Tag Archives: Somme

Last day of the Somme

The final day of the Somme campaign was 18 November 1916, the 141st day of battles.

The day before, on 17 November 1916, D Company planned to send 6 tanks into action in support of the 32nd and 37th Divisions but 5 of them ditched on the way to the assembly point. One tank, commanded by 2Lt Partington, crossed the German front line at around 7am and was able to silence a number of German MGs.

On 18 November 1916 the Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps became the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps. The companies were to be expanded over the coming weeks to form 6 Battalions (A, B, C, D, E, F).

Tank Tactics

On 26 June 1916 a conference was held at GHQ in France to discuss how tanks might be used in the forthcoming Battle of the Somme.  The consensus was:

In the attack carried out by Tanks, the Tanks should move forward so as to reach the German front line position at dawn followed up by our infantry which is to start forward from our line as soon as the Tanks reach the first line of the enemy; that in the further operations which will ensue by day light, Tanks should precede the infantry from place to place as quickly as possible; that the ultimate objectives of the tanks during this period should be:

  1. The German artillery positions.
  2. The German second or third lines;

That the German artillery position might be assumed at an approximation to be at a distance of 2,000 to 3,000 yards from the German front line.