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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Harry Charles Last Name: JONES
Date of Death: 14/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Kingsland
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Surrey (Queens)2
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Kingsland

 

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.

Two weeks after the events of 1st July, the British Army on the Somme was ready to renew the offensive along a broad front stretching from Longueval to Bazentin-le-Petit. On 14th July, 1916, 7th Division attacked Bazentin-le-Grand Wood. At 3.25am, after a five minute hurricane bombardment of the German positions, which destroyed trenches, wire and strong points, 20 Brigade and 22 Brigade attacked. No-man’s-land here was 1200 yards wide so they had moved up much closer over night and straight away they captured the enemy front line. The German second line was taken fifteen minutes later after another short bombardment and within two hours they were at their final objective, Bazentin-le-Grand Wood, which they cleared and consolidated. In front of them now stood High Wood and in the afternoon, following a false report that the whole of the village of Longueval had been captured it was decided that 91 Brigade of 7th Division would attack this commanding position just behind the German lines which it was essential to capture before further advances could be made.  But there were the inevitable delays and 2nd Royal West Surrey (Queens) and 1st South Staffordshire did not make their move until 7pm. High Wood was 3/4 mile away, largely untouched by shellfire and beyond a slight dip of open ground. As they moved forward a machine gun in Delville Wood opened up but was soon silenced by an aircraft and the two battalions entered High Wood together where they found but a few Germans. Progress was difficult through the thick undergrowth but eventually a line was consolidated through the middle of the wood and up its eastern edge with the enemy maintaining a presence on the western side. There were of course casualties for 2nd Queens, many of them coming from artillery fire as the battalion moved up from their reserve position prior to the attack. One of these casualties was Harry Jones.

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