FLERS - COURCELETTE
15th September 1916
On 1 July 1916 British and French forces launched an offensive which would become known as the Battle of the Somme.
The first day of the battle is regarded as one of the bloodiest days of the First World War with the loss of over 19,000 servicemen of the British Empire. The Somme Offensive lasted for another 141 days. By November winter closed down the battles. The five months of fighting resulted in 420,000 British Empire troops wounded or killed.
Infantry from the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Regiment, New Zealand Division in the Switch Line near Flers, taken some time in September 1916.
At 0620 hours on the 15th September 1916
the New Zealand Division fixed bayonets and advanced in four waves toward their objective the village of Flers. Tanks were used in this battle for the first time, by the British. Two of the four tanks attached to the New Zealand Division were knocked out by German artillery fire during the day.
603 New Zealanders were killed that day.
The Division continued fighting on The Somme for another 23 days, advanced 2 miles (3 Kilometres) and captured 1,000 German prisoners of war. By the time they withdrew there were 8,000 New Zealand casualties and over 2,000 dead.
The New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, National War Memorial,Wellington contains the remains of an unknown New Zealand soldier who died on The Somme.
For more information:
On my way to the Somme: New Zealanders and the bloody offensive of 1916 / Andrew Macdonald, 2005
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