The British attack did best in the sector adjacent with the French army, aided by the success of their ally which was due in large part to a better preliminary bombardment.  The British themselves had conducted a very effective counter battery effort and had used more and larger guns in this sector.  When the attack came, the Germans had little artillery available.  They were aided by good observation from Maricourt Ridge which also protected British artillery on the reverse slope.  The 18th and 30th Divisions of the XIII Corps attacked in this sector at 7:30 after exploding a few small mines and supported by a creeping barrage.

The blue line is the approximate German front line.  The British were attacking from the south - down on the map.  The letters correspond to the panorama locations.

A) 30th Division

This is the view from north of Maricourt along the allied line where the British sector ended and the French sector began.  The British line extended left from here to Machine Gun Wood where it pivoted forward toward the north end of Talus Boise.  Talus Boise was home to British reserve positions, dugouts, machine guns, and mortars as well as a light rail line.  The Allied attacked along the axis of the road at right toward Montauban and Bernafay Wood.  The Brick Factory was attacked by the British, but first Montauban was captured.

B) Brick Factory

The Brick Factory was a German strong point with dugouts and a chimney used as an observation post.  The facility was captured by the 20th King's Liverpool Regiment.  After Montauban was captured, a couple of days later a British patrol moved laterally and entered Bernafay Wood.

Next let's move back to the British front line at Machine Gun Wood.

C) Machine Gun Wood

On the far ends of this panorama are Maricourt and Maricourt Ridge - in the British rear - and which the British used to observe German positions and hide their artillery.  The British front line was roughly along the axis of the road that passes Machine Gun Wood.  At the wood, however, the line jutted forward toward the northern end of the trees at Talus Boise.  At the time of my visit there were artillery projectiles that had been plowed up and placed beside the road for disposal.

Next we will walk along the track in the direction of Montauban for a better view.

D) 30th Division

Here the track ends.  We may have walked beyond the front line of the British 30th Division and into No Man's Land where there is an excellent view of the battlefield.

Next we will go to the other side of the Talus Boise.

E) 18th Division

The British front line had jutted forward on the other side of Talus Boise.  On this side the front line was parallel to, and in front of, the track on the left of the panorama.  The ground between here and Montauban was where the 18th Division attacked.  Next we will continue walking up the track toward the top.  

F) Soccer Ball

We have walked up the track visible on the far right of the panorama.  This is the same track visible in the left-center of the panorama, and the British front line was parallel to this track a little in the direction of Montauban.  Starting off the attack, Captain Billie Nevill threw a soccer ball forward and encouraged his men to kick it forward as they advanced.  This quickened the advance, making it more successful and less costly.

Next we continue along the track to the main road.

G) 18th Division

We have walked from the track on the far right of the panorama parallel to the stacked line of sugar beets and parallel to the British front line on the other side of the track.  The main road we see at left heads to the British rear.  It heads in the other direction to Montauban.  Not far in that direction there used to be mine craters marking the front lines.

Montauban was captured, and the attack continued to the north side of the village, which is where we go next.

H) German Redoubt

Here north of Montauban there was a German redoubt that was captured during the morning of the attack by 17th Manchesters then made into the new British front line.  Montauban Alley had been the last major German support trench of their first line.  There was open ground between here and the German second line but no fresh troops with which to continue the attack.  Some people believe that this was the lost opportunity of the day, that a breakthrough here was possible.  Places like Mametz Wood, Delville Wood and High Wood would see a great deal of combat before the battle would end in November.  For this success the 18th Division lost 3,115 men and the 30th 3,011 - less than many other divisions that day.

I) Quarry Cemetery

Here, further north from Montauban is Quarry Cemetery.  The road on the right side of the panorama heads up to Montauban.  The German redoubt made into the new British front line was near the top of the ridge.

In Caterpillar Valley shown here the British continued their attacks later in the battle, and Quarry Cemetery was begun after the July 14th fighting.

Copyright by John Hamill, 2012

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