Saturday 1st July 1916

Daylight. Intense bombardment by our own guns. Then we attacked in a smoke cloud reaching the 3rd German line, where we hung on ‘till the afternoon. ‘B’ Company, who were supposed to follow us up, never got through the barrage. We were gradually driven back by German bombers to their original front line, where we again made a stand until about 8.30 pm. Then, as our flanks had gone, the remnant of the Battalion made the best of their way back over ‘no man’s land’, under a hail of machine gun fire.

On this day 15 Platoon (‘D’ Company) was as follows:-

Lt. Smith
myself
No 9 Section No 10 Section No 11 Section No 12 Section
L/Cpl Phipps Cpl Ebbetts L/Cpl Sweeting L/Cpl Burn
L/Cpl Parke Rfm Beach L/Cpl Hughes Rfm Allen
Rfm Colgate Rfm Brialey Rfm Twiddy Rfm Brady
Rfm Reeve Rfm Barber Rfm Baxter Rfm Baines
Rfm Fuller Rfm Barter Rfm Bareford Rfm Deverell
Rfm Brooks Rfm Humphries Rfm Foxley Rfm Draper
Rfm Hollingham Rfm Malin Rfm Clark Rfm Claxton
Rfm Pett Rfm Shilson Rfm Helps Rfm Thom
Rfm Doble Rfm Sanders Rfm Wood Rfm Haile
Rfm Woodhouse Rfm Williams Rfm Causby Rfm Daniel
Rfm Gregory Rfm Treadwell Rfm Seagrove Rfm Dyer
Rfm Ingram Rfm Ford Rfm Gosslin
Rfm Ridley Rfm Colvin Rfm Biddle
Rfm Theide Rfm Whatmough
Rfm Rickman
Rfm Hawkins
Rfm Herman
Rfm Fisher
Rfm Schenk

Of the original fifty-nine members of 15 Platoon, seventeen (in italics) were killed during the attack, only four of whom were recovered for burial in the Gommecourt and Hebuterne cemeteries. The remaining thirteen remain where they fell, and their names are recorded on the memorial at Thiepval. Of the forty-two who survived the day, thirteen (including Lt Smith) went on only to lose their lives during subsequent engagements and, when the war ended, only twenty-nine of the original 15 Platoon who set out together on 1st July 1916 were still alive.

Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July