100 years ago
August 1916 by Lyn Dyson
The beginning of the month was spent in more training, and on 12th August they were in Sarton when His majesty the King passed through the village at about 11am. The men lined the main street and cheered as His Majesty passed in his motor car. They then returned for more training.
Towards the end of the month they were back in the Leipzig salient where they suffered heavy casualties, especially on 24th August.
They were relived on 26th August and able to take baths and have a foot inspection. At the end of the month they were at Bouzincourt, resting and training and playing a football match.
In August they moved from Happy Valley to Robecq for more training. On 11th August they moved up to trenches at Givenchy, but had a relatively quiet time there. At the end of the month they were at rest at Mount Bernenchon.
They remained at Sheikh Saad until 25th August. On 11th August there were some improved washing facilities completed and put into use. These consisted of shallow trenches in series of threes, the inner one covered with a tarpaulin and the outer one for standing inn and trenches for running off the water.
At 5pm on 25th August they marched out of Sheikh Saad and headed towards Amarah, marching through the night and camping during the day. The march lasted nine days, and they did not arrive in Amarah until 4th September.
During their rest period at the beginning of the month, the men went bathing in the River Somme. They returned to the trenches on 8th August, and they did a lot of trench improvement work. On the whole the enemy was very quiet, but most afternoons they were bombarded with minenwerfers and heavy shells. After they were relieved in the trenches on 13th August they remained in reserve but were unable to do any training as they had to form so many working parties during the day and the night for the Royal Engineers.
All was quiet on the front at Kalinova at the beginning of the month. At 5am on 9th August the battalion started a bombardment of enemy positions which they continued until 18th August. After that time they experienced some enemy shelling, and on 22nd August the enemy attacked the battalions forward positions. They were driven off but two men were killed and one died of wounds, and 16 men were wounded. Things quietened down again after that and on 28th August they moved on to Cidemli
Acting Bombardier Albert George Rambridge 113391 Killed in Action 26th August 1916
Albert was born in Potterne in 1876, the son of Stephen Rambridge, a farm labourer originally from Salisbury, and his wife Matilda. In 1881 the family was living at Lydeway cottages, near the Clockhouse at Stert and they had six children, of whom Albert was the eldest son.
In 1891 Albert ws working as a farm labourer, and in 1896, at the age of nineteen he enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery. He served in South Africa during the Boer War. During his service he received an injury when he was bitten on the cheek by a horse.
Albert was discharged after twelve years’ service in 1908 and that year he married Mary Ann Munson, who was from Essex. They settled in Easterton Sands and Albert worked as a domestic groom.
In 1915, Albert rejoined his Regiment and served in A Battery of the 167th Brigade of the RFA. This was a Howitzer Brigade. He went to France in December 1915 and served on the Western Front. The 167th Brigade was involved in the Battle of Bezentin Ridge, and the subsequent actions in that area. This was the second phase of the Battle of the Somme.
From July to September the woods around Bezentin were the location of fierce fighting, and 167 Howitzer brigade was involved in this. The British attacked, and the Germans counter attacked for a period of seven weeks before the third phase of the Battle of the Somme was started in September.
Delville Wood was a 156 acre forest of oak and birch, with dense hazel thickets. It was broken up by grassy gaps, but the artillery bombardments soon filled these with craters and fragments of trees. The northern end of the wood dipped down towards the main German lines, making it easy for them to reinforce the woods.
Albert was killed during this series of engagements, on 26th August. The armies suffered from ammunition shortages, high casualties and wet weather, which reduced visibility and made the movement of troops and supplies much more difficult. Both sides were reduced to piecemeal attacks and piecemeal defence on narrow fronts, except for a small number of bigger and wider-front attacks, until early September. Most attacks were defeated by defensive fire power and the inclement weather, which frequently turned the battlefield into a slough of mud, but in the end the British action was successful and the woods were secured so that the next phase of the advance was able to start in September 1916.The cost in casualties was enormous, with around 200,000 men lost on the Anglo/French side of the battle.