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Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz, Somme Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz, Somme
First Name: Edward George Last Name: SIMMONDS
Date of Death: 05/10/1916 Lived/Born In: Earlsfield
Rank: Rifleman Unit: London6
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-26

132, Ravensbury Road, Earlsfield

Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz, Somme

 

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

By the beginning of October, 1916,  the Battle of the Somme had been raging for three 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.

The Battle of Transloy Ridge

On 1st October, 1916, a new offensive was begun by the British Army. The Battle of Transloy Ridge was the last major operation fought during the battle of the Somme and it continued throughout the first three weeks of the month until the terrible conditions of rain, mud and cold coupled with the sheer exhaustion of the troops, brought things to a standstill. The aim had been to push the enemy further back to the next ridge of higher ground running between Le Transloy and Warlencourt. It was a very hard fight, progress was painfully slow, the casualty figure was shockingly high and the final objective was not achieved despite the best efforts of the attacking divisions. Three factors worked against its success. The first was the weather. It was simply awful. The second was the miles of war torn terrain which soon became a quagmire over which troops, guns, ammunition and all the other supplies had to cross to reach the front and keep the momentum of the offensive going. For the Germans, falling back on their own supply lines across relatively unscathed ground, this was not such a problem. The third factor was the new methods of defence employed by the enemy. They defended in depth without a well defined front line but instead setting up machine-gun nests in shell holes and other strategically important sites where just a few men could hold up an entire battalion. And of course, the German artillery had the whole area covered.

On 1st October when 141 Brigade of 47th (London) Division attacked Eaucourt l’Abbaye, 140 Brigade, including 6th London, were in reserve back in the town of Albert. The following evening 6th London moved up to Mametz Wood where the mud lay thick and on 4th October they moved forward to relieve the battalions of 141 Brigade in the front line at Eaucourt l’Abbaye. The journey up to the front line was an awful experience through the mud and rain and to make matters worse the enemy shelled them as they floundered their way forward. On the night of 5th/6th October a raiding party went out and captured the ruins of an old mill some two hundred yards in front of their positions. This operation and the German artillery resulted in casualties among the men of 6th London on 5th October. One of these was Edward Simmonds who was killed.

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