Battle of Le Transloy

Battle of Le Transloy

The Battle of Le Transloy was the final offensive mounted by the British Fourth Army and the Canadian Corps during the 1916 Battle of the Somme.

With the successful conclusion of the preceding Battle of Morval at the end of September, the Fourth Army of Lieutenant General Henry Rawlinson had finally captured the third line of German defences on the Somme. Unfortunately, while there had only been three lines at the start of the Somme battle in July, the Germans had not been idle during the slow Allied advance and Rawlinson's army was now confronted by a fourth line of defences along the Transloy ridge beyond which fifth and sixth lines were under construction. The prospect of a breakthrough was as distant as ever.

Nevertheless, the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, still had plans to achieve a breakthrough involving his three armies on the Somme; the Fourth Army in the south, the Reserve Army (later the Fifth Army) in the centre and the Third Army of General Edmund Allenby in the north. The first step was the capture of the Transloy line by the Fourth Army.

The battle, which opened on 1 October, began well with the capture of Eaucourt L'Abbaye by the 47th (1/2nd London) Division as well as an advance along the Albert-Bapaume road towards Le Sars. The advance was resumed on 7 October and Le Sars was taken by the British 23rd Division but progress along the Canadian lines was stalled.

The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the battlefield, which had been pummelled to dust by relentless artillery bombardment over the preceding three months, turned to a quagmire. Rawlinson mounted further attacks on 12 October, 18 October and 23 October but there was little chance of a significant gain. The last throe (which by now included the Australian forces of the I Anzac Corps) came on 5 November despite protests from some corps commanders who believed continued attacks to be futile.

The 1917 battles of Passchendaele have become synonymous with mud and misery but according to the Australian official historian, Charles Bean, the conditions on the Somme in November were "the worst ever known by the First A.I.F."

ee also

*List of Canadian battles during World War I


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