Battle of Mouquet Farm
The Battle of Mouquet Farm, also known as the Fighting for Mouquet Farm (23 July – 3 September 1916) was part of the Battle of the Somme and began during the Battle of Pozières. It began on 23 July with attacks by the Reserve Army and it was captured by the 3rd Canadian Division of the Canadian Corps on 16 September. The farm was lost to a German counter-attack, before being re-captured on 26 September, during an attack by the 11th (Northern) Division as part of the Battle of Thiepval Ridge (26–28 September), in which No. 16 Section of the 6th East Yorkshire (Pioneers), smoked out the last German defenders.
Mouquet Farm was to the right of the modern D 73 Pozières–Thiepval road, south of Grandcourt and to the south-west of Courcelette, about 1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi) north-west of the high ground near Pozières. Following the fighting that had occurred around the village earlier in the year, the decision was made by the British to gain control of the ridge beyond the village to create a gap in the German lines, behind the salient that had developed around the German-held fortress of Thiepval. By capturing Mouquet Farm, the British hoped that it would destabilise the German position and enable subsequent gains.
10 August – 3 September
During the night of 10 August, parties of the 4th Australian Division of the I Anzac Corps, attacked towards the farm and managed to establish advanced posts in the valley south of the farm and to the east. Attacks were then made from a foothold in Fabeck Graben (Fabeck Trench) to the north-east and to deepen the salient near the farm. By 22 August, the 2nd Australian Division had made several more attempts on the farm and had realised that the main defensive position was underground, where the Germans had excavated the cellars to create linked dug-outs. On 3 September, the 4th Australian Division attacked again with the 13th Brigade and captured much of the surface remains of the farm and trenches nearby, with hand-to-hand fighting in the ruins and underground. German counter-attacks repulsed the Australians except from a small part of Fabeck Graben, for a loss of 2,049 Australian casualties.
During the battle, the I Anzac Corps divisions, advanced north-west along the Pozières ridge, towards the German strong point of Mouquet Farm, with British divisions supporting on the left. The approaches to the farm were visible to German artillery observers, who directed artillery-fire on the attackers, from three sides of the salient that had developed in the lines. Many casualties were caused to the attackers as they approached the farm and in August and into September, the Australian divisions were repulsed three times from the farm.
The Canadian Corps relieved the I Anzac Corps on 5 September. The Canadians captured part of the farm on 16 September and were then repulsed by a counter-attack. By 25 September, further attacks had captured part of the farm on the surface but the Germans still held the cellars, dug-outs and tunnels beneath. The farm was captured on 26 September by the 34th Brigade of the 11th Division, in the general attack of the Battle of Thiepval Ridge. The 9th Lancashire Fusiliers bombed the exits of the underground positions and also managed to reach the second objective, at the west end of Zollern Trench, where German machine-gun nests had held up previous attacks. The 6th East Yorkshire (Pioneers) overwhelmed the last defenders with smoke grenades and took 56 prisoners.
In the fighting around Pozières and Mouquet Farm, the I Anzac Corps suffered c. 6,300 casualties. During its second period on the Somme, the 1st Australian Division lost 2,654 men, having already had 5,278 casualties in August. The 2nd Australian Division had 6,846 losses from 25 July – 7 August and 1,267 casualties from 23–29 August. From 29 July – 16 August the 4th Australian Division had 4,761 losses and 2,487 casualties from 27 August – 4 September.
Aerial photograph of Mouquet Farm and defences in June 1916 (North at top). Ruins of farmhouse buildings are rectangular area at lower centre. Trench across top right is the western end of Fabeck Graben Trench at top left heading NNW is Zollern Redoubt. From lower centre a road no longer existing runs ENE to Courcelette; road at bottom heads SE towards Pozières; road running WSW at bottom left connects with Thiepval–Pozières road. The attacks were made from south to north, British on left and Australians in centre and right
Same area in September after shelling; the original farm building area is today clear land and the farm buildings were rebuilt south of the road
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