Learning Curve, The Great War
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Transcript: Source3
Official reports of the experiences of British Army units, 1 July 1916
(Catalogue ref: a. WO 95/2366, b & c. WO 95/1653)

Source 3a

July 1916.

The assembly trenches for the attack on Serre extended from MARK COPSE to MATTHEW COPSE inclusive with the 12th Battn York &Lancaster Regt on the left and the 93rd Brigade to the right. The 13th and 14th Battn York and Lancaster Regt was in support of the 11th E Lancs Regt and 12th York and Lancs Regt. The battalion was ordered to go forward in 4 waves accompanied by details from the 94th Machine Gun Company and the 12th Battalion KDYLI (Pioneers), the hour for attack being 7.30am. When the infantry advanced, heavy rifle and machine gun fire was opened from in front an enfilade from the direction of the POINT and GOMMECOURT WOOD. A heavy artillery barrage was also placed on our first line trenches. From information brought back by wounded it appears that only a few reached the enemy front line and were able to enter their trenches owing to the intensity of the machine guns.

[Copse = a group of small trees or shrubs
Battn = battalion
Regt = regiment
Details = groups of troops selected for a particular duty
Enfilade = gunfire directed along the length of a target, such as a column of troops]

Source 3b

The 2nd GORDON HIGHLANDERS after crossing "No Mans Land" came under a very heavy machine gun and rifle fire and H. E. shrapnel. The enemy in the front line was preparing to meet the assaulting columns with bombs, but so quickly were the 2nd GORDON HIGHLANDERS upon them that the defence was quite ineffective – bombs being thrown without withdrawing the pins.

Casualties were now heavy but the line pushed steadily on, with the exception of the left company which was most unfortunately held up by uncut wire.

This was the only wire on our front which had not been thoroughly cut through; every effort had been made to complete it, but it appeared to present special difficulties to the Artillery. With this exception the cutting of the wire was most thorough.

This uncut wire undoubtedly caused many casualties and greatly delayed the advance.

Source 3b

The 9th DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT had advanced at 7'27 a.m. in touch with 2nd BORDER REGIMENT, but on reaching our front line in the vicinity of MANSEL COPSE came under a heavy artillery and machine gun barrage, and suffered severely. The first two lines of this battalion advanced in extended order with the 3rd line in small columns.

The battalion moved on steadily at first, but the leading companies losing all their officers soon after entering the hostile trenches, and having to pass over trenches completely wrecked beyond recognition by shell fire, became somewhat disorganized and remained in the vicinity of TIRPITZ Trench and SHRINE ALLEY, collected in small parties, and engaging the enemy in front of and behind them wherever met. They undoubtedly did great service in keeping the enemy engaged, and in clearing the trenches, and sent back many prisoners. They did not however succeed in getting into touch with the battalions on their right and left, and failed to carry out the task of clearing the "dug-outs" in the wooded bank West of the Railway.

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