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Webmatters : Battle of the Somme: Ovillers and La Boisselle, 1st July 1916
Rough Map of Area

La Boisselle

Evening: 1st July 1916

By the evening of the first day of the Somme it was quite obvious to the commanders that pressing on with reinforcements was not going to achieve anything for the moment.

The losses had been dreadful, and in particular amongst the senior officers.

In all, III Corps had lost some 200 officers and 4,200 soldiers killed, plus over 6 000 men wounded. As the fighting died down parties were allowed to gather in the injured, for the most part unhindered by the Germans.

The percentage of casualties was higher here than anywhere else throughout the day.

The Germans had hardly been budged at all. Ovillers and La Boisselle remained resolutely in their hands as was Thiepval on the Corps’ left. Thiepval was perhaps the keyhole to unlock the Germans’ position, but which of all the other villages was the key ?

Thus the cards were dealt for the next four months as the British Army tried to force its way along the Bapaume Road and past Pozières.


Pozières would eventually fall in August to the Australians after the bloodiest battle they would fight throughout the war.

It was going to take more than a mornings work to advance those few kilometres.

Many of those who never made it further than the first day lie in Ovillers Military Cemetery.

 

Memorials

There are three memorials in La Boisselle.

The Tyneside Memorial Bench

The most visible from the main road is that of the Tyneside Scottish and Irish, whose Memorial is situated at the entrance to the village of La Boisselle.

The Tyneside Memorial Seat which was unveiled by Maréchal Foch and was the first regimental memorial erected on the road. It commemorates both the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish Brigades in their struggle to capture the ground either side of La Boisselle.

The inscription on the Tyneside Memorial Bench

If the bushes are not too overgrown there is a short inscription on the rear of the monument which explains how the land has been donated by the commune to the honour and memory of the men from the two brigades.

Just across to your right and in the field (Which is private) you can easily make out the remains of the Glory Hole.

Detail from the Tyneside Memorial Bench

Detail from the bench

 

The 34th Division Memorial at La Boisselle

The 34th Division Memorial

The 19th Division Memorial at La Boisselle

There are two Divisional Memorials within the Village.

In the village itself and in front of the church is a memorial to the 19th Division who managed to take La Boisselle from the Germans on 4th July 1916. If you look you will see the Divisional emblem — a butterfly — marked on the cross.

The 34th Division’s Memorial can be found on the road to Contalmaison.

Taking the form of Victory (Sadly, no longer) holding aloft a laurel wreath, it can be easily missed coming out of the village.

It sits tight in and set back, alongside the hedge on the left hand side as you leave the village. Look for the water tower as a marker.

 

Lochnagar Crater

The Lochnagar Crater

Just on the outskirts of the village and very well signposted is the Lochnagar Crater, saved for posterity by an Englishman called Richard Dunning. A short ceremony is held here every 1st July at 0730 hours. It attracts quite a crowd and is probably the most personal of all the commemorations which take place that day.