Cough Drop was held and attempts were made to dig eastwards to the New Zealanders. In the 50th Division Major-General P. Wilkinson area, the th Brigade attacked with two battalions, one in support and one in reserve at zero hour and by 7: After receiving machine-gun fire from High Wood on the right at 8: The th Brigade attack had two tanks advancing ahead of the infantry and one reached Hook Trench and fired into it until hit by two shells and blown up as the other tank crossed the trench drove on to the third objective and knocked out three machine-guns on the edge of Martinpuich before returning to refuel.
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The infantry attack took the first objective by 7: Two reserve battalions were sent forward at 9: German shelling forced one battalion to retreat to Hook Trench. The 15th Division Major-General Frederick McCracken attacked with two battalions attached from the 23rd Division and the 45th Brigade on the right flank attacked with two battalions, one in support and three in reserve. The barrage was found to be very good and little resistance was met except at Tangle South and the Longueval—Martinpuich road. The 46th Brigade on the left attacked with all four battalions and three in support and captured Factory Lane at 7: A tank moved very slowly but attacked the Germans in Bottom Trench and Tangle Trench, silenced several machine-guns in Martinpuich and then returned to refuel, returning later carrying ammunition.
The second tank was knocked out before reaching its jumping-off point. When the artillery lifted off the village at 9: During the night, two fresh battalions relieved the front line and gained touch with the Canadians in Gunpit Trench and on the right flank touch was gained with the 50th Division at the Martin Alley—Starfish Line junction.
It took the 3rd Guards Brigade all morning to reorganise after the attacks the previous day and it did not attack until 1: All of the XV Corps divisions attacked at 9;25 a. The right hand battalion was fired on from Gas Alley and forced under cover; west of the road from Ginchy—Gueudecourt road, the left hand battalion was also fired on from the front and the right and took cover in shell-holes. Two battalions tried to reinforce the attack but were also repulsed as was another attack at 6: Tank D14 drove into Gueudecourt and was knocked out; the 64th Brigade reorganised at Bulls Road, where an order for another attack was too late to be followed.
One battalion attacked at zero hour, and captured Grove Alley but the repulse of the 64th Brigade on the right led to more attacks being cancelled. The st Brigade of the 50th Division also attacked Prue Trench east of Crescent Alley and parties from two battalions briefly occupied the objective. A battalion from the th Brigade also attacked but veered to the left and were repulsed and attempts to bomb down Prue Trench from Martin Alley were also abortive. The 15th Scottish Division was counter-attacked during the morning and Martinpuich was bombarded all day.
Posts were set up nearer to 26th Avenue and the line up to the Albert—Bapaume road was taken over from the Canadians. The 59th Brigade attacked at 6: The 14th and 41st divisions were replaced by the 21st Division Major-General D. Campbell and the 55th Division Major-General H.
The rain continued and turned the roads into swamps but at 5: The th Brigade was to attack the south-east face of Bouleaux Wood but was so impeded by mud and flooded shell-holes that it could not even reach the jumping-off point. A battalion each of the 16th and 18th brigades of the 6th Division attacked the Quadrilateral and Straight Trench, also at 5: A third battalion bombed forwards from the south-east and reached the 56th Division at Middle Copse.
The first attack on Straight Trench failed but bombers eventually got in while a party swung left and got behind the Germans and took prisoners and seven machine-guns. Signs of a counter-attack forming near Morval were seen and bombarded; the 5th Division Major-General R.
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Stephens began to relieve the 6th Division. In III Corps, the 47th Division sent troops of the th Brigade to bomb along Flers Trench and Drop Alley to their junction and parts of two nd Brigade battalions attacked the Starfish Line but were only able to reinforce the party already there. Later on, German bombers counter-attacked and drove back the British towards the Starfish Line and were then repulsed during the night.
The 15th Scottish Division made minor adjustments to its front line and began its relief by the 23rd Division, which also took over the Starfish Line and Prue Trench west of Crescent Alley from the 50th Division. The III Corps divisions continued to make local attacks and slowly captured the final objectives of 15 September with little opposition. The 56th Division dug a trench north-east of Middle Copse and south of the copse sapped forward towards Bouleaux Wood. Next day the 47th Division was relieved by the 1st Division and the New Zealanders attacked at 8: Each man had three days' rations and two large water bottles.
