My great uncle Jack Walker fought on The Somme with 12th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. I’ve been reading the battalion diary which often makes for upsetting reading. In August 1916 they were part of the Allies’ attempts to capture the village of Guillemont. You get the sense that the battle simply involved the same useless attacks over the same ground with the same results, day after day.
Battalion War Diary entry:
Location: Trenches between Delville Wood and Guillemont.
A warm day day. Sent 1 officer and 50 men to join RE (Royal Engineers ?) for consolidation work during attack about to be made on Guillemont. Found carrying party of 4 officers and 220 Other Ranks for carrying bombs and SAA (Small Arms Ammunition) to front line. Moved to Bernafay Wood at 11.30am. An attack on Guillemont by the 17th and 73rd Brigades with Division ? on left and 3rd Division on left in conjunction with the French took place at 4.30pm. The attack on Machine Gun House and Railway Station + trenches in the immediate vicinity was carried out by the 8th Buffs and 3rd RB (Rifle Brigade) with 1st Royal Fusiliers in close support and ourselves in reserve. The objectives were all taken by our Brigade and consolidated but the attack in general was held up by a strong point in front of the 73rd Brigade. The division lost about 35 officers and 1200 Other Ranks in casualties.
The following messages were received after the attack was over.
Received from GOC (General Officer Commanding?) 17th IB: “The corps commander has asked me to convey to troops his extreme appreciation of gallant conduct of troops and satisfaction of success gained. We have our teeth into Guillemont and must grip like Bulldogs to what we have.”
The following wire received from 17th IB: “The BGC wishes to congratulate units on their brilliant success of yesterday and wishes all ranks to know how pleased he is.”
N0 4 company under Captain Anderson proceeded to front line after dark and dug CT (communication trench) from our old line to position taken.
Casualties : Wounded 9 Other Ranks. Wounded (shell shock) 4. Other Ranks: Killed 1 OR.
(Despite the positive messages from HQ, the fighting for Guillemont would continue into early September) By now the battlefield and No Man’s Land were littered with unburied corpses putrefying in the sun. )