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Thiepval Memorial, France Thiepval Memorial, France
First Name: William Anthony Last Name: JENSEN
Date of Death: 02/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Silvertown
Rank: Private Unit: Wiltshire6
Memorial Site: 1. Silvertown, Brick Lane Music Hall Memorial 2. Thiepval Memorial, France

Current Information:


25 Kempton Street, Silvertown



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.

The days immediately following the carnage of July 1st on  the Somme, had two main priorities. They were to rescue the wounded and to consolidate what gains had been made. In some cases the Germans allowed a temporary truce so that injured men could be brought back from no-man’s land, but many were not reached and they faced a lonely and anguished death.

Ovillers and La Boisselle are two small villages lying astride the Albert-Bapaume road and both were objectives on 1st July. But things did not turn out as planned on that day when despite the best efforts and enormous sacrifice of both 8th and 34th Division, neither were captured. Some of 34th Division managed to get a toe-hold in the German lines to the south of the village, including the Lochnager mine crater, and during the night 1st-2nd July the survivors of 34th Division were relieved by 19th Division. The next day, at 4pm, 6th Wiltshire and 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, both of 58 Brigade made a frontal attack onLa Boisselle, whilst at the same time the Germans were making a systematic withdrawal from the village The attackers got across no man's land and captured the German front line trench with few casualties whilst 9th Cheshire, also of 58 Brigade, attacked on the right. As the Germans recovered from the surprise, their resistance increased but they could not prevent the troops of 58 Brigade searching out and bombing their underground shelters. The area was visible from the British lines and artillery support enabled the infantry to occupy the west end of the village by 9:00 p.m. and dig in near the church. 6th Wiltshire had over 50 of their officers and men killed on this day, including William Jensen.

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