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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: John Last Name: WALL
Date of Death: 23/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Custom House
Rank: Private Unit: Cornwall Light Infantry1
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Birmingham

Enlisted-Canning Town

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

On 1st July 1916 The British Army launched a massive offensive along a section of the front line running north of the River Somme. The French attacked south of it. The first day was a disaster for the British army which suffered nearly 60,000 casualties, 19,000 of whom were killed, and made hardly any inroads into the enemy lines. But the battle had to go on, if for no other reason than to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun where they had been facing the full onslaught of the powerful German Army. 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 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 14th July, 1916, a second major offensive was launched, this time against the German second line of defences stretching from Longueval to Bazentin-le-Petit, but unfortunately, after a promising start which saw some important gains on the first day, the British Army once again reverted to a series of uncoordinated attacks, using out dated tactics. Not surprisingly they soon found themselves engaged in a war of attrition as they attempted to push the enemy further back across the Somme battlefield. This was no more so the case than in the fight to capture the village of Longueval and Delville Wood that lay next to it; a struggle that went on for many weeks through the summer of 1916.

On 19th July, 1916, 5th Division moved into this sector and began preparing for their part in a general attack on the night of 22nd- 23rd July, 1916, which would involve seven other divisions with objectives that stretched from Guillemont on the right of the line to Pozieres Ridge on the left. 3rd Division attacked Delville Wood and in order to protect the left flank, 1st East Surrey and 1st Cornwall Light Infantry of 95 Brigade, 5th Division, attempted to clear the enemy strongpoints in the orchards to the north of Longueval. They both managed to cross the Flers road and 1st East Surrey captured and consolidated one of these strongpoints, but a strong German counter attack drove back both battalions to Pont Street, their starting off point. There were many casualties sustained during this unsuccessful operation, one of whom was John Wall of 1st Cornwall Light Infantry.

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