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First Name: Albert Edward Last Name: CHURCHILL
Date of Death: 28/08/1916 Lived/Born In: North Kensington
Rank: Rifleman Unit: Rifle Brigade3
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-20

I, Swinbrook Road, North Kensington

St Pierre Cemetery, Amiens, France

 

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.

After a series of piecemeal, largely uncoordinated attacks against the German line in the first half of August, 1916, some lessons had been learned and the large operation carried out on 18th August at least had the merit of an attack on a broad front with a standard zero hour of 2.45pm. But in other respects, notably the artillery bombardment, tactics had not improved much. The Germans had by now adopted the tactic of placing their machine-guns in isolated shell holes which could only be destroyed by drenching the whole area with artillery but this did not happen and it was going to cost many British lives. The main focus of the attack was against the village of Guillemont but also stretched further along the line as far as High Wood. Despite some gains around Delville Wood and to the north and south of Guillemont, the attack was a failure. The main bastions of the German defence line were not breached.

24th Division arrived on the Somme during the last week of July, 1916 and on 18th August, 3rd Rifle Brigade of 17 Brigade took part in an attack against the village of Guillemont during which they advanced with great dash and captured not only the German front line but also Guillemont Station and some of the Waterlot Farm road. The attack was renewed on 21st August but this time they were not so successful. During that morning, parties from 3rd Rifle Brigade and 8th East Kent (Buffs) , both from 17 Brigade, occupied, that part of ZZ Trench that led into Guillemont and then at 4.30pm , 8th Queens  attacked the Quarry on the eastern outskirts of Guillemont whilst at the same time one company from each of 3rd Rifle Brigade and 1st Royal Fusiliers advanced south-east from Guillemont Station. But the enemy resistance was very strong here and their bombers soon got the upper hand and forced the company from 3rd Rifle Brigade, and the assaulting troops from the other battalions back to their starting line. Losses were high for 3rd Rifle Brigade and included Albert Churchill who died of wounds on 28th August.

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