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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Thomas Last Name: KING
Date of Death: 31/08/1916 Lived/Born In: Harrow Road
Rank: Private Unit: Middlesex13
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Kilburn

 

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 13th Middlesex of 73 Brigade sustained heavy casualties. After this debacle they moved back to Sandpit Camp near Meaulte for a period of reorganisation and training. On 30th August they moved back to the front line between Delville Wood and High Wood, taking over sections of Tea Trench, Worcester Trench, Pont Street and Orchard Trench. This was a difficult relief because by now the weather had turned very wet and the deep, sticky Somme mud made progress extremely difficult. Then, to add to their woes, on the following day, 31st August, 1916, the enemy launched an attack against these positions. This was preceded by a heavy artillery bombardment which hit 13th Middlesex, on the left of the line held by 73 Brigade, particularly hard. The Germans then began to advance from their barricade in Wood Lane and after some heavy fighting pushed 13th Middlesex back as they bombed along Tea trench nearly as far as North Street. Fighting a rearguard action 13th Middlesex managed to slow down the German advance until supports arrived, but they paid a heavy price in casualties. Among those killed in action on 31st August was Thomas King.

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