Regina Trench

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Regina Trench
Part of the Battle of the Somme, First World War
Map of the Battle of the Somme, 1916.svg
Battle of the Somme 1 July – 18 November 1916
Date 1916
Location Picardy, France
50°04′18″N 02°46′53″E / 50.07167°N 2.78139°E / 50.07167; 2.78139Coordinates: 50°04′18″N 02°46′53″E / 50.07167°N 2.78139°E / 50.07167; 2.78139
Result British victory
Belligerents
 British Empire  Germany
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Douglas Haig
United Kingdom Henry Rawlinson
German Empire Fritz von Below

Regina Trench (Staufen Riegel) was a German trench dug along a ridge running from north-west of the village of Le Sars, south-west to Stuff Redoubt (Staufenfeste), close to the German fortifications at Thiepval on the Somme battlefield. It was the longest such trench on the German front during the First World War. Attacked several times during the Battle of the Ancre Heights, the 5th Canadian Brigade briefly controlled a section of the trench on 1 October but were repulsed by counter attacks. An attack on 8 October by the 1st and 3rd Canadian Divisions on Regina Trench also failed; on 21 October the 4th Canadian Division attacked the trench as the 18th, 25th and 39th divisions attacked the western part of the trench, (known as "Stuff Trench") and briefly gained footholds but were again pushed out by German counter-attacks.[1]

Action[edit]

After two months of attacks and constant shelling the trench was taken by a night attack on 10/11 November by the 4th Canadian Division. The 46th (S. Saskatchewan) and 47th (Br. Columbia) battalions of the 10th Brigade, with a company of the 102nd Battalion, crept close to the line and attacked eight minutes after the barrage lifted, surprising the German garrison and taking 87 prisoners and four machine-guns, for a loss of 200 casualties; several German counter-attacks were defeated.[2][Note 1]

Casualties[edit]

Losses in the 2nd Canadian Division 1 September – 4 October were 6,530.[3] Casualties of the 3rd Canadian Division 27 September – 14 October were 2,969.[4] The 18th Division lost 3,344 casualties 26 September – 5 October.[5] Canadian Corps casualties on 8 October were 1,364.[6] When the Canadian Corps was relieved, its casualties during the Battle of the Somme were 24,029, roughly 24% of the forces involved.[7]

Commemoration[edit]

Regina Trench Cemetery[edit]

Regina Trench Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery situated astride the location of the infamous trench and contains 2,279 burials and commemorations of men killed at or near the trenchline during the First World War. 1,680 of the men are identified as British, 564 Canadian, 35 Australian, one American airman and 1,077 burials of unknown soldiers, with special memorials to 14 casualties believed to be buried among them. Most of the men buried at Regina Trench fell in battle between October 1916 and February 1917 and the original portion of the cemetery (now Plot II, Rows A to D) was established during the winter of 1916–1917. After the armistice in 1918 the Regina Trench location was selected as a "concentration cemetery" with mortal remains brought in from scattered graves and small battlefield cemeteries surrounding the nearby villages of Courcelette, Grandcourt and Miraumont. Unlike many CWGC cemeteries where men are laid one-to-a-grave, many of the graves contain more than one burial and where two names are shown on the one headstone, it is necessary to count the individual names in order to find the correct grave location.[8] The CWGC website states that Regina Trench Cemetery is located in Grandcourt but this is somewhat misleading because while it is located between Grandcourt and Courcelette it is most easily reached by a rough road that runs approximately 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) northwest of Courcelette village.[8][9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The capture of the trench may have been a formality, as in places British shelling had reduced the trench to a shallow ditch in the chalky soil.[1]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Miles 1938, pp. 463–464.
  2. ^ Miles 1938, p. 465.
  3. ^ Miles 1938, p. 450.
  4. ^ Miles 1938, p. 452.
  5. ^ Miles 1938, p. 451.
  6. ^ Nicholson 1962, p. 186.
  7. ^ Rawling 1992, p. 81.
  8. ^ a b CWGC 2013.
  9. ^ Gliddon 1987, p. 198.

References[edit]

Books
  • Gliddon, G. (1987). When the Barrage Lifts: A Topographical History and Commentary on the Battle of the Somme 1916. Norwich: Gliddon Books. ISBN 0-947893-02-4. 
  • Miles, W. (1938). Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1916. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. II 2nd July 1916 to the End of the Battles of the Somme (IWM & Battery Press 1992 ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 0-90162-776-3. 
  • Nicholson, G. W. L. (1962). "The Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914–1919". Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War. Ottawa: Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationary. OCLC 557523890. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  • Rawling, B. (1992). Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914–1918. London: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6002-1. 
Websites

External links[edit]