Fricourt and Mametz

The villages of Fricourt and Mametz are on two spurs off of Pozieres Ridge, and the Germans made them both into strong points.  For the July 1st attack, the British XV Corps made of 21st Division and 7th Division planned to take both villages and reach the German second line.  Rather than directly attacking Fricourt, the British attacked on each side of Fricourt, hoping to force the Germans to withdraw from the place.  Fortunately, in this area the British bombardment had dealt with German artillery well, greatly simplifying the task of the attacking infantry, who in some places had only 100 yards of no man's land to cross.  To support the attack, a slow creeping barrage advanced just 50 yards in a minute, a method superior to what was more often used but still too fast - and with not enough guns - to be very useful.

Approximate German front lines are shown in blue.  Attacking British came from the west and south.

A) British Front Line

From the British front line here you can get a good view back toward La Boisselle and Lochnager Crater on one side and Fricourt on the other with Becourt behind British lines.  Between La Boisselle and Fricourt, the 64th Brigade attacked and successfully took four German trench lines.

B) Fricourt New Military Cemetery

This was no man's land and scene to the attack of the 10th West Yorks, who lost 710 men that day, half of those being killed.  The unit did reach the German Konig Trench but became isolated despite the blowing of three mines.  The mines were intended solely as a diversion - with no infantry attack - with the hope that the higher crater lips would block German enfilade fire.  Despite the failure here of the first attack, the7th East Yorkshire Regiment was ordered to attack here in the afternoon.  Another failure was inevitable, but fortunately losses were fewer in number.  Not visible, Fricourt is behind the wooded closed-off area where the mines were exploded.  Mining was conducted here before the attack of July 1st, so there are more than three craters in the Tambour area.

C) Fricourt Bray Road Cemetery

Here just south of Fricourt, against orders, a company of the 7th Yorkshires attacked toward the fortified village of Fricourt after the main attack had already been launched elsewhere.  The company got just a few yards into no man's land.

D) Bois Francais

Southeast of Fricourt is Bois Francais which retains evidence of trenches and mine craters from 1915 and 1916.  The area is private property.

E) Devonshire Cemetery

The 8th and 9th Devonshires attacked Mansell Copse, suffering from enfilade machine gun fire from Mametz through the 400 yards to reach the German front line, which they did.

The dead were buried in a trench which later became the more formal cemetery that you see today.  Burials include war poet William Hodgson.

E) View of Mametz

Mansell Copse with Devonshire Cemetery is on the far left of the panorama.  Gordon Cemetery on the right of the panorama was a support trench.

Attacking British troops took Mametz at 1605.  The relative success in this sector was costly, however, with 21st Division losing 4,256 men on the north side of Fricourt and 7th Division losing 3,380 men south of the village.  Further to the right, the British would have their greatest success at Montauban.

Fricourt German Cemetery

Copyright by John Hamill, 2012

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