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Warlencourt British Cemetery, France Warlencourt British Cemetery, France
First Name: Joshua Last Name: MOLEN
Date of Death: 05/11/1916 Lived/Born In: Custom House
Rank: Private Unit: Durham Light Infantry8
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-33

63, Mortlake Road, Custom House

Warlencourt British Cemetery, France

 

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

By the beginning of November, 1916,  the Battle of the Somme had been raging for four 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, nearly all in the southern part of the battlefield, had been captured from the enemy. With November came the winter weather and this, combined with the sheer exhaustion of all involved, brought about the end of the battle by the end of the month. Since the 1st July, 1916, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African casualties numbered over 400,000, killed, wounded and missing.

During November the focus of the fighting switched to the Ancre valley where the last major British offensive was launched on 13th of the month. Along the southern front fighting still continued but this was largely a series of localised attacks mainly designed to straighten out pockets and small salients in order to provide a more advantageous position for defence or attack in the future.

On 5th November, 151 Brigade of 50th Division attacked the Butte de Warlencourt, an ancient burial mound near the village of Le Sars. The weather conditions were awful and the notorious Somme mud was at its worst. On the right 8th Durham Light Infantry had to pull each other out of the mud in order to advance and consequently were well behind the artillery barrage that was laid on to protect their attack. Despite this they almost reached the German wire but faced with machine-gun fire from both flanks they could go no further. On the left, 9th Durham Light Infantry had better luck and were able to break through two German lines and reach the Butte. They also established a post on the Bapaume road. But their success was not to last. Determined enemy counter attacks during the afternoon and evening gradually forced 151 Brigade back and by midnight the survivors were all back on their starting line. There were many casualties during this operation one of them being Joshua Molen of 8th Durham Light Infantry.

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