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Thiepval village, converted by the Germans into a fortress, was originally a 1 July objective and had for nearly three months been subjected to relentless artillery bombardment and a series of major British assaults. German defenders held on tenaciously within the position's cellars, tunnels and deep dug-outs. The 'village' formed the centre of an intricate web of near impregnable field-fortifications: to the north was Schwaben Redoubt; Stuff and Zollern Redoubts were to the east, and Mouquet Farm to the south-east. These major positions were additionally supported by numerous formidable and carefully sited machine gun posts.

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