The 7th Battalion Norfolk Regiment
12th October 1916
On 2nd October 1916 the 7th Norfolks moved to Bernafay Wood and went into the reserve with the rest of the 35th Brigade while the 36th and 37th Brigades occupied the front-line facing Gueudecourt. On 10th October the 35th Brigade relieved the 36th Brigade and were given orders to prepare for an attack on a German position called Bayonet Trench on 12th October.
By now the autumn weather was setting in and the conditions in the trenches were terrible. Although you could define the line here the actual trenches were by now flooded holes full of the dead on both sides and the smashed equipment of successive attacks that had failed.
The assault was timed to go in at 2.50 p.m. and would involve all four companies going in as D, C, B and A with the 7th Suffolks advancing on the Norfolk’s right and a battalion from the 30th Division, namely the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. They were to move to capture Luisenhof Far after they had secured Bayonet and Scabbard Trench. They would advance on these positions under the cover of artillery.
The battalion had only advanced 50 yards when they came under machine gun fire from both flanks and as they continued onto Bayonet Trench they came up against uncut wire. This along with the heavy machine-gun fire stopped the advance in its tracks and the men had to retire to shell-holes.
This then resulted in the Norfolks firing on German soldiers who were standing up in their trenches firing at them. This caused a number of casualties on the German side.
The 7th Suffolks fared better and managed to get into the German line and but were forced out by Germans bombing them out. The Norfolks got close to Bayonet and Scabbard Trench and attempts were made to cut the wire here. But the wire was too strong and they were forced to retire to their start line.
Losses here were 9 officers and 212 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. This left 8 officers and 350 other ranks when they were relieved by elements of the 29th Division and marched to Mametz Wood. By the 25th October 1916 they were away from the Somme battle area and had moved to Arras.