Tuesday 26 September 1916 – We Lost 2,569
The Battle of Thiepval Ridge which will last for three days begins. At 12:35 the attack on Thiepval by the Middlesex Regiment and the Royal Fusiliers begins. Just as on 1st July it begins with an artillery bombardment but this time there is a difference. Lieutenant Colonel Frank Maxwell’s men rely on a new, artillery tactic known as ‘the creeping barrage’. This entails an artillery barrage which starts in no-man’s land and then creeps gradually over the German trenches, according to a set timetable. The British infantry follow as closely as possible the curtain of shell fire that the barrage creates. This way, they can advance with constant artillery cover making it far harder for the Germans to shoot at them. The creeping barrage tactic is successful. The Middlesex over run the first German trenches with relative ease. However, once Maxwell’s men have cleared the German forward trenches, they have to then move over open ground in order to reach the Thiepval Chateau. It is now that things began to go wrong. The men are unable to keep up with the artillery timetable and, as the barrage moves on the distance between them and the infantry soldiers becomes greater. As the barrage advances the German defenders of the Thiepval Chateau have time to re-man their positions before the British arrive. For the British troops things are beginning to look very similar to the slaughter of 1st July. But then a revolutionary new weapon makes its appearance on the battlefield. Tanks had arrived in France just a few weeks earlier and it is on the Somme that they are used for the first time in history. Although tanks will eventually become a key weapon in breaking the deadlock of trench warfare when first employed, in September 1916, the Army has yet to figure out how best to use them. Yet even one tank could make a huge difference.
In addition this time British generals are fully informed about the course of the fighting with reports that were coming through from artillery observers and also aeroplanes. Air observation has greatly improved since 1st July and this enables headquarters to order a re-bombardment of the positions which are still in German hands. But more than anything else, the senior British command left most decisions to the men on the ground. A tactic that had been completely ignored a short time ago on 1st July. Lieutenant Colonel Maxwell follows his troops onto the battlefield and sets up a command post at the Thiepval Chateau thus permitting him to manage the battle in directly.
- Captain Richard Henry Vaughan-Thompson (Royal Fusiliers) killed in action at age 32. He is the son-in-law of Lord and Lady Shaw.
Three Royal Navy vessels are sunk during a torpedo attack north west of Fair Isle. HM Yacht Conqueror II (Commander Thomas Roland Agassiz killed) is sunk killing her crew of seventeen.
- Chief Stewart Cyril Grandy whose son will lose his life in the Second World War is lost.
The hired trawler/minesweeper Sarah Alice (Acting Lieutenant Hugh McVey Lovett killed) is sunk when one of the torpedoes fired at Conqueror II misses its target and strikes her. Her crew of sixteen is lost. The final ship sunk is the steamer St Gothard whose crew is saved. Three Royal Navy vessels are sunk during a torpedo attack north west of Fair Isle. HM Yacht Conqueror II (Commander Thomas Roland Agassiz killed) is sunk killing her crew of seventeen. The hired trawler/minesweeper Sarah Alice (Acting Lieutenant Hugh McVey Lovett killed) is sunk when one of the torpedoes fired at Conqueror II misses its target and strikes her. Her crew of sixteen is lost. The final ship sunk is the steamer St Gothard whose crew is saved.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple men whose sons and a daughter will be killed in the Second World War
- A man whose brother will be killed in the 1944 in Italy
- The son-in-law of 1st Baron Craigmyle
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- A man whose brothers will go on to become a General, Admiral and Jurist
- Multiple sons of Baronets
- The father of a future Baronet
- Head Master of Carshalton School
- Will known rower, football and hockey player
- Mansfield Woodhouse Imperials player
- Captain of the Waihi City Football Club
- The Lightweight boxing champion of Tauranga New Zealand
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Major Alfred Frank Mantle (Saskatchewan Regiment) is killed at age 33. His son will be killed in August 1944.
- Captain Richard Henry Vaughan Thompson (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 32. He is the son-in-law of 1st Baron Craigmyle.
- Captain Francis Bevis Ellis (Northumberland Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 33. He is the son of ‘the Honorable’ and Reverend William Ellis Rector of Morpeth and a musician.
- Captain George Maurice Gerald Gillett (Leicestershire Regiment) is killed at age 33. He is the son of the Reverend Hugh Hodgson Gillett Rector of Compton and the Honorable Mrs. Gillett.
- Captain John Edward Newdigate Denning (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at age 23. Of his brothers one will be killed in May 1918, one will go on to become a General, one will become an Admiral and the final will become Lord Denning a famous Judge.
- Captain Alan Stevenson (Sherwood Foresters) is killed at age 29 at the Somme. He is the son of the Reverend William Stevenson of the Wesleyan Church Widnes.
- Lieutenant John Atholl MacGregor (Coldstream Guards) is killed at age 36. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ John Athol Bannatyne MacGregor 3rd
- Lieutenant Francis William Talbot Clerke (Coldstream Guards) is killed at age 30. He is the son and heir of ‘Sir’ William Talbot the 11th Baronet and father of the 12th
- Lieutenant Geoffrey Allan Snow (Central Ontario Regiment) is killed. He is the son of A J Russell Snow KC.
- Second Lieutenant Aucher Wilbraham-Taylor (Berkshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 19. His brother was killed in April 1915.
- Sergeant Sidney Harris (Manitoba Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother was killed last month serving in the Australian Infantry.
- Corporal Wilfred Charles Dawson (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 34. He is the Head Master of Carshalton School, Surrey.
- Lance Corporal John Cloke (New Zealand Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 22. He is a well-known rower, football and hockey player.
- Private George Marsden (Sherwood Foresters) is killed in action at age 20. Both he and his brother played for the Mansfield Woodhouse Imperials. His brother was wounded suffering the effects of shell shock and being buried on the Somme.
- Private Joseph Stewart Woods (Manitoba Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in November 1917.
- Private Arthur William Humphrey (East Surrey Regiment) dies of wounds. His brother will be killed in August 1917.
- Private William McCulloch (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 25. His brother will be killed in September 1918.
- Private John Saunders (Auckland Infantry) is killed. He is a former Captain of the Waihi City Football Club.
- Private Frank Parkinson (Auckland Infantry) dies of wounds. He is the lightweight boxing champion of Tauranga.
- Private Ben Genge (Auckland Regiment) is killed in action at age 28. His brother will be killed in October 1917.
- Private Maurice Arthur Newberry (Herfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 26. His brother was killed in July of this year.
- Private Thomas A Waudby (Lancaster Regiment) is killed. His brother was killed last July.
- Private Harry Ballard (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 21. His older brother will be killed next May.
- Sapper William George Jones (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 26. His brother will be killed in August 1918.
- Private Harry Smith (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) is killed at age 24. His brother will die of wounds in November 1918.
- Private Albert Rhodes (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed as the first of three brothers who are killed in the war.
- Second Lieutenant Edward Arthur Knipe (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 35. His daughter will be killed serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in December 1940.
- Private Gerald Leslie Hardwick (Canadian Light Horse) is killed at age 28. His brother will be killed next May.
- Private Kenneth Mordant Bannerman (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed at age 42. His ½ brother will be killed in 1944 in Italy.
- Private George Samuel Prew (Royal Army Medical Corps) is killed. His brother will be killed in August 1918.