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Two weeks into the Battle of the Somme the British faced the obstacle of the Bazentin Ridge, a line of heavily fortified trenches and strongpoints which commanded an excellent view of all approaches. Along the ridge Bazentin Le Petit Wood stood to the west, Delville Wood lay to the east and High Wood dominated the centre.
On 15th July, 1916, the British attacked and among those tasked to take High Wood were the 9th Glasgow Highlanders. On the left, five miles of the German second line was captured, as was Bazentin Wood, while on the right the epic six-day struggle for Delville Wood began. In the centre, High Wood was captured apart from a small corner but the Germans soon counter-attacked and regained control. Fierce fighting continued for two months until the wood was finally taken during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette when tanks were used for the first time.
Hardly a splintered tree stump was left above ground and it is estimated that the remains of around 8,000 soldiers, British and German, still lie there today. The shell holes have long since filled with soil or water and the woods have recovered but due to the vast amount of unexploded ordnance access is not permitted. More information on the attack on the individual woods and current memorials and war cemeteries can can be accessed via the above links.
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