Battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1-20 October 1916

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The battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1-20 October 1916, was part of the first battle of the Somme. It was the last officially acknowledged battle fought by the Fourth Army (Rawlinson) although fighting continued on that front into November. The battle that was actually fought had been planned by Rawlinson to straighten out his line, by capturing Eaucourt l’Abbaye and the Flers line of defences as far as the village of Le Sars. At the same time Haig was planning a major offensive timed for the middle of the month in which the Fourth Army was to attack towards La Transloy, Beaulencourt and Irles.

The attack of 1 October was made by III Corps, with support from one division from XV Corps. The bombardment began at 7 a.m. on 1 October, along the entire Fourth Army front. At 3.15 the infantry went in.

On the right the 2nd New Zealand Brigade attacked with its left wing, wheeling around its right flank, to bring it into line with the advance of III Corps. The New Zealanders ran into machine gun fire, and suffered heavy losses, but captured their targets for the day.

To their left was the 141st Brigade of the 47th Division. Their attack ran into machine gun fire, and came to a halt. The two right hand battalions were then helped out by a pair of tanks that came along the line from right to left, allowing them to capture their objectives. Close to Eaucourt l’Abbaye, the tanks were ditched, and the leftmost battalion (the 1/17th London (Poplar and Stepney) Regiment), was unable to take its objectives. The next morning the 1/23rd London Regiment attacked on the same front, but was repulsed after suffering 170 casualties. Finally, at noon on 3 October patrols discovered that the Germans had abandoned the exposed segment of trench, and it was occupied

To their left was the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division. On 1 October they captured the Flers Trench by 9.30 pm, despite being held up by the failure on their right. Finally, the 70th Brigade of the 23rd Division ran into stiff resistance but eventually pushed the Germans back and joined up with the Canadians on their left.

On 7 October XIV corps made its own attack further to the east (12th, 20th and 56th Divisions). Only the 20th Division made progress on this front, and much of the fighting later in the month was dedicated to expanding this salient. On the same day III corps made another attack, and again only one division, this time the 23rd, made any progress, capturing Le Sars. Again, the rest of the month was spent on supporting this advance, creating a new smoother front line.

Although the battle officially ended on 18 October, another attack was made on 5 November, but without success. This final effort on the right had been typical of the later phases of the battle. A limited objective had been set, and part of it had been met. Later follow-up attacks had not been as successful, but the Germans had eventually been forced back a small distance. The autumn weather now intervened, and on 18 November the battle of the Somme came to an end.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 September 2007), Battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1-20 October 1916 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_transloy_ridges.html

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