Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916

The battle of Ginchy was part of the first battle of the Somme (1 July-18 November 1916). It was launched in advance of the main September offensive (battle of Flers-Courcelette), to push the British front line nearer to the main German defences, which ran to the north of the village.

The village was to be attacked by the 16th Division of XIV Corps, commanded by Major-General Hickie. Ginchy itself was to be attacked by the four battalions of the 48th Brigade (Brigadier-General Ramsey), supported by two battalions from the 49th. It was part of a wider attack that also included the 49th Brigade, to the right and elements from V Corps to the left, but the attack on Ginchy was the only one to make progress.

Zero hour for the attack was set at 4.45pm on 9 September. At the last minute orders were dispatched delaying the attack for two minutes to allow for a final intense bombardment of the German lines, but only the 47th Brigade received the order in time. The 48th Brigade launched its attack on time, and was hit by German counter battery fire.

37th Brigade attacked at 4.47 pm. Its attack was immediately halted by German machine gun fire from their front line trenches, left intact by the British bombardment, which had struck the second line instead.

Ginchy was part of the line held by the I./19th Bavarian infantry. The attack of the 48th Brigade rolled up one company in the middle of the Bavarian line, and allowed the brigade to occupy Ginchy within an hour of zero-hour. On either side of the village the German lines held, and the British salient in Ginchy was subjected to an unsuccessful counterattack by II./19th Bavarians.

The 48th Brigade captured 200 prisoners during the advance into Ginchy, but suffered heavily casualties during the fight, amongst them two of the six battalion commanders, Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. Dalzell-Walton of 8/ Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Captain W. J. Murphy of 9/ Royal Dublin Fusiliers. A series of further battles would soon push the front line away from the village.  Despite the popular image of the battle of the Somme as a total failure, the battle of Flers-Courcelette was actually a minor success, although an expensive one.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 September 2007), Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_ginchy.html

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