28 September: The Germans advance on Albert but 119th and 120th Regiments are halted by the French 64th and 137th Regiments. The Germans hold La Boisselle and a farm on the southeast edge, known as the Granathof or Ilôt.

8 October: German attack at Bécourt fails.

End November: Germans begin mining towards the Granathof.

November – December: French sap to within 3 metres of the Granathof.

17 December: An attack by the French 19th and 118th Regiments north of La Boisselle is defeated by fire from the German 119th and 120th Regiments in La Boisselle but the French 118th Regiment rushes the village cemetery.

24 December: The French heavily shell La Boisselle and 118th, 62nd and 64th Regiments attack, capturing the Granathof. The 64th Regiment is halted in La Boisselle by a German gun concealed in the crypt of the church and withdraws.

25 December: The French 11/4 Engineer Company begins four mine shafts inside the Granathof.

27 December: The German 120th Regiment attempts to retake the Granathof but is prevented by the French 64th and 118th Regiments.

End December to March 1915: The Germans transform La Boisselle into a fortress, using over 5,000 wagon loads of material including almost 60,000 sandbags.



2 January: Germans blow mine aimed at the Granathof, but have accidentally laid it beneath their own trenches.

5 January: Germans blow mine under French line but cause little damage.

8 January: German attempt to capture Granathof fails.

10 January: French blow mine and attack. Germans halt attack with heavy fighting around the farm.

14-15 January: German attempts to capture Granathof fail.

Mid-January: Germans begin mined dugouts 5-7m below ground to shelter troops.

18 January: Germans raid the Granathof and partially destroy cellars and mine shafts.

7 February: Germans blow 2,500kg mine again damaging Granathof cellars and mine shafts and burying eight French miners whose bodies cannot be recovered.

4 March: Lieutenant Dohollou, 19th Regiment, commanding Company 11/2 bis, mortally wounded constructing a trench which is named in his memory.

10 March: French attack and blow mine at NE corner of Granathof, infantry attack driven back.

26 March: French blow mines of 2,600kg and 1,000kg. Attack is also unsuccessful.

31 July: British troops arrive at La Boisselle, 1/7th The Black Watch take over the trenches from French 19th Regiment.

17 August: British 179th Tunnelling Company arrives, works alongside French 11/3 Engineer Company until it departs on 22nd.

26 September: 179th Tunnelling Company accidentally kill eight men when blowing a mine and are unable to recover their bodies.

13 October: British troops now call the La Boisselle sector the ‘Glory Hole’.

17 October: A professional mining engineer is appointed to command 179th Tunnelling Company in place of the Regular Royal Engineer officer.

3 November: 185th Tunnelling Company takes over eastern portion of La Boisselle tunnel system.

11 November: New tunnel in Lochnagar Street started by 185th Tunnelling Company.

20 November: A 179th Tunnelling Company shaft reaches the water table at a depth of 36m.

22 November: German mine kills 6 men of 179th Tunnelling Company and 7 men of 10th Essex Regiment.

9 December: 179th Tunnelling Company blow mine of 4,082kg.



2 January: 179th Tunnelling Company blows mine of 4,536kg and 5 443kg.

4 February: Germans blow camouflet of 2,000kg against 185th Tunnelling Company, killing by carbon monoxide two officers, including the commander, and 16 men.

14 February: 185th Tunnelling Company blows mines of 6,530kg, 2,268kg and 5,443kg.

1 March: 185th Tunnelling Company sent to Arras, 179th Tunnelling Company again take over whole sector.

27 March: British infantry of 1st Dorsets unsuccessfully raid German 110th Reserve Regiment at Y Sap, north of La Boisselle. The German are pre-warned and withdraw, the Dorsets lose one officer and three men killed.

10 April: Germans blow mines of 5,000kg and 6,075kg killing one officer and two men of 179th Tunnelling Company.

11 April: German 110th Reserve Regiment successfully raids 1st Royal Irish Rifles south of La Boisselle, killing one officer and nine men.

4 June: German 110th Reserve Regiment twice raids 21st Northumberland Fusiliers south of La Boisselle on the first occasion unsuccessfully, killing five men but losing five men, on the second successfully, capturing 17 men.

5 June: 24th and 26th Northumberland Fusiliers raid German trenches but fail to capture prisoners.

24 June: British begin preparatory bombardment for attack opening the Battle of the Somme.

26 June: British attack with poison gas from 632 cylinders on either side of Glory Hole. 24th and 26th Northumberland Fusiliers again raid German trenches but fail to capture prisoners.

1 July: 7.28am 179th Tunnelling Company detonates four mines: one at Y Sap of 18,144kg, two at the Glory Hole of 3,629kg each and one at Lochnagar of 27,215kg.

1 July: 7.30am British infantry attack from north of the River Somme.  French attack from boundary with British to River Somme. At La Boisselle the 34th Division suffers 6,380 casualties but fail to capture the village.

4 July: La Boisselle captured by British 19th Division.

17 Responses to Timeline

  1. My Great Uncle Willie Millar was taken prisoner during the attack of the 36th (Ulster) Division on 1st July 1916 towards the Schwaben Redoubt. Willie and his pal also called Willie stopped (against strict orders) in a fold of ground to dig out a man buried a few seconds earlier by a large shell and who was frantically waving one arm sticking out from the soil. As they pulled him free a party of Germans descended on them and, as they were technically unarmed at that moment, elected to take them prisioner. He spent the rest of the war in a POW camp somewhere in Germany where by gathering waste scraps of wool he managed to knit a huge jumper (which is still in the family) to help keep warm during the three winters of his captivity. He and his pal Willie both lived into their nineties but his youngest brother David was blown to bits in April 1918 on Kemmel Hill near Ypres Belgium after only 5 days out and is commerated on the memorial to the missing at the rear of Tyne Cot Cemetry, Panel 138 to 140. Finally my Dundonian Grandfather b. 1888 who joined the second battalion Black Watch in 1907 and was on foreign service in India at the outbreak of war was wounded at the battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915 recovered in a Camp set up by Lord O’Neill near Randalstown in Northern Ireland and met my Grandmother at the camp Post Office. He died in 1966.

  2. Hi,
    My great uncle Samuel Horne 35yrs was reported missing on July 16th 1916 in Ovillers. Reported killed in action by July 18th. He was in 1/5 Warwickshire regt. His name is on Thiepval memorial. Family tales mention that he was fetching water for his comrades. I am due to visit the area on the weekend of 16/07/2016, staying in Bapaume. Does anyone have any ideas exactly where he may have fallen, and any theory on the water carrying please? Any extra info will be of great help.
    Regards jason 01/07/2016

  3. My great uncle Percy Victor Harper was killed on 1st July 2016; I am trying to find out where the 11th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment may have actually been on that awful day. Many thanks, Philip.

  4. I am a direct descendant of Sgt. Arthur Finney, 179th Tunnel Coy. In my family treasures I have a disarmed detonator from a delayed reaction mine which my grandfather disarmed at Raches Railway Station during WW1.I also have his D.C.M. that he was awarded with for this action. Arthur is interned at Woronora Cemetery, Sydney, Australia. Does anyone have more information on this event or happenings of the 179th Tunnel Coy?
    Thank you Barry Finney

  5. My father Alexander Vinycomb service number 1942414 had been a tin miner and was a lance corporal in the 185th tunneling company. He died in 1943 soon after I was born and is listed by the War Graves Commission as having been awarde the Military Medal. I would like to find his citation for this. Can anyone help me or give me more information about him.

    many thanks


  6. My Great Grandfather and his bother both served in the Great war. Both were employed at the Francis Colliery at the outbreak of the war, John Paterson was a shafts-man and Hugh (my Great Grandfather) was a miner.
    Both brothers were mobilised with the Territorial Army, Black Watch 1/7. John was gassed during a rescue attempt when a non-commissioned officer and a private fell down a shaft, for this John would later receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal. After recovering for the gassing in hospital John was later transfer to the Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action on25th April 1918.
    John was the first soldier in the 1/7 Black watch (Fifes Own) to be decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

  7. it also shows the date 1st July 1916 this may well be the date that WH BLADON died.

  8. I am ex military and have been asked by a friend who as found in the attic of his father who died recently an old English/French dictionary from 1914 1918 in this dictionary the following details are written==sapper WH BLADON NO 19914 179 TUNNEL COMPANY RE AND THE NAME OF MAMMETZ WOOD (WHICH IS MISPELT) my friend would love to find any living relatives of this person in order to pass this book onto them please help

  9. My great uncle George Moody from Yorkshire (a coal miner) was in the 179th tunnelling company. He died in July 1917 and is buried in Flanders. His widow (my great aunt) was like a second grandmother to me as she did not remarry. My paternal grandmother was her younger sister. I have his photograph and a button from his uniform. He was born in Yorkshire but enlisted in the Cameronians (rifles) at York. I knew nothing about him until started researching him for my son who is doing WWI in History in school and will be visiting Flanders in 2014 with school. Any other information about his service would be of great interest to us.

  10. re walter deas from leslie fife scotland of the 179th tunneling company i was in leslie the other day and was wondering if you would like photos of the war memorial and the area where walter lived pre 1914 im afraid that the house was demolished in the 1980s and flats were built on the site but the houses on the other side of the road are still there. yours etc dave ramsay

  11. My paternal grandfather, b. 1869 in Tipton, Staffordshire, was among those tunnelling underground in the Somme. He, like many survivors, was reluