The Battles of the Somme: Battle of Morval, 25 - 28 September, 1916
The days immediately following 15 September attack were marked on Fourth Army’s front by a series of minor line-adjusting operations conducted in deteriorating weather. The increasingly wet conditions delayed preparations for a renewed effort to secure the villages of Morval, Lesboeufs and Gueudecourt, unattained objectives of the Flers-Courcelette fighting. This new offensive required an advance of up to 1,500 yards on a line from Martinpuich to Combles. The ruined villages of Morval and Lesboeufs lay on XIV Corps main front of attack; immediately left, XV Corps, was to sieze Gueudecourt; III Corps was to advance on the German line north-east of Martinpuich and offer cover for XV Corps left flank.
The preliminary bombardment began at 7am on 24 September; the assault troops waiting in muddy ‘jumping-off’ trenches early next morning witnessed a barrage of unprecedented ferocity on German positions, which intensified just before zero hour. At 12.35pm on 25 September, as the creeping barrage pounded down on No Man’s Land, the infantry advanced. On XIV Corps front 5th, 6th and Guards Divisions methodically gained ground and both Morval and Lesboeufs were occupied by 3.30pm. XV Corps divisions had difficulty approaching the formidable Gird Trench and considerable disorganisation was caused by determined German resistance. It was not until early morning on 26 September that a section of Gird Trench was cleared, with the assistance of a tank, opening the way into Guedecourt village, which was taken that same evening. Earlier in the day Combles had been occupied by British and French forces. Further attacks were made by XV Corps on 27 September and the following day saw the handover of the extreme right of XIV Corps line to French forces.
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