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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: James Last Name: KILLICK
Date of Death: 03/09/1916 Lived/Born In: Earlsfield
Rank: Private Unit: East Kent (Buffs)8
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-19

72, Summerley Street, Earlsfield

 

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.

24th Division had arrived on the Somme at the end of July, 1916 and had been involved in the attack on Guillemont on 18th August when 8th East Kent (Buffs) of 17 Brigade sustained heavy casualties. After this they moved back to reserve lines in Happy Valley for a period of reorganisation and training. By the end of the month 24th Division had moved back to the front line between Delville Wood and High Wood. This was a difficult relief because by now the weather had turned very wet and the deep, sticky Somme mud made progress extremely difficult. The Battle of Guillemont, which finally saw that village captured by the British,  began on 3rd September, 1916 and on the same day, in conjunction with this, ‘B’ Company of 8th Buffs attacked the southern part of Wood Lane from their position in Worcester Trench. All did not go well. They began their attack too late because all the runners sent to synchronise with the brigade on the left were killed and when they rose to the attack they immediately met the German barrage and machine-gun fire while still on their own parapet. All the officers and the CSM of ‘B’ Company fell and the attack was held up. A second attack was arranged for 4pm but the failure of the artillery to to lift and concentrated enemy machine-gun fire soon stopped this attack.  The bombers managed to work they way up the trench towards the strongpoint but all the accompanying infantry were hit. Meanwhile ‘D’ Company had been attached to 72 Brigade and had gone up to support 9th East Surrey in Delville Wood. Here they had suffered severely from shell fire and lost many officers and men. Among the casualties sustained by 8th Buffs on 3rd September was James Killick.

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