Battalions of the 50th Reserve Regiment were sent forward and counter-attacked at 5: After dark, the defenders improved the defences, reorganised and regained contact with flanking units ready for 16 September. The diarist of BIR 14 recorded that when the prisoners saw the supplies behind the British front, they were astonished at the plenitude, thought that Germany had no chance against such quantity and that had they had such support, they could have surpassed the British effort that day and won the war.
When the creeping barrage passed over, the British rushed Foureaux Riegel and then the following waves took over and advanced towards Flers Riegel. The Germans on the rear trench of Foureaux Riegel made a determined defence but were overwhelmed and tanks "had a shattering effect on the men" when they drove along the trench parapet, firing into it as infantry threw grenades at the survivors.
Returning wounded alerted BIR 5 in Flers Riegel who fired red SOS flares, sent messenger pigeons and runners to call for artillery support but none got through the bombardment being maintained on the Bavarian rear defences. Foureaux Riegel had been mopped up by 7: A tank drove along the Longueval—Flers road, unaffected by small-arms fire and stopped astride the trench and raked it with machine-gun fire, drove on and repeated the process, causing many casualties. The tank drove into Flers and emerged from the north end, moving along the Flers—Ligny road until hit by a shell, the shock of the tank led to Flers Riegel being captured followed by the village.
On the 5th Bavarian Division front the bombardment increased on 14 September, causing many casualties, cutting most telephone lines and destroying the front trenches until an overnight lull. The bombardment resumed early in the morning including gas shells and before dawn a thick mist rose, which with the gas and smoke, reduced visibility and around 6: The vehicles, with blue-and-white crosses, were thought to be for transporting wounded. Machine-gun fire was received from them and the Bavarians returned fire but the vehicles drove up to the edge of the trench and fired along it for several minutes.
The vehicles drove away, one being hit by a shell and abandoned in no man's land. Soon afterwards a creeping barrage began to move towards the German defences and the German artillery reply was considered by survivors to be feeble. A wounded officer returning for treatment found that the batteries around Flers and Gueuedecourt did not know that the British were attacking because the telephone lines had been cut and visual signals had not been seen in the smoke and mist.
Foureaux Riegel and much of Flers Riegel had almost disappeared in the bombardment, most dugout entrances having been blocked and most of Foureaux Riegel was captured, despite isolated pockets of resistance.
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Troops of BIR 21 had waited in shell-holes for the creeping barrage to pass over and then engaged the British infantry as they advanced in five or six lines. The British troops lay down and tried to advance in small groups, some coming close enough to throw grenades and one party getting into a remnant of trench. The best grenade-thrower in the regiment was nearby and won the exchange, the British being shot down as they ran back across no man's land.
With little artillery support the Bavarians were pushed out of the front line and lost Flers Riegel at The battalion headquarters destroyed documents as the British approached and at one headquarters a shell blocked the dug-out and around 6: Soon afterwards the entrance was widened and the occupants taken prisoner. What was left of the regiment retreated to Gallwitz Riegel and engaged the British as they advanced downhill from Flers.
Morale revived somewhat and more troops joined in, frustrating the British attacks until the British took cover in shell-holes and communication trenches, ending the attack. The British were pushed back towards Flers, with many casualties; engineer stores and a battery of field guns were re-captured. East of Flers the attack was delayed and BIR 10, 11 and 14 advanced at 6: South of Ginchy, BIR 21 had defeated the attacks all day; from 6—7 p.
Turner attacked with the 4th Canadian Brigade on the right of the Albert—Bapaume road, three battalions to advance to the objective and the 6th Canadian Brigade attacked on the left with two battalions and one following battalion to mop-up. Three tanks were to advance up the Albert—Bapaume road to a sugar factory, which one tank was to attack as the other two turned right down Factory Lane, to the corps boundary with III Corps.
On the left of the road in the 6th Canadian Brigade area, three tanks were to advance to Sugar Trench then to attack down it to the sugar factory from the north; the infantry and tanks were to begin together but the infantry were warned not to wait. The sound of the tanks moving up was heard by the Germans, who fired a slow barrage onto the rear areas and communication trenches but this turned out to be a planned raid against the 4th Canadian Brigade.
German bombers attacked at 3: II Battalion was east of the road and III Battalion was on the west side and received an overhead machine-gun barrage. The Canadians met determined resistance but within fifteen minutes drove the German infantry from the front line, the 4th Canadian Brigade reaching Factory Lane at about 7: The 6th Canadian Brigade made slower progress against Reserve Infantry Regiment but reached the objective around 7: The Canadian attack was costly but the remainder began to consolidate and patrols maintained contact with the Germans as they retreated.
On the right flank, Lewis guns were set up in the sunken road from Martinpuich to Courcelette and patrols scouted Courcelette before the British bombardment ended at 7: A tank in the left group broke down but the other two reached the German trenches and killed many infantry before ditching in McDonnell Trench. On the left, the 3rd Canadian Division attacked early with the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles CMR to secure the left flank, captured the objective and set up a block near Fabeck Graben , shooting down German troops as they fled.
The Canadians set up advanced posts beyond Gunpit Trench and the south fringe of Courcelette as soon as the barrage lifted at 9: Two 5th Canadian Brigade battalions arrived on time and advanced into Courcelette when the barrage lifted, occupying a line around the village, cemetery and quarry.
Battle of Flers–Courcelette
The 7th Canadian Brigade battalions attacking from Sugar Trench, lost many casualties to machine-gun fire and found it hard to keep direction in the shattered landscape but captured McDonnell Trench and the east end of Fabeck Graben. Two companies captured a chalk pit short of the trench; a communication trench was dug forward to it and the rest of the Canadian line was reinforced. I Battalion, RIR in the trenches east of Courcelette cemetery and the quarry to the north, made several counter-attacks which were repulsed. Pioneers behind the Canadian lines dug several communication trenches forward despite German shell fire and engineers worked on tracks and strong points, the sugar factory being fortified and provided with water from a repaired well.
The corps squadrons of the Fourth and Reserve armies were busy with artillery-observation and reconnaissance sorties and bombing on the Somme front was conducted by 8, 12 and 13 squadrons of the III Brigade, the RFC squadrons flying in support of the Third Army. Headquarters 9th Wing with 27 and 21 squadrons flew longer-range sorties and bombing sorties south of the Ancre.
At zero hour, each corps squadron sent two contact patrol aircraft over the battlefield and sent relays of aircraft to relieve them during the day. Within ten minutes, British signal flares were lit in the Switch Line and after another fifteen minutes, were alight all the way to Flers Avenue, south of the village.
The infantry advance had been so swift that the tanks were left behind but at 8: In the early afternoon an aircrew watched a tank advance towards Gueudecourt, be hit and catch fire. Aircrew observed artillery batteries in action, 70 were engaged and 29 were silenced. The Canadian attacks were observed by 7 Squadron and observers saw flares in front of Courcelette and across to Martinpuich at 7: The Canadian infantry captured Courcelette at 6: II Corps was watched by 34 Squadron which at 9: A 34 Squadron crew dropped a message at The contact crew flew back to the wood and saw that troops on both flanks had got forward and enveloped the wood.
On return, the crew found that a frontal attack was being arranged and were able to get it cancelled. On another sortie, the crew reported at Four German parties of infantry on the Reserve Army front were bombarded in response to zone calls. German observation balloons were attacked by 60 Squadron Morane Bullets , which shot down two for the loss of one aircraft, having destroyed one balloon the evening before, a disappointing result but balloons were guarded by German aircraft and increasing numbers of anti-aircraft guns.
Anti-aircraft lookouts gave warnings and the ground crews winched them down quickly. British balloon observers had good visibility and telephoned reports to guide artillery onto German guns, trenches and strong points; as the infantry advanced, some balloons were moved forward and gained a view over ground previously unseen.