On 15 July 1916, 3,150 men of the 1st South African Brigade were tasked with clearing the Germans from Delville Wood. This was part of the Somme offensive and General Haig’s ‘great push’ to end the war. Under exacting conditions, including inclement weather and enemy artillery fire, the South African Brigade managed to roust the German’s southern edge, but failed to secure the northwest part of the woods, near Longueval. The South Africans were outnumbered by 2:1. The heavy shelling and rain meant that trees had been upended and the ground was a mud slough. From 15–19 July the brigade grimly held on, fighting hand-to-hand and enduring one counterattack after another. They were finally relieved by British forces. Fighting ended in an Allied victory after seven weeks.
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