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Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, Somme Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, Somme
First Name: John David Last Name: JAURDEN
Date of Death: 01/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Brentford
Rank: Private Unit: Machine Gun Corps 64Bde
Memorial Site: Brentford Memorial

Current Information:

Born-Brentford

Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, Somme

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 each infantry brigade had its own machine gun company attached. They were armed with Vickers machine guns which could fire at a rate of 500 rounds as minute and weighed in total over 50 pounds. The weapons could be used either defensively or offensively, as was their intended role on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. They acted somewhat similarly to artillery, providing covering fire as the infantry advanced and then moving up to captured positions.

64 Company , Machine Gun Corps was part of 21st Division which attacked at Fricourt. 

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