THIEPVAL

The battle honour Thiepval was awarded for operations conducted by the 15th Bn 26-28 September 1916 during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge.   This battle was a part of the Somme offensive which had started on 1 July. After the capture of Pozieres Ridge in late August by the ANZAC Corps, the Canadian Corps was rotated to the front. The 1st Canadian Division held the ridge in early September. The advance to the east continued in mid-month with the 2nd Canadian Division capturing the village of Courcelette.  The next objective assigned to the Canadian Corps was the taking of all the high ground remaining in enemy hands extending over a front of some 3,000 yards north and east of Thiepval towards Courcelette.Following front line duty on Pozieres Ridge at the beginning of September, where they earned the battle honour Pozieres, the 15th Bn spent three weeks resting, absorbing new reinforcements and conducting training.  At 4:30 pm on 24 September the unit moved eastward to the front replacing the 14th Bn in support trenches 500 yards east of Pozieres.  At 7:00 pm on the 25th the unit moved into the front line.  They were in trenches facing north just to the west of the recently captured village of Courcelette     In preparation for the attack scheduled for 26 September an intense three-day artillery bombardment poured over a hundred thousand shells including gas onto the ridge.  On the right flank of the British line, the Canadian Corps attacked with the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Division on the left and the 3rd Brigade 1st Canadian Division on the right. The 14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) and the 15th Bn (48th Highlanders of Canada) were the assault units.
The attack started at 12:30 pm with Numbers 1,2, and 3 Companies in front and Number 4 Company in support.  B.H.Q. was established in the sunken road near the present day cemetery. The 15th Bn’s initial objective was to cross Fabeck Graben, an old German trench just to their front that was reported to be empty then seize the German front line.  Secondary objectives were to capture any other positions up to and including the formidable Regina Trench . Almost as soon as Number 1 and 2 companies left the front line they came under intense fire from Fabeck Graben which had been occupied during the night. The unit suffered numerous casualties before this position was cleared.By mid-afternoon the 15th had achieved their first objective and with Regina Trench in sight the battalion followed a creeping artillery barrage towards their objective.  The unit however was unable to reach the position and instead of assaulting it they established a line of advanced posts opposite, thus forming a new line.  The Highlanders  hung on to their improvised new front line until they were relieved by the 27th Bn C.E.F. in the early hours of Thursday the 28th of September. Regina Trench, so close to the new front line, was captured later in October during the Battle of Ancre Heights.The attack on 26 September 1916 produced the unit’s second highest casualty list. The 15th Bn lost two officers and a hundred and fifteen NCOs and men killed. A further ten officers and two hundred and thirteen other ranks had been wounded, one man gassed and two taken prisoner

 

Lt Col CE Bent and 15th Bn Officers
with captured German ‘trophies’
26 September 1916 Somme

 

This map from Brave Battalion by M. Zuehlke
illustrates the Battle of Thiepval Ridg
 Pte Holmes 
 Back side of the Record of Services card for 47866 Pte Thomas Holmes KIA at Theipval Ridge
on 26 Sept 1916.  Although his body was located and confirming articles retrived by the PPCLI
on the battlefield (see sketch & notes) his remains were not subsequently recovered and
he is memorialized on the Vimy Memorial.