Battle Of Delville Wood

The Battle of Delville Wood was one of the early engagements in the 1916 Battle of the Somme in the First World War.

It took place between 14 July and 3 September, between the armies of the German Empire and allied British and South African forces. Delville Wood[Note 1] is located to the north east of the town of Longueval in the département of the Somme in northern France. After the two weeks of carnage from the commencement of the Somme Offensive, it became evident that a breakthrough of either the Allied or German line was most unlikely and the offensive had evolved to the capture of small prominent towns, woods or features which offered either side even the slightest tactical advantage from which to direct artillery fire or to launch further attacks.

Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC (19 June 1861 – 29 January 1928) was a British soldier and senior commander (field marshal) during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1915 to the end of the War. Most notably he was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the 3rd Battle of Ypres and the series of victories leading to the German surrender in 1918.

The advance started at 0325 on 14 July across a 4 miles (6 km) front. This time, there was no week long artillery bombardment, but a five minute barrage just before dawn. The result was that the attack started with complete surprise. However, it was one thing to penetrate the German second line by a sudden blow on a limited front, but another to consolidate and extend the breach in the face of the now fully alerted German divisions. The attack on Longueval met with initial success as the thin German advance screen was rapidly overwhelmed. Then resistance stiffened. Knowing the importance of the position, the German theatre commander, General der Infanterie Erich von Falkenhayn had ordered that "...the enemy will not advance, except over corpses!"