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First Name: Harry James Last Name: DAWS
Date of Death: 08/08/1918 Lived/Born In: Gunnersbury
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Surrey (Queens)6
Memorial Site:

Current Information:


35, Cambridge Road, Gunnersbury

Ville-sur-Ancre Communal Cemetery, France


After having been on the defensive since March 1918, by August of that year the Allies were ready to move to the attack and on 8th August, The Battle of Amiens began, a battle that marked the beginning of what came to be known as the Hundred Day Offensive that culminated in the collapse of the German army and the end of the war. British, Australian and Canadian troops attacked on a wide front that stretched about eighteen miles from Morlancourt, north of the River Somme to the Amiens-Roye road while the French launched their own offensive to the south in the Battle of Montdidier. At 4.20am  on 8th August, aided by early morning mist and backed by 900 guns, 600 tanks and 2000 aircraft the assault was unleashed on the unsuspecting Germans many of whom surrendered straight away. Their resistance stiffened as the day progressed but despite this the Allied forces advanced about 7 miles by nightfall and further, but far less spectacular, gains were made over the next three days until the battle ended on 11th August. Losses had been enormous on both sides. British, Australian and Canadian casualties amounted to 19,000 but the Germans lost 26,000, including 12,000 taken prisoner, an awful blow that prompted Ludendorff, the German supremo, to call it the ‘Black Day’ of the German Army.

III Corps, north of the Somme had the task of protecting the flank of the Australians, keeping pace with their advance and securing the high ground overlooking the passages of the Somme. They attacked from right to left with 58th, 18th and 12th Divisions but despite having a more modest role than the Australians and Canadians they were unable to achieve the same measure of progress as them and on the opening day of the battle only managed to reach their first objective. This was due to the difficulty of the ground over which they attacked and the fact that they had all been heavily involved in the earlier battles of 1918 which meant that not only was there a shortage of officers and NCOs but that their ranks were filled with young, inexperienced recruits. To add to their problems, on the night of 7/8th August, before the attack began, this area, north of the Somme was subjected to heavy enemy shelling, including many gas shells, which not only caused casualties but hindered their progress to their starting lines as well.

The main attack in III Corps sector on 8th August was made by 58th and 18th Divisions and for the reasons stated above was only partially successful. The first objective was reached but all efforts to reach the second objective resulted in failure. To the north of it a subsidiary attack was made by 12th Division and achieved all that was asked of it, advancing nearly 1,000 yards. It was carried out by 35 Brigade at 6.20am, two hours after the main attack and was made by the 1st Cambridgeshire, 7th Norfolk and 9th Essex battalions and to deal with a possible counter attack the 6th Royal West Surrey (Queens) battalion from 37 Brigade was attached. 7th Norfolk and 9th Essex, in the centre and on the left of the advance, despite being hampered by the early morning mist and the necessity of having to wear their gas masks, reached their objectives and captured over 300 of the enemy. On the right the first two companies of 1st Cambridge met strong resistance and suffered many casualties when the enemy moved forward to meet them, throwing stick bombs and forcing them to go to ground. It was not until shortly after noon after the other two companies had been brought up that the attack was renewed and the objectives, along with a further 300 prisoners, were taken. During the day 6th Queens moved forward in close support of the attacking battalions of 35 Brigade and although not directly involved in the fight they sustained over ten casualties, mostly from shell fire. One of these was Harry Daws.

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