The 29th Division used two brigades for the attack on the German lines, but under heavy German machine gun fire very few of them made it that far.
One hour after the initial attack a third brigade was sent in, but it too suffered heavy casualties for no real gain.
On this news the decision was taken to send in two more battalions, the 1st Essex on the right and the 1st Newfoundland on the left.
The Newfoundlanders had to come forward from positions 300 yards back to get to the British front line, and then faced another 300 yards across No Man’s Land before reaching the German front lines.
Their orders were to advance with all possible speed, so they climbed out of the reserve trench were they were waiting and advanced directly from there.
This presented the German machine gunners with an easy target, especially as the Newfoundlanders had to pass through several narrow gaps in the British wire.
As the German machine gunners found their target, these gaps were blocked quickly with dead and dying men.
Against all odds the Newfoundlanders just kept on coming, although they were going down in their hundreds under the machine gun fire.
All over in forty minutes
Forty minutes later it was all over. Of the 752 Newfoundlanders who had advanced, 684 men had either been killed or maimed.
On the right of the Newfoundlanders, the Essex Battalion advanced as far s possible up the communication trenches before going over the top. This took much longer – over two hours – but their losses were much smaller than the Newfoundlanders suffered.
The Germans also rebuffed their attack. Although huge losses were sustained throughout the day, no advance had been achieved.