Battle of The Somme: High Wood July 1916
The 1916 Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War. It was a series of battles fought to take control of important towns, villages, and landmarks around the River Somme in northern France. Many battalions of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) took part in these assaults.
During the battle of the Somme, the British attempted to capture High Wood, part of the German defensive line. Several attacks on the wood had already failed when the 5/6th Battalion was ordered to attack on the morning of 20th July 1916.
The battalion managed to take most of the wood, but a heavily-defended machine gun post in the eastern section caused many casualties. The battalion fought off several heavy counter-attacks, until additional forces arrived to relieve it later that evening.
“We staggered back, those of us who were left, to behind Mametz Wood…I remember Captain Munro saying “Fall in by companies.” When I looked at the four companies in line, reduced to the strength of four weak platoons, and thought of all the bright lads who had gone “west”, I cried like a child.” Company Serjeant Major P. Docherty, D.C.M., M.M.
In the attack on High Wood, the 5/6th Battalion had 18 officers and 389 men killed or wounded.