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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: James Richard Last Name: MASON
Date of Death: 13/11/1916 Lived/Born In: Kensal Green
Rank: Private Unit: Royal Fusiliers7
Memorial Site: 1. Paddington, St Saviour 2. Thiepval Memorial

Current Information:


25, Kenmont Gardens, Kensal Green


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

By the beginning of November, 1916, the Battle of the Somme had been raging for four months. Thousands of men had already been killed or wounded or were simply missing, never to be seen again and just a few square miles of the French countryside, nearly all in the southern part of the battlefield, had been captured from the enemy. With November came the winter weather and this, combined with the sheer exhaustion of all involved, brought the battle to a close by the end of the month. Since the 1st July, 1916, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African casualties numbered over 400,000, killed, wounded and missing. 

During November the focus of the fighting switched to the Ancre valley where the last major British offensive was launched on 13th of the month. By now German defence tactics had evolved. They defended in depth without a well defined front line but rather setting up machine-gun nests in shell holes and other strategically important sites where just a few men could hold up an entire battalion. Meanwhile their artillery bombarded the British front line and all the communication trenches added to which the weather was simply awful turning the battlefield into a morass of mud. A few gains were made such as the capture of the village of Beaumont-Hamel and some of the marshy land either side of the river, but very few of the British objectives were achieved. Once again the casualty rate soared.

At 5.45am, on 13th November, the day the Ancre offensive began, 63rd Division attacked along the northern bank of the River Ancre. 189 Brigade were next to the river with 188 Brigade to their left. 190 Brigade were in support and the division’s objective was the village of Beaucourt. Good progress was made on the right, next to the river, but not so on the left where enemy resistance was greater. Around 7am, 190 Brigade: 7th Royal Fusiliers, 4th Bedfordshire, 1st Honourable Artillery Corps and 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, were ordered to move up. Advancing across no-man’s-land in the mud they were held up by machine-gun and rifle fire but some of them were able to make progress and join the struggle in the trenches on the Beaumont-Hamel spur. By the end of the day 7th Royal Fusiliers and the other units of 190 Brigade had managed to establish themselves in the captured German lines and were consolidating these new positions. But this had been a very costly operation for 7th Royal Fusiliers with nearly 400 officers and men either killed, wounded or missing. One of those killed was James Mason.

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