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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Reginald Gauntlett Last Name: MOON
Date of Death: 18/08/1916 Lived/Born In: Dollis Hill
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex13
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:




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

By the beginning of August the Battle of the Somme had been raging for a full month. 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.

After a series of piecemeal, largely uncoordinated attacks against the German line in the first half of August, 1916, some lessons had been learned and the large operation carried out on 18th August at least had the merit of an attack on a broad front with a standard zero hour of 2.45pm. But in other respects, notably the artillery bombardment, tactics had not improved much. The Germans had by now adopted the tactic of placing their machine-guns in isolated shell holes which could only be destroyed by drenching the whole area with artillery but this did not happen and it was going to cost many British lives. The main focus of the attack was against the village of Guillemont but also stretched further along the line as far as High Wood. Despite some gains around Delville Wood and to the north and south of Guillemont, the attack was a failure. The main bastions of the German defence line were not breached.

24th Division attacked Guillemont on 18th August with mixed results. They started from the front line to the east of Trones Wood and advanced on a 1000 yard front. 73 Brigade assaulted the German line with 13th Middlesex and 7th Northamptonshire. 13th Middlesex left their trenches in Arrow Head Copse and moved forward south of the Guillemont-Trones Wood track. At first they made good progress but close to the enemy line they were hit by machine gun fire coming from a strongpoint on their right. The men went to ground seeking what cover they could find in shell holes only to be targeted by the German artillery. Those who survived, and there were not many, lay out there until nightfall when they could crawl back to their own lines. 13th Middlesex sustained a large number of casualties in this operation. 340 officers and men were killed, wounded or missing. One of those killed was Reginald Moon.

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