1 July 1916 – Jumping off from La Boisselle – The Worst Part of the Worst Day

Eight waves jumped off from trenches on the edge of La Boisselle, along the road to Bapaume, across the fields aiming for High Wood and following the contours of Sausage Valley on the right and Mash Valley on the left (parallel to the modern road). In one small sector, the Tyneside Irish, Scottish as part of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the 10th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment (the Grimsby Chums) made a dash for the newly blown crater at Lochnagar. This enormous crater was blown at 0728, two minutes before zero hour. This incredible construction lies uphill from La Boisselle and it is possible to traverse the road splitting No Mans Land in half. Here, up to 6,000 bodies may still lie buried from the Allies and probably the same number of Germans. The carnage of the machine gun and shelling was felt here too, battalions walking towards the enemy positions being cut down in their literally thousands. William witnessed this sight in the second wave.

Nomansland looking back to La Boisselle start lines

No Man’s Land back towards the Tara/Usna lines and the jumping off positions for 1 July.

This picture above shows the view from the middle of No Man’s Land back to the start lines at La Boisselle, about 300 yards and slightly downhill. The blown crater was visible from the start lines and is directly behind this picture. The dash up the slope would still have taken some minutes to achieve. Enough time for some limited defence to be mounted by the bewildered Germans. Some mine debris landed back in the village.

Nomansland looking up to Lochnagar Crater - dense casualties

No Man’s Land towards the objective of the Lochnagar Crater

This view is in the opposite direction towards the initial crater objective. The ground slopes gently upwards today, but would have been a mess of shell holes, wire and debris and for subsequent waves, the dead and dying, wounded and damaged. This would have sapped courage and morale, but seven further waves went over the top. The Grimsbys reached the crater’s edge, held it and pressed on, at least initially.

Lochnagar Crater looking back towards La Boiselle

The crater of Lochnagar, blown at 0728. The actual crater is just in front of the actual front line, the engineers getting close to the line, but not right underneath it.

Here is the crater mouth waiting for the attacking British Forces. It was impossible to drop down and climb up at the time as the sides were steep and made from newly churned soil and chalk. There would also have been debris, concrete, wire and bodies of the dead defenders. This crater was taken and held for a time, but like everything else gained bitterly on the Somme was ultimately given up in the German offensives later in the war.

34th Division at Ovillers

34th Division casualties buried at Ovillers. An unknown grave, a Tynesider and a Northumberland Fusilier lay next to an unknown soldier from the Lincolnshire Regiment.

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  1. La Boisselle on TV! | First World War Centenary Plans in Kent & Medway - May 20, 2013

    […] 1 July 2016 – Jumping off from La Boiselle – The Worst Part of the Worst Day (themadgame.com) […]

  2. Private George Nugent – Northumberland Fusiliers (3 Tyneside Scottish) | The Mad Game Trilogy by Chris Cherry - May 26, 2014

    […] on the morning of 1 July 1916, the mines detonated in two huge earthquakes (one of which was Lochnagar) at 7.28am. The Tyneside Scottish then went over the top, led by their pipers. The assault was […]

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