We start now at Ovillers at the British Military Cemetery.
Ovillers Military Cemetery was begun before the capture of Ovillers as a battle cemetery behind a dressing station. It was used until March 1917, by which time it contained 143 graves, about half the present Plot I. The cemetery was increased after the Armistice when Commonwealth and French graves were brought in, mainly from the battlefields of Pozières, Ovillers, La Boisselle and Contalmaison.
There are now 3,440 servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 2,480 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 24 casualties believed to be buried among them. The cemetery also contains 120 French war graves.
The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
Ovillers-la Boisselle, 1 July 1916.
South of Thiepval the German 26. Reserve Division occupied the heavily fortified villages of Ovillers and in La Boisselle, the village itself including the so called “Schwaben Hohe”.
On 1 July 1916 the 70th Brigade of the 8th Division advanced from the Usna Hill to the Village of Ovillers, north of the Albert – Bapaume Road, and a depression parallel to the road, “Mash Valley”. The main target for that day was meant to be reaching the church at Pozières.
After blowing several mines like the Lochnagar mine, ...
... and a mine at Y-Sap (40.000lbs), left of the road, ...
... the 34th Brigade with 4 battalions of Northumberland Fusiliers, Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish, attacked from the Tara Hill to Y-Sap and la Boisselle village. But in No Man’s Land they were thrown back and sustained many casualties.
Both villages were not captured yet, but the British won some ground here and to the south of La Boisselle. On 4 July, the 19th (Western) Division cleared La Boisselle and on 7 July the 12th (Eastern) and 25th Divisions gained part of Ovillers, the village being cleared by the 48th (South Midland) Division on 17 July. The two villages were lost during the German advance in March 1918, but they were retaken on the following 24 August by the 38th (Welsh) Division.
Below: Conquered trench near Ovillers. Members of A Company, 11th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment.
From Ovillers we cross the D 929 to visit la Boisselle.
Panorama view from Ovillers over Mash Valley to la Boisselle.
We start at the Tyneside Memorial.
Along the D 929 stands the Tyneside Memorial Seat,
to commemorate the actions of
the 102nd Tyneside Scottish Brigade and
the 103rd Tyneside Irish Brigade.
On the other side of the road the civilian cemetery
(behind the green hedge) formed a centre point during
the Franco-German fights of 17 December 1914.
This spot also forms the frontline of 1 July 1916,
where the British would be halted at the end of the day.
We skip just for a moment our visit to the Glory Hole trenches and save it for later on this page to visit first
the Lochnagar Mine Crater.
This Lochnagar Mine Crater was caused by one of 17 huge mines, ...
... which the British detonated along the Somme front
on 1 July 1916 at 7.20 A.M.
For more detailed information about this mine explosion,
From the dead end road of the Lochnagar Crater
we return to the Glory Hole trenches.
Archaeologists are researching this site of tunnels, trenches
and craters. This day they were, alas, not present to receive us.
From outside of the fence I notice the info signs, which are
already positioned along the traces of the trenches.
We hope of course that that this site will be opened in the future
to the public.
Marie Pierre Jouanny, after whom this trench was named,
was a sergeant in the Breton 19e Régiment d'Infanterie.
He was killed in action on 28 February 1915 near this spot,
probably not far from the trench, which took its name.
When the British took over these lines from the French in
June 1915, the British soldiers have renamed this trench
"Tummel Street Trench".
Although the emphasis of most memorials along the northern
Somme Front is on the British actions of 1916,
the name of this Breton Sergeant Pierre Youanni reminds us,
that we sometimes tend to forget that the French had to
defend these lines themselves until June 1915.
On 17 December 1914 these same trenches, here at
the Glory Hole, formed the jump-off trenches of
the Breton 19e Régiment d'Infanterie for a massive attack on
Ovillers and la Boisselle, then occupied by the Germans.