Battle of Pozières Ridge, 23 July-3 September 1916

The battle of Pozières Ridge, 23 July-3 September 1916 was part of the first battle of the Somme. It was the official name given to fighting between the River Ancre and the village of Bazentin le Petit, with the village of Pozières in the centre of the line. The highest ground on the Somme battlefield was just to the north of the line between the two villages. The battle was fought by elements from the Fourth Army (Rawlinson) and from the Reserve Army (Gough). In forty days of fighting the British advanced at most one mile, with most progress being made by the Reserve Army which quickly captured Pozières. This was perhaps the most static period of the entire battle – at the same time as it was fighting on  Pozières ridge the Fourth Army was also struggling to capture Delville Wood (15 July-8 August) and was making no progress east towards Guillemont.

Pozières itself was close to the front line on 23 July, and during that day most of the village was captured by the 1st Australian Division. The north east and north west corners remained in German hands for a little longer, with the north west corner secured on 25 July and the north east in Australian hands by the end of July.

At the start of August Gough’s Reserve Army was ordered to capture the German Second Position as it ran around the north of Pozières. A key target was Mouquet Farm, north west of Pozières. The village of Thiepval, further to the north west, was a longer term target. The 2nd Australian division was able to achieve part of its initial objectives. In an attack on 4 August they captured the German second line trenches north and north east of Pozières, and pushed them back a few hundred yards north west of the village. The attack to the north east had actually captured the crest of Pozières Ridge, allowing the Australians to look downhill towards the village of Courcelette. 

The remainder of August was spent attempting to expand the salient north of Pozières. The British front was slowly pushed out towards Mouquet Farm, but at the end of August it remained in German hands, while the attacks towards Thiepval failed to make any progress. The village would not be captured until the end of September. In the meantime the focus of Haig’s efforts would switch to the east, and an attack north on the front between Pozières and Delville Wood (battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15-22 September 1916), and the preliminary capture of Guillemont (3-6 September) and Ginchy (9 September).

Victoria Crosses on the Western Front - Somme 1916, 1 July 1916-13 November 1916, Paul Oldfield. Splits the story into two halves, first a series of narratives of the various stages of the battle looking at the context of how the VCs were won, and then a longer section of biographies, covering the lives of VC holders themselves as well as their families. The first half provides a readable narrative of the battle and it’s Victoria Crosses, the second half is much more of a reference work(Read Full Review)
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 September 2007), Battle of Pozières Ridge, 23 July-3 September 1916 ,

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