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Webmatters : The mine at the Hawthorn Ridge: 1st July 1916
Rough Map of Area

Hawthorn Ridge

The Mine — 1st July 1916

The ridge was the scene of the most northerly of the mines detonated on 1st July 1916 — the first day of the Somme.

It lies just to the west of the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel and its position can be viewed quite easily from two points.

If you have come from the Newfoundland Park, turn left as you leave the car park towards Auchonvillers. Look along the ridge to your right and you will see the small Hawthorn Ridge Cemetery No 1. There is a farm lane that leads up towards it with a CWGC signpost.

In November the fields were well ploughed and soft enough to put me off even considering trying to get across to the cemetery (for which there is not the customary path).

You do however get a good view of the Newfoundland Park and a feel for where the German line ran on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

 

La Grande Ferme on the Schwaben Redoubt and Thiepval Memorial

La Grande Ferme on the Schwaben Redoubt and
Thiepval Memorial on the Leipzig Redoubt
In the trees in the foreground is the Newfoundland Park

When you look across these fields towards the horizon it is remarkably deceiving. In many places it all appears so flat. Yet if you look past the cemetery you can just about make out Beaumont-Hamel down in the valley.

 

Looking towards Hawthorn Ridge Cemetery No 1

Looking towards the cemetery the spire of Beaumont-Hamel’s church can just be seen down in the valley

It would take the British five months to cross that strip of land.

 

An alternative position

The crater is just behind the cemetery on the right of the track. It is so overgrown you have little chance of either getting into it, or much point in doing so either.

Looking down on the Sunken Road with Redan Ridge on the horizon

Looking down on the Sunken Road with Redan Ridge on the horizon

A more interesting place to look at the ridge is to continue into Auchonvillers and then follow the new road to Beaumont-Hamel. The crater is very prominent on the ridge to your right near a lane known as the Sunken Road.

Before you leave here though, look at the view in front of you.

The large white cross in the valley is a memorial to the 1/8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who would conquer the ground in November 1916.

It marks the entrance to the Sunken Road where men of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers were waiting to attack on 1st July 1916.

Just to the right in the field (The yellow field in the photo) is the Beaumont-Hamel Military Cemetery where many of their soldiers now lie.

The ridge was known as Redan Ridge and Serre is just on the other side of it.

 

Detonating the mine

The decision to blow the mine here at Hawthorn Ridge ten minutes before Zero Hour and eight minutes before the other mines, was one that was taken at high command.

I still think it was the wrong decision, but the Divisional Commander had his reasons.