Diary July 1, 1916

mine explodes underneath the German trenches

A British mine explodes underneath the German trenches near Beaumont Hamel at the beginning of the Somme attack.

Diary for Saturday, July 1, 1916:

Western Front

Somme: ANGLO-FRENCH OFFENSIVE, BATTLES OF THE SOMME BEGIN (until November 18).
First phase: Battle of Albert (until July 13). After 224,221 shells in 65 mins and explosion of 10 mines (0728 hours) Allied attack begins at 0730 hours. Combined Franco-British attack (19 divisions) on 25-mile front north and south of Somme. 66,000 (later 100,000) British soldiers capture Montauban (early creeping barrage) and Mametz. French XX and I Colonial Corps strike for Peronne reach Hardecourt and Curlu outskirts taking c.80 guns and 3,000 PoWs. Northwest of Albert­-Bapaume road British make little progress against strong German defences; small gain at Leipzig Redoubt south of Thiepval. British attacks at Gommecourt, Serre, Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval and La Boiselle all fail.
At 1900 hours Rawlinson’s casualties estimate 16,000, but in fact British casualties total 57,470 (incl. 19,240 killed and 2,152 missing (585 PoWs) largely to c. 100 German MG teams). HEAVIEST LOSS EVER SUFFERED BY THE BRITISH ARMY IN ONE DAY: 32 battalions lose 500 casualties. German casualties estimate 8,000.
Verdun: ­132nd day of battle.
During July Germans form 2nd Storm Battalion, 14 in all by December 31.
German combatant strength in West 2,260,000 soldiers. French Army 1,447,000 infantry; 93,500 cavalry; 495.000 artillery; 125.000 engineers; 24,000 air service in 4,677,000 mobilized strength.

Eastern Front

German combatant strength only 590,000 soldiers.
Pripet: Austro­-Germans regain 3 miles southwest of Lutsk (until July 2).
Brusilov Offensive – Carpathians­: Lechitski advances northwest of Kolomea, cuts railway at Mikoli­chin (July 4), despite Austro­-German counter-attacks (July 2-3).

Southern Fronts

Italian Front: Italian losses 524,760 men since January 1, including 275,190 sick, but 800,000 called to colours in same period.
Isonzo: Italian VII Corps launches diversion at Sell (Carso, south of Gorizia), some gains and PoWs (until July 3).

Middle East

Persia: c.16,000 Turks (Ali Ihsan Pasha) reoccupy Kermanshah, defeat Russians to north (July 19).
Arab Revolt – Yemen­: Idrisi’s tribe captures Qunfidah on coast.

Sea War

Adriatic: Austrian raid on Straits of Otranto.
Mediterranean: During July U-boat ace Arnauld de la Periere perfects technique of destroying ships by long­-range (8,000 yards) gunfire with new 4.1-inch deck gun (replaces 3.5-inch/88 mm), saving torpedoes and lessening risks to U-boats, who also through signals intelligence and captured documents learn which Allied routes are patrolled, sink 33 ships (86,432 t) in July.
Baltic: In July Russian submarines and destroyers sink or capture 4 German steamers.

Air War

Somme: Anglo-French su­premacy continues. 185 British (out of 421 RFC with 14 balloons) and 201 French against 129 German aircraft. Verdun and commitments elsewhere (plus Immelmann’s death) mean Germans have only 19 fighters against up to 66 British (Nos 24, 29, 32 and 60 Squadrons) and c. 72 French Nieuports; DH2s and FE2s play havoc with reconnaissance planes and balloons and brush aside German fighters. BE2s and RE7s hit railways, trains, roads, headquarters, dumps; RFC drop 39t bombs (July 1-16), Farmans and Caudrons often at night; RFC reconnaissance and artillery observation units fly virtually unhin­dered while German aircraft are forced to defend within their own lines or over their own bases. But, from mid-July German reinforcements reach the Somme.
Salonika: In July 6 Royal Navy Air Service aircraft and French flight on Thasos island drop incendiary bombs on ripening crops in south Bulgaria.
Western Front­: Major Rees commander of No 32 Squadron Royal Flying Corps single-handedly disperses 10 two-seaters near Festubert and forces down 2 (Rees wounded, wins Victoria Cross. 7 RFC aircraft missing (14 aircrew casualties) including 4 who cause 170 casualties to 22nd Reserve Division at St Quentin station.
Egypt: Royal Flying Corps Middle East Brigade (total 8 squadrons) formed under Brigade-General W Salmond to administer Salonika, Mesopotamia and East Africa units as well.

Neutrals

Santo Domingo: US Marines defeat rebels.

Home Fronts

Britain: Retail Food Price 61%, now 766,000 women in industry and commerce. Record low union unemployment of 0.4%. Somme barrage heard on Hampstead Heath.
France­: In July Le Canard enchaine satirical journal first published. Heavier excess profit taxes.
Germany: In July radical anti-war art weekly Kampf founded at Duisburg.

Call of War
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