' Stockport Soldiers who died 1914 - 1918 - Battle Report
 
           
 
Devil’s Wood – the Somme
Date: 27 July 1916
Regiment: 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1st July and there had been terrible casualties on the first day with minimal success on most of the battlefield. In the south, however, all the objectives had been captured but the attack had now stalled. From the middle of the month, attacks were launched on the German line between Delville Wood and High Wood in order to capture the village of Longueval. The Tommies knew the place as Devil's Wood.

On 27th July, the main attack was undertaken by the Norfolk and Bedfordshire regiments, starting at 7.10am. At 8.38, the Cheshires advanced on a German strongpoint which was their main objective

The regimental history records "While the main attack was going on, the 1st Battalion carried out a separate operation on a German strong point about the existence of which some doubt reigned. We were really attacking a map reference. The attack was made in three parties, under 2nd Lieutenants Prout, Duckworth and Barthelemy. There was some misunderstanding about the timing of the covering barrage, in spite of which Prout's and Duckworth's parties made gallant attempts to reach their objectives. They were met by cross fire from machine guns at High Wood and Longueval which our artillery had not reached. Nearly all the men were killed and both officers. None were ever seen again. A party sent in to support was forced to retire. Colonel Clarke was wounded. Although the Battalion objective was not reached, an advanced post, protecting the left flank, was established. Heavy fighting continued all day and, by evening, all communications were broken by the intensity of the hostile fire."

Cephas Howard, Percy Jinks and Ernest Nancarrow were killed, presumably in the attack on the strong point, as none as a known grave. Joe Redfern died of wounds the next day and is buried in a cemetery overlooking the battle area.

   
           
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