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Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, Somme Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, Somme
First Name: Robert Last Name: HORNE
Date of Death: 15/07/1916 Lived/Born In: North Kensington
Rank: Rifleman Unit: King's Royal Rifle Corps16
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Born-Shepherd's Bush

Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France

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. The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, an attack on the German second line, began on 14th July, 1916. Different tactics were employed this time. The troops moved up, unseen and unnoticed, in the dark and after a fierce five minute artillery barrage, rose to the attack at 3.25am. The surprise element worked and the villages of Bazentin-le-Petit and Bazentin-le-Grand were soon taken as was most of Longueval but these early successes were not fully exploited and opportunities were lost, notably the failure to capture High Wood which was for a short time undefended. The new line was consolidated but once again the British Army found themselves engaged in a war of attrition as they attempted to push the enemy further back across the Somme battlefield.

33rd Division arrived on the Somme battlefield on 9th July, 1916, and on the evening of 14th July, 98 Brigade and 100 Brigade moved up to the forward positions between Bazentin-le-Petit and High Wood, that had been captured earlier in the day. Their orders for 15th July were to attack the German trench, the Switch Line, running in front of Martinpuich. Following a thirty minute bombardment of the German defences the attack was launched at 9am. On the right 1st Royal West Surrey (Queens) and 9th Highland Infantry of 100 Brigade set off across the 900 yards of no-man’s-land and were almost immediately hit by machine gun and rifle fire from High Wood on their right and from the Switch Line in front. They got to within 100 yards of their objective but found the wire there uncut and they had to seek cover in the long grass and try to dig in as best they could.  Even with the reinforcement of 16th King’s Royal Rifle Corps and 2nd Worcestershire, both 100 Brigade, they could go no further and by 4pm, 100 Brigade was back at its starting line. A similar story unfolded on their left where 1st Middlesex of 98 Brigade met the same fate. Many men from London were among 33rd Division’s casualties, one of them being Robert Horne of 16th King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

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