Middlesex Regiment on the Somme

IMG_3915Somme Battle HonoursSomme 1916 , Albert 1916, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916.

The Duke of Cambridge’s Own Middlesex Regiment had a proud history dating back to 1881. It’s nickname was the ‘Die Hards’ dating back to the Peninsular War when as the 57th Foot their Colonel fell mortally wounded and called out “Die hard the 57th, die hard!“. During the Battle of the Somme it had fifteen battalions in the field.

 

The 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with the 99th Brigade, 33rd Division and arrived on the Somme front on 8th July 1916 when they detrained at the railhead at Longeau. On 15th July they took part in an attack on the Switch Line near High Wood suffering 321 casualties, remaining in the High Wood area for some weeks. After a period of service in the trenches at Hebuterne, they returned to the battle and took part in an attack o Rainy and Dewdrop trenches near Lesboeufs on 24th October.

The 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with the 23rd Brigade, 8th Division. They had arrived on the Somme front in 1915 and spent many months here in the lead up to the battle. On 1st July 1916 they took part in the attack at Mash Valley near Ovillers suffering more than 650 casualties that day. The battalion returned to the Somme in October 1916 and took part in operations near Le Transloy losing more than 230 casualties in bitter hand to hand fighting at Zenith Trench.

The 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with the 63rd Brigade, 21st and 37th Division. They had been on the Somme several months before the battle and on 1st July 1916 took part in the attack between La Boisselle and Fricourt, suffering over 540 casualties by the time they were relieved. At the end of the Somme they served in the trenches in the Ancre Valley near Beaucourt.

The 1/7th Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with the 167th Brigade, 56th (London) Division. They were on the Somme before the battle and helped dig assembly trenches near Hebuterne. On 1st July 1916 they were in reserve for the attack on Gommecourt. They trained with tanks in August 1916 near Abbeville and fought in the battles for Leuze Wood and Bouleaux Wood in September 1916. In one attack with the tanks on 15th September 1916 they lost over 300 men out of 500 who took part in the attack on ‘Bully Wood’. In October 1916 they fought at Spectrum Trench near Lesboeufs suffering nearly 200 casualties.

The 1/8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with the 167th Brigade, 56th (London) Division. They were on the Somme before the battle and helped dig assembly trenches near Hebuterne. On 1st July 1916 they were in reserve for the attack on Gommecourt. They trained with tanks in August 1916 near Abbeville and fought in the battles for Leuze Wood  in September 1916, losing 245 men on 15th September 1916. In October 1916 they served near Flers.

The 11th Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. They were in reserve at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme and took part in the attack at Mash Valley, Ovillers, on both 3rd and 7th July 1916. They later took part in operations near Pozières and served in the trenches near Flers in October 1916.

The 12th Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with the 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division. It arrived on the Somme in August 1915 and had served in the trenches at Fricourt and Bois Francais before the battle. On 1st July 1916 it was in reserve near Carnoy and moved up to support the advance on Montauban. On 13th/14th July 1916 it fought at Trônes Wood, suffering more than 280 casualties. After leaving the Somme for a couple of months, it returned and took part in the attack on Thiepval on 26th September 1916 when Privates F.J. Edwards and R. Ryder were both awarded the Victoria Cross. This was a successful attack but it cost them over 430 casualties. The battalion later fought at Regina Trench and spent the winter of 1916/17 on the Somme.

The 13th Battalion Middlesex Regiment served with 73rd Brigade, 24th Division. It arrived on the Somme from Flanders at the end of July 1916 and took part in operations near Guillemont. On 30th August 1916 the battalion was in action at Delville Wood and in one day lost of 400 men in the fighting for Tea Trench. It left the Somme in mid-1916.

The 16th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (Public Schools Battalion) served with 86th Brigade, 29th Division. It had been on the Somme since the spring of 1916 and on 1st July 1916 took part in the attack at Hawthorn Ridge, Beaumont-Hamel, suffering 524 casualties. It moved to Ypres for a while and then returned to the Somme in October 1916, serving near Flers.

The 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (1st Football Battalion) served with the 6th Brigade, 2nd Division. The battalion arrived on the Somme in late July 1916 and took part in fighting at Waterlot Farm and Melville Wood. Black footballer Walter Tull served with the battalion at this time. It later served in the trenches at Serre and on 13th November 1916 was in the attack at Redan Ridge.

The 18th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (1st Public Works Pioneers) served as pioneers to the 33rd Division. It arrived on the Somme in early July 1916 and took part in the fighting between Bazentin and High Wood in July and August 1916. After service elsewhere, it returned to the Somme in October 1916 and was based in the Mametz and Delville Wood areas.

The 19th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (2nd Public Works Pioneers) served as pioneers to the 41st Division. It arrived on the Somme in late August 1916 and supported units of the division in the attack on Flers on 15th September 1916.In October 1916 it was based at Delville Wood and then moved to St Omer.

The 20th Battalion and 21st Battalion Middlesex Regiment both served with the 121st Brigade, 40th Division. They were ‘bantam’ battalions made up of men of short stature. They served briefly in the Somme area in November 1916.

The 23rd Battalion Middlesex Regiment (2nd Football Battalion) served with 123rd Brigade, 41st Division. The battalion arrived on the Somme at the end of August 1916 and served in Delville Wood and on 15th September 1916 was in support for the attack on the Switch Line, suffering 195 casualties. It later served in the trenches at Flers and Eaucourt and left the Somme in late October 1916.

Researching a soldier from the Middlesex Regiment? We can help: click here for details of our WW1 Research Service.

3 thoughts on “Middlesex Regiment on the Somme

  1. Your information on the 20th and 21st regiments is not quite accurate. Yes, they were a a regiment of small men when originally formed in the earlier part of the war, but this was not the case with the later recruits. You are also incorrect in their record of their involvement in the fighting.. Both regiments fought extremely bravely in the spring of 1918 when they were in the 119th and 121st battalions, which were part of the 40th Division in the 3rd ARMY. The 40th were defending a 3 mile length of the front line, just south of Bois Grenier, against the Germans massive spring offensive, ‘Operation Michael’. The river Lys was at their rear and the Portuguese 2nd division was on their right and the British 34th Division on they left. The Germans fought with new tactics [Stormtroopers], and fresh men that had just become available from the Russian front. The Portuguese were completely overrun and this is considered the worst defeat in the Portuguese military history. When the Germans got to the river, they turned and moved along the river behind the the British threatening to cut them off. The 40th lost so many men that day, and the following weeks of that ‘Offensive’. The whole of the British front line was pushed back many miles. I have been researching my uncles 21st Middlesex service in spring 1918, and I believe the above to be correct.

    • Hi , Sorry I wrote the above without reading the title ‘Middlesex reg on the Somme’., and the major part was in 1916, The 1918 actions were certainly in the Somme area, but are known as other battles.

      • Indeed, but this site was a Centenary website for the 1916 Battle of the Somme. It’s not a site about 1918.

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