Richebourg-l'Avoué is a village and former commune in the Pas-de-Calais region of France. It was merged with Richebourg-Saint-Vaast to form the commune of Richebourg on 21 February 1971. Miliary operations began in the area during September 1914, when the opposing armies made several reciprocal attempt to outflank their opponent to the north during the Race to the Sea (17 September – 19 October).
Operations continued in 1914 at the Battle of La Bassée (10 October – 2 November) and continued in 1915, during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10–13 March 1915) and the Battle of Festubert (15–25 May).
An attack was planned for part of the 39th Division to capture the Boar's Head, a German salient near Richebourg-l'Avoué, on 30 June 1916, as part of the effort made by the armies north of the Somme to support the offensive, by harassing the Germans opposite. (From 1 July – 18 November, 310 raids were made on the German lines by the Third, First and Second armies.)
Battle of the Boar's Head
The attack on the Boar's Head was fought on 30 June 1916, to divert German attention from the Battle of the Somme which began on 1 July. The attack was conducted by the 11th, 12th and 13th (Southdowns) Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment, part of the 116th Southdowns Brigade of the 39th Division (Major-General G. J. Cuthbert). The preliminary bombardment and wire-cutting by the artillery commenced on the afternoon of 29 June and was reported to be very effective. The final bombardment commenced shortly before 3:00 a.m. and the 12th and 13th battalions went over the top (most for the first time) shortly afterwards, the 11th Battalion providing carrying parties. The guns lifted their fire off the German front trench and put down an intense barrage in support. The infantry reached the German trenches, bombing and bayoneting their way into the German front line trench and held it for some four hours.
The second trench was captured and held for about half an hour, during which several counter-attacks were repulsed and then withdrew, because of a shortage of ammunition and mounting casualties. The German support position was not reached by the infantry, because the German defensive tactics included shelling trenches, where the British had gained a foothold. In fewer than five hours the three Southdowns Battalions of the Royal Sussex lost 17 officers and 349 men killed, including 12 sets of brothers, three from one family. CSM Nelson Victor Carter was awarded a Victoria Cross (posthumous) for his actions in the battle. A further 1000 men were wounded or taken prisoner. In the regimental history this is known as "The Day Sussex Died". The Corps commander looked upon the attack as a raid and considered it to be successful.
The Le Touret Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery and memorial is sited here. It was begun in November 1914 by the Indian Corps (in particular by the 2nd Leicesters), remaining in use until the end of the war (barring a time in German hands in April–August 1918). The Le Touret Memorial is part of the cemetery. The Rue-des-Berceaux CWGC Cemetery is also sited here and includes the burial site of New Zealand tennis star Tony Wilding.
- Miles, W. (1992) . Military Operations in France and Belgium, 1916: 2 July to the End of the Battles of the Somme. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence II (Imperial War Museum and Battery Press ed.). London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-89839-169-5.
- Wiebkin, H. W. (1923). A Short History of the 39th (Deptford) Divisional Artillery 1915–1918 (PDF). London: E. G. Berryman. OCLC 697621967. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
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- Richebourg 1916
- Old Front Line Battlefields of WW1, Boar's Head
- The day Sussex died
- CWGC essay The Battle of the Boar's Head
- CWGC website