Battle of Le Transloy
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|Battle of Le Transloy|
|Part of the Battle of the Somme of World War I|
British soldiers moving a 60 pounder gun into position at Bazentin-le-Petit
|British Empire||German Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
With the successful conclusion of the preceding Battle of Morval at the end of September, the Fourth Army of Lieutenant General Henry Rawlinson had finally captured the third line of German defences on the Somme. Unfortunately, while there had only been three lines at the start of the Somme battle in July, the Germans had not been idle during the slow Allied advance and Rawlinson's army was now confronted by a fourth line of defences along the Transloy ridge beyond which fifth and sixth lines were under construction. The prospect of a breakthrough was as distant as ever.
Nevertheless, the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, still had plans to achieve a breakthrough involving his three armies on the Somme; the Fourth Army in the south, the Reserve Army (later the Fifth Army) in the centre and the Third Army of General Edmund Allenby in the north. The first step was the capture of the Transloy line by the Fourth Army.
The battle, which opened on 1 October, began well with the capture of Eaucourt L'Abbaye by the 47th (1/2nd London) Division as well as an advance along the Albert-Bapaume road towards Le Sars. The advance was resumed on 7 October and Le Sars was taken by the British 23rd Division but progress along the Canadian lines stalled. In XIV Corps the 56th Division attacked Hazy, Dewdrop and Spectrum Trenches in the afternoon but was forced back but nightfall and the Germans reoccupied Rainy Trench which had been left empty. In III Corps the 47th Division made a failed attempt to take Stag Trench but was able to get posts onto the Eaucourt l'Abbaye–Warlencourt road, connecting with the 23rd Division which had attacked Flers Trench (Flers Riegel) at dawn and established a post 750 yards (690 m) north-west of Le Sars.
The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the battlefield, which had been pummelled to dust by relentless artillery bombardment over the preceding three months, turned into a quagmire. Rawlinson mounted further attacks on 12 October including the Newfoundlanders at Gueudecourt, 18 October and 23 October but there was little chance of a significant gain.
The last throe (which by now included the Australian forces of the I ANZAC Corps), came on 5 November despite protests from some corps commanders who believed continued attacks to be futile.
The French Tenth Army[Note 1] attacked again 10–21 October and captured woods near Chaulnes. The line was advanced towards Pressoir, Ablaincourt and Fresnes on a front from Chaulnes 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the north-east. In the Sixth Army, XXXIII Corps astride the Somme, attacked on the south bank on 18 October to counter German mining and improve the line La Maisonnette–Biaches, although a German counter-attack on 21 October regained some ground. On 29 October XXXIII Corps was pushed out of La Maisonnette at the end of the salient south-east of Biaches. A French attempt to retake La Maisonnette was delayed and eventually cancelled.
The 1917 battles of Passchendaele have become synonymous with mud and misery but according to the Australian official historian, Charles Bean, the conditions on the Somme in November were "the worst ever known by the First A.I.F."
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment's participation in the Battle of Le Transloy is commemorated with the Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial. The memorial marks the place where the Newfoundlanders returned to the Somme in early October after heavy losses four months earlier in the 1 July attack at Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The rebuilt Newfoundland Battalion played a decisive role in the capture of a German strong-point named Hilt Trench, northeast of Gueudecourt village. The memorial also marks the furthest point of advance that any British unit made from the original front lines during the Somme offensive.
- All military units after the first one mentioned are French unless specified.
- McCarthy,, C (1993). The Somme: The Day-by-Day Account (Arms & Armour Press 1995 ed.). London: Weidenfeld Military. ISBN 1-85409-330-4.
- Miles, W (1938). Military Operations France and Belgium, 1916, 2nd july 1916 to the end of the battles of the Somme (Battery Press 1992 ed.). London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-901627-76-3.
- "Rifle Brigade medals". Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- Marden, T.O. (1920). "A Short History of the 6th Division August 1914 – March 1919" (BiblioBazaar 2008 ed.). London: Hugh Rees. ISBN 1-43753-311-6. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- Stewart, H (1921). The New Zealand Division 1916 – 1919: A Popular History based on Official Records. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Le Transloy.|
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission. "Le Transloy". Retrieved 5 January 2013.