' Stockport Soldiers who died 1914 - 1918 - Battle Report
Battle of the Somme
Date: 25 September 1916
Regiment: 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment

The Battle of the Somme had been raging since 1 July. The Battalion had not been called on to go into action on the first day but had fought in major attacks since then. The last time was on 3 September. Since the Battle started, British troops had managed to advance approximately 10 kilometres in a series of attacks every few days. 

The attack ordered for 25 September would involve the Cheshires and other battalions crossing 600 yards of No Man's Land to the German front line and onwards to capture the village of Morval.

On 24 September, the Cheshires moved from bivouacs at Oxford Copse, Maricourt to assembly positions in a recently captured German trench at a place known as the Quadrilateral. Two companies would lead the attack and two would be in support.

The plan was for a phased attack in this sector. Men of the Norfolk and Bedfordshire regiments would lead the assault on the German front and support lines. The Cheshires and Warwicks would then push through to capture the actual village. Zero hour for the Norfolks was 12.35pm and they attacked successfully, as did the Bedfords. The Cheshires followed, reaching the eastern edge of Morval by 2.42pm and had secured the village by 2.55.  Patrols then went out to protect their flanks and the men dug-in to consolidate. Casualties had not been heavy at this stage.

The Battalion's War Diary records that "Except for fairly heavy shelling by the Germans, the situation was, under the circumstances, quiet. A tremendous number of prisoners were taken and these kept coming in all evening and the reports from Companies showed that the Germans in front were entirely disorganised. In the evening and throughout the night, the Germans shelled Morval very heavily."

During the day, William Cope, John Gregory, Henry Moore and Benjamin Weaver were killed. None has a known grave and were probably killed by the evening's shelling. 

The War Diary continues, for the following day, "The morning was fine. The enemy kept up a steady bombardment on the trenches we had consolidated and it was during this we suffered heavily and not during the attack itself." Arrangements were put in place to relieve the Cheshires during the evening "While they were waiting for it to be dark enough, an intense bombardment started on the part of the Germans followed by all our guns opening on their barrage lines". A German counter-attack was expected but it proved to be a false alarm. The Cheshires were finally relieved at 10.30pm and, as they were moving away, the enemy bombarded them with gas shells and the men had to put on respirators. Charles Chadwick and Frederick Taylor were killed by shellfire during the day. Sometime in the previous 48 hours, Gordon Currie was fatally wounded and died, on 26 September, at a Casualty Clearing Station.

The attack by the whole Brigade had been a success. The official report on the action concluded "The spirit of everybody trying to help and everybody working for the main good. May this spirit remain in the Brigade; if it does the Brigade will always be second to none in the Army."

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