverted fire from German stong points at the Leipzig salient and on the Thiepval spur.  Many of the front waves got across no-man’s land and pushed on to the German 2nd line. At the 2nd line resistance grew but even so some men made it to the 3rd line another 200 yards further on. By now the German artillery was targeting no-man’s land and the British front  line which made it practically impossible to send reinforcements across.  Very few of the 3rd & 4th lines made it across the 400 yards of no-man’s land and 70 Brigade’s attack floundered. Until the Thiepval spur was captured no progress could be made here.  8th Yorkshire Light Infantry suffered 540 casualties on this day, most of them in the first hour.

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