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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: William Charles Last Name: FOX
Date of Death: 20/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Edgware Road
Rank: Private Unit: Cornwall Light Infantry1
Memorial Site: 1, Acton, St Mary 2. Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:


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 began relieving 3rd Division in this sector. On the following day, 20th July, “A” and “B” companies of 1st Cornwall Light Infantry of 95 Brigade, edged forward to occupy some of a sunken road that led to High Wood. The artillery bombardment taking place here during this time was incredibly intense and 1st Cornwall Light Infantry, although not involved in a direct attack on this day, sustained a number of casualties as a result. One of these was William Fox.

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