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The fortress village of Serre had been unsuccessfully attacked on 1 July by units of the 31st Division - who suffered grievous casualties. On 13 November the main assault on Serre was made by the 3rd Division (the left flank of which was supported by the reconstituted 31st Division now of XIII Corps); the attack failed dismally as explained by the official historian: "…the troops of the 3rd Division…lost the battle in the mud…Starting in good order, the leading battalions were soon struggling through mud which, in places, was waist-deep; and when the German wire was reached few gaps could be found in it.

By this time the rear battalions had begun to mix with the troops in front and, the barrage being lost, groups of men forced their way into the German trenches in the face of an alert enemy, to carry on the fight as best they could." 'Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1916', Vol II, Captain Wilfrid Miles, 1938, p.498.

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