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Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme
First Name: Frederick Arthur Last Name: ABERDEEN
Date of Death: 15/09/1916 Lived/Born In: Clerkenwell
Rank: Sergeant Unit: London8
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-21

389, Northampton Buildings, Clerkenwell

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme

 

The Battle of the Somme (July-November, 1916)

By the beginning of September, 1916,  the Battle of the Somme had been raging for two months. Thousands of men had already been killed or wounded or were simply missing, never to be seen again and and just a few square miles of the French countryside, all in the southern part of the battlefield, had been captured from the enemy. Mistakes had been made by the various commanders and would be continued to be made but there was no turning back as the British, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders and Canadians carried on battering away at the German defences in the hope of a breakthrough, So it continued all the way through to November with nearly every battalion and division then in France being drawn into it at some stage. In the end the German trenches had been pushed back a few more miles along most of the line but the cost in lives had been staggering. By the end of the fighting in November, 1916, British Army casualties numbered over 400,000, killed, wounded and missing.

On 15th September, 1916, the offensive on the Somme was renewed with a full scale attack on the German 3rd line of defences. Four Army Corps were used on a front that stretched from Combles, through the village of Flers and on to Courcelette.. The artillery barrage that preceded this attack was more concentrated than that on 1st July and the attack itself was more successful. The villages of Flers, Martinpuich and Courcelette were captured and the enemy was finally pushed out of High Wood, but the breakthrough was not achieved and the reality was that when the battle ended on 22nd September, the front line had just been moved forward a mile or so. The battle is notable for being the first time that tanks were used.

47th (London) Division attacked on 15th September with 140 and 141 Brigades. While 141 Brigade assaulted directly into High Wood, 140 Brigade attacked on their right. 7th London and 15th London led the attack by 140 Brigade with 8th London and then 6th London passing through them to the second and third objectives. At 6.20am 7th London moved forward in four waves just to the east of the wood on a 400 yard front and without meeting too much opposition reached the Switch Line, a German trench on the reverse side of the slope. They dug in just beyond it. At this stage 8th London left their trenches and began their move forward. However, in the confusion of the battle those on the left got caught up in the fighting for High Wood itself, becoming inter-mingled with the units of 141 Brigade. Nevertheless some of 8th London managed to gain a foothold in Flag Lane, part of the Starfish Line which was the second objective of 140 Brigade. Here they dug in as 6th London passed through them to attack the third objective. Although successful in taking their objective, 8th London sustained many casualties in the process. One of these was Frederick Aberdeen.

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