The Battles of the Somme: Battle of Bazentin Ridge, 14-17 July 1916.
Fourth Army planning for a major breakthrough attack on the German second position in the southern sector of the battlefield began as early as 8 July, when it was agreed that a dawn assault should be made on the line from Longueval to Bazentin-le-Petit.
Artillery bombardments began on 11 July and, based on XV Corps report on wire cutting requirements, the day of attack was set for 14 July. In massive contrast to operations on 1 July, great emphasis was placed on the element of surprise. To this end the assaulting troops (brigades of 9th and 3rd Divisions of XIII Corps, and 7th and 21st Divisions of XV Corps) were to assemble after midnight in the darkness of No Man's Land and form up within 500 yards of the German line. With great skill the undetected deployment of the attacking force was completed by 3am. An intense bombardment began at 3.20 which, precisely five minutes later, lifted as near 22,000 British infantry advanced through the light mist towards the enemy trenches. The German defenders, surprised by the shortness of the bombardment and proximity of the attacking waves, gave way and leading British battalions quickly reached the front line and pressed on beyond.
The operation was a stunning success resulting in the capture of the German second position on a front of 6,000 yards. For a time the important position of High Wood remained open to occupation but delays in getting the cavalry forward meant that this opportunity was lost. Fighting for Longueval village continued after 17 July and was intimately connected with the long struggle for Delville Wood.
Campaign map Army structure Terminology