7th London Regiment on the Somme

IMG_4266The 7th Battalion London Regiment was a pre-war Territorial Force battalion which was known as ‘The Shiny Seventh’ as it was the only non-rifle regiment in its brigade: rifle regiments wore black buttons and the brass or ‘shiny’ ones worn by the 7th made them stand out. Like all London Regiment Battalions they became a mini-regiment in 1914 forming three battalions: 1/7th, 2/7th and 3/7th. The 1/7th Battalion had arrived in France as part of the 140th Brigade, 47th (London) Division, in March 1915 and fought at Festubert and Loos in 1915, and then served at Vimy Ridge before they moved down to the Somme.

The battalion entered the Somme via Yvrencheux, marching down from Vimy. It went into rest at Naours, where massive underground chalk quarries were used to shelter troops. After some further training, the battalion moved up to Albert on 12th September and entered the trenches near Bazentin le Petit. It took part in the attack on High Wood on 15th September 1916 when tanks were used for the first time. After two days of fighting they were relieved and marched out via Albert to Hénencourt Wood on rest.

The battalion returned to front line on the Somme in early October in the sector beyond High Wood in front of the fortified farm at Eaucourt l’Abbaye. They took part in an attack on the Butte de Warlencourt on 7th October 1916 in which the leading waves were wiped out by machine-gun fire. Three days later they were relived once more and marched back to Albert. Total casualties since the fighting at High Wood were 30 officers and over 600 men. By 16th October the battalion had left the Somme to move north to Flanders.