To France

Early months in France

The Battalion travelled by train and foot to Armentieres in the north of France near the border with Belgium.  They became part of the troops manning the trenches on this part of the Western Front.   The Front was a chain of trenches between the Allied and German forces stretching from the coast in Belgium to Italy a length of nearly 480 miles.  There had recently been significant fighting in this area not far south from Ypres (Belgium).

To the Somme

In July 1915 the Battalion travelled south to the north side of the Somme Valley.  Here they were based for over a year before being moved at the end of 1916 to fight in Italy.

Battalions were, in general, expected to rotate doing 4 days in the trenches, 4 days on rest some distance back from the front line and 4 days in reserve nearer to the line.  Although this pattern was roughly followed many things happened to break it.

Until the middle of 1916 the Battalion appear to have been engaged in little fighting.

Background to the Somme Offensive of 1916

The Allied forces (France, Belgium, Britain and commonwealth troops) agreed in 1916 that they would try to make a major push to break through the German forces and so sweep behind their lines.  The point chosen for this was the Somme valley.   Some say it was a bad choice since there was little in the way of railway lines that would be needed to transfer the large amounts of food and other resources required to keep the forces fed.

The day of the attack was designated as Z-day with the days leading up to it being w, x and y.  The actual date was kept secret until immediately beforehand.

Z-day turned out to be 1 July 1916 and the Battle of the Somme, as it later became known, lasted until November. The first day of the Somme saw the highest number of casualties ever recorded for the British army with nearly 20,000 men killed and nearly 40,000 more wounded.

Over the 142 days of fighting the allied forces managed to push back the German line by less than a mile and they failed to break through.  It is estimated that the casualties on both sides were over 1 million men killed or wounded.

1/5th in the Somme

In July and August the 1/5th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire were involved in several significant conflicts on the north side of the Somme Valley.  They had a quieter September and were then moved to the north of the Somme valley at the edge of the main area of conflict.

>> Z-Day