The Somme – Inside Delville Wood

Shown below is a larger scale map of Delville wood. Pictures 55-74 are relevant to this map.

Note: This is an interactive Google Map. By utilising the zoom-in function ( + button located in top left corner of map), you will obtain a closer view of the map, with location markers distrubuted and individually visible.

Entering the wood from the south, looking due north along Buchanan Street. Up ahead the memorial marker for the SA headquarters.
Walking north up Buchanan street, we come to the central ride of the wood, Princes Street, which runs east/west. This is the view taken from the intersection of Princes and Buchanan Streets, looking east. On the right, just above the two figures on that side, can be seen the outlines of the gray stone S.A. monument. On the lower left of picture the second stone marker beyond the two figures on the left, is the entrance to Regent Street. Princes Street in this direction runs all the way through the wood to the eastern boundary.
Standing on the exact same spot, the junction of Buchanan and Princes Streets, looking west toward Longueval. 1 and 2 platoons of A Coy 2nd regiment manned the right hand side of this sector. The buildings of Longueval can be seen in the distance. About halfway down the right hand side of Princes Street in this direction a recess to the right, bathed in sunlight is just visible. In the next picture I will move further west to that exact spot and take a picture facing north ( or to the right )…
Standing at the junction of Princes and Strand Streets, facing north along Strand Street. B Coy, from 5 platoon at this end, to 8 platoon at the extreme opposite end , manned the right hand ( east ) side of Strand Street. In 1916 the northern end of Strand street exited right onto the Flers Road – today, there is a fence line and some tree trunks separating them. The so called rides or Streets today are about twice as wide as they were in 1916.
We have moved to the northern end of Regent Street, looking south. At the far end can be seen the stone marker referred to in image 56. Once A Coy was in position on the northern boundary ( just behind the camera ) B and D Coy`s lined this Street next to each other. B Coy wheeled right ( west ) and D Coy wheeled left ( east ). For Aubrey, his last few steps had begun….

We have entered the wood  in the very area that 2nd Regt, 8 Platoon would have. We are headed due west to Strand Street, as they did, 100 years ago…The wood is uneven at this point and full of old shell holes. Looking to the right ( north ), one can see glimpses of daylight as the wood thins out on the northern boundary. That was no 4 platoon, A Coy position…
Advancing  due west.  Looking  north. Somewhere in this vicinity, the Germans penetrated A Coy positions as related in R Dewar`s letter….
Continuing  west. Lot of shell holes here… The bramble patches are becoming more numerous. These are deceptively high, about 4 ft above the surface in places. 7 Platoon were to the left, A Coy dug in to the right…
As we approach Strand Street, looking ( right ) North, the boundary fence is clearly visible.
Looking  left ( or south ) from the same spot, it`s grown pretty thickly over the last century. 7 platoons sweep area..
Keeping on west, Strand Street approaching ahead… Very close to this point, is where I believe A.N.Hutchinson was KIA. Just to south of A Coy positions, and close to where Lt Bru – de- Wold of A Coy was also KIA.
Looking south once again, from the same position, one can see on the lower right, about 30 m away, an impression of the remains of orchard trench.
Moving out onto Strand Street, looking east at the orchard trench, which winds its way back to Regent Street. Interestingly, this trench`s GPS coordinates, match those of WW1 trench maps corrected to 1 July. In all probability this was an original German trench.  Another, about 40 m south of this was popularly known as  “ devils trench “.  With the Germans aware an attack on the wood must come, but not when – it seems unlikely  that the trench was unoccupied as B Coy advanced toward it…
From the position of the orchard trench, looking due north, up the rest of Strand Street as it is today. This would have been a very difficult place to defend for 8 platoon, because they were exposed to fire from the left ( Longueval ), Right ( Flers road ) and behind ( As the Germans closed with A Coy )
Do not let the beauty of this wood deceive you – the Devil walks here !
Most of the SA men KIA here are not buried in Delville Wood cemetery. This was because of the shortage of stretcher bearers – priority had to be given to the wounded. The dead were left in shallow graves or shell holes, marked with a small wooden cross – not unlike the ones we left here this day. However the fighting over Delville Wood only ceased on 6 September 1916, by which time given repeated artillery barrages, these  wooden grave markers were destroyed. As a result the men whose bodies were never found  are commemorated on the monument to the missing at Thiepval, about 8 Km`s north. Here are a few however…
H.M Deeley of Durban. 2nd Regt B Coy.
Lt  J.G.Connock of the farm “ Apthorp “ near Ficksburg OFS. 2nd Regiment D Coy.
Eber Hudson of Durban. Stretcher bearer.  2nd regiment, B Coy.
A view of Delville Wood cemetery.  Important to realise that SA men are a small minority here. Fighting raged around this area for 3 months, with over 100 000 men being committed on both sides. There are graves from all over the empire, but mainly the UK.
The other half of the cemetery…The SA monument is in the background.
Right near where we felt that Aubrey fell, it was heartening to see someone had also placed a cross .  In memory of Laurence Wybrow, 3206 –  2nd  Regt  A Coy. Born London 1897. Clerk by profession. Resided in Durban. KIA 15/7/1916. RIP.
My choice of location. 15 July 2016, 13.30 hours. Culmination of 5 years of research about a young man, KIA at 19.
Lionel`s choice.
Richard`s choice.
Aubrey Neville Hutchinson’s commemoration at Thiepval monument.
Thiepval monument from near the entrance. Monument to so many.
Thiepval rear view.