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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: Frederick Last Name: MERRITT
Date of Death: 23/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Roehampton
Rank: Lance Coporal Unit: Royal Fusiliers8
Memorial Site: Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:

Born-Sussex

Enlisted-Putney

 

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.

On 7th July, 1916, 12th Division attacked and captured the village of Ovillers but at great cost in human life to those units involved, which included 8th Royal Fusiliers of 36 Brigade. Two days later 36 Brigade moved back from the front line for a period of rest, training and reorganisation in Corps reserve at Bus-les-Artois. They returned to the front line, further north on the Somme battlefield at Auchonvillers on 20th July. The Battalion Diary entry for 23rd July reports that it was a quiet start to the day but that at 8pm, there was a bombardment of their positions by trench mortars. No mention of any casualties is made which is somewhat strange for among their ranks of 8th Royal Fusiliers, fourteen men from London, including Frederick Merritt,  were killed that day as well as others who were not from London. There may well be another explanation for their deaths.

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