Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916

Dublin Fusiliers at Ginchy

The village was to be attacked by the 16th Division of XIV Corps, commanded by Major-General Hickie. Ginchy itself was to be attacked by the four battalions of the 48th Brigade (Brigadier-General Ramsey), supported by two battalions from the 49th. It was part of a wider attack that also included the 49th Brigade, to the right and elements from V Corps to the left, but the attack on Ginchy was the only one to make progress.

ginchy map

Zero hour for the attack was set at 4.45pm on 9 September. At the last minute orders were dispatched delaying the attack for two minutes to allow for a final intense bombardment of the German lines, but only the 47th Brigade received the order in time. The 48th Brigade launched its attack on time, and was hit by German counter battery fire.

37th Brigade attacked at 4.47 pm. Its attack was immediately halted by German machine gun fire from their front line trenches, left intact by the British bombardment, which had struck the second line instead.

Ginchy was part of the line held by the I./19th Bavarian infantry. The attack of the 48th Brigade rolled up one company in the middle of the Bavarian line, and allowed the brigade to occupy Ginchy within an hour of zero-hour. On either side of the village the German lines held, and the British salient in Ginchy was subjected to an unsuccessful counterattack by II./19th Bavarians.

The 48th Brigade captured 200 prisoners during the advance into Ginchy, but suffered heavily casualties during the fight, amongst them two of the six battalion commanders, Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. Dalzell-Walton of 8/ Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Captain W. J. Murphy of 9/ Royal Dublin Fusiliers. A series of further battles would soon push the front line away from the village.  Despite the popular image of the battle of the Somme as a total failure, the battle of Flers-Courcelette was actually a minor success, although an expensive one.

 

9th September 1916

The battalion was in the support trench which it had dug. On the morning of 9th September the disposition of the units of the 48th Brigade for the assault on GINCHY which had been ordered were as follows.

In front trench with orders to take the first objective and consolidate it - 7th Royal Irish Rifles, 1 section Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, 1 section Trench Mortar Battery.

In support trench with orders to take the second objective and consolidate. 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1 section Machine Gun Company. 1 section 156 Company, Royal Engineers, 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1 section Machine Gun Company, 1 section 156 Company Royal Engineers.

At zero hour (4.45pm) the line advanced under the artillery barrage on the first objective, each battalion assaulting with 4 companies in the front line, on a frontage of one platoon, platoons at 40 yards distance.

First Phase. Right Battalion (1st R.M.F.). At the onset very heavy Officer  casualties were suffered. The right company experienced considerable opposition owing to the inability of the 8th R.M.F. to advance. This company was therefore wheeled to the right and dug in. Owing to the shortage of officers the other companies lost direction and went on beyond their objective. Left Battalion (7th R.I.R.) closely followed by 7th R. Irish Fusiliers reached the first objective with slight resistance & with very few casualties.

Second Phase. Right Battalion (8th R.D.F.) advanced to the second objective at 5.25 p.m. and gained it without encountering very serious opposition. Left Battalion (9th R.D.F) advanced to the second objective at 5.25pm but suffered very heavy officer casualties in doing so. Captain W. J. MURPHY (commanding) being killed as the battalion reached GINCHY. The battalion, owing to the loss of officers, carried on beyond the second objective and had to be brought back, also owing to the fact that 55 Division had not come up. The left flank had consequently to be brought back slightly. The line gained was then consolidated.

9th Battalion RDF

8th Battalion RDF