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Thiepval Memorial Thiepval Memorial
First Name: Robert George Last Name: PRICE
Date of Death: 01/07/1916 Lived/Born In: Silvertown
Rank: Private Unit: Essex10
Memorial Site: 1. Silvertown, Brick Lane Music Hall Memorial 2. Thiepval Memorial

Current Information:

Age-28

39, Cranbrook Road, West Silvertown


The opening day of the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916

This was a disastrous day for the British Army in France. Eleven divisions of Fourth Army attacked along a 15 mile front from Maricourt to Serre. Two further divisions of Third Army launched a diversionary attack just to the north of Serre at Gommecourt. For a week beforehand the British artillery pounded the German trenches but the Germans had been there for a long time and they had constructed deep, concrete reinforced shelters beneath their trenches and many survived the bombardment. The troops went over the top at 7.30 am but even before they had left their overcrowded trenches, many had been killed or maimed by German artillery. The Germans knew that they were coming. Once in No-Man’s-Land the artillery continued to take its toll and then the machine guns opened up on the advancing British infantry. They fell in their thousands and the attack came to a standstill almost everywhere. Survivors sought cover wherever they could find it and at night they crawled back to their own lines, often dragging a wounded soldier with them. Only in the south were any advances made with the attack on Fricourt and Mametz. Over 19,000 British soldiers were killed on this day, including 2,500 from London.

On 1st July, 18th Division took part in a successful attack on Montauban at the southern end of the line. 53 Brigade attacked with 8th Norfolk and 6th Royal Berkshire. The 10th Essex and 8th Suffolk battalions were in support and reserve respectively and at first provided carrying parties. At 7.50 am Pommiers Trench was occupied but in front now stood the German strong point ‘The Loop’ and the equally formidable Pommiers Redoubt and they both had to be dealt with.  A company of 10th Essex was sent up to reinforce this attack.  Bombing squads and Lewis guns were sent towards ‘The Loop’, but the trench was blocked.  A strong party with a Stokes gun moved up Pommiers Lane towards Pommiers Redoubt but again the trench was blocked.  At 8.30am, 11th Royal Fusiliers, 7th Bedfordshire and 10th Essex again advanced against the well-defended Pommiers Redoubt with the help of a creeping barrage from the artillery and again these frontal attacks failed in the face of heavy German machine gun and rifle fire. So they attacked from the flanks instead and after fierce hand to hand fighting which went on for an hour, the position was won. At 3.30 pm, a bombing party of 10th Essex, working from Pommiers Redoubt, cleared 400 yards of Montauban Alley as far as White Trench where they consolidated their position. Among the many casualties resulting from the fighting on 1st July was Robert Price.

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