John Copse

John Copse from the direction of Serre. April 2004

Zday - 1 July         Map 57D NE

The 48th Division held the section of the front line from John Copse to Puisieux Road.  From North to south they were 7th, 1/5th and 6th.  The task of the 1/5th was to hold the trenches whilst the 7th attacked SERRE and the 6th attacked GOMMECOURT.

Intensive artillery bombardment began at 6.35am.  Smoke candles were let off at 7.20am (there had been several days of training with these beforehand) and at 7.30am the main attack began.

The attack went on all day and was initially successful but by nightfall they had been driven back.

One member of the Battalion was killed and one went missing.  Twenty three others were wounded.  A total of five men had died by the end of the first week.

The Battalion was relieved in the trenches on 5th July and moved to Bivouacs.

Extract from war diary

Trenches K 17 c.30.35 -          

K 17.a.1.8    1   The day of attack - Z day.  The front held by the 48th Division extended from JOHN COPSE K 23 d 3.3 to PUISIEUX ROAD K.17.a.1.8.  The 7  R War R on the right and the 5 R War R on the left.  Our role was to hold the trenches whilst the divisions on our right and left advanced on SERRE and GOMMECOURT respectively.  Our ultimate role depending on the line taken upto by these other Divisions.  The 31 Div were on our right and the 56 Div were on our left.  The time for launching the attack (zero) was 7.30am  65 minutes before zero the intense bombardment commenced and 10 minutes before zero smoke candles and P bombs were let off from our front line.  And under cover of this screen the advance began.  These attacks were successful but by the end of the day all troops on the Corps front were driven back to their own lines again.  The enemy barraged our trenches at intervals throughout the day.  The night was quiet.

Casualties - 1 OR killed,  1 OR missing,  Capt W C C GElL (at duty), 2 Lt P A GROVE, 2 Lt H H PINE and 21 ORs (5 at duty) wounded.

Extract from the account of the Defence of Gommecourt 1st July 1916 by Major C E Carrington  M C   5/R Warwick

The smoke bombs had long smouldered out and the gun fire had died down, leaving the battlefield apparently empty and almost silent under a sultry clouded sky, when the observers of the 5th R .Warwick Regiment, south of Hebuterne, saw Tauscher's columns crossing the plain from Buquoy and assembling in the dead ground near point 147.  This was reported (by the author personally by telephone) to the VIII. Corps artillery in vain.  The target was not in their area.  A message was sent (as above) to the London Scottish who were unfortunately unable to get the VII Corps guns to fire, for a similar reason.  While the two artillery groups disputed over their boundary Tauscher's men passed on undisturbed except by desultory rifle fire at 1,500 yards range, and entered the head of the C.T's in safety.  Their own artillery had no such scruples. A very severe bombardment of the English jumping off lines marked their approach.  At the head of each column observers were seen controlling the fire by coloured screens showing the limits of each advanced.  Though the assault was made by bombers working down the trenches, the bombing parties were covered by snipers shooting over the top.

In an hour and twenty minutes (9.40 - 11 a.m.) Tauscher had assembled his men and marched two miles, from `Bucquoy to point 147; in an hour and a half more (11-12.30) he had made his dispositions and moved 1,000 yards through battered trenches.  11th Coy.  (Stolper) attacked through Roth;  12th Coy.  (Winkleann) through Lehmann; 9th Coy. remained in 2nd Switch line in reserve.  Capt. Brockmann advancing down Süd trench had already made a breach in the English defence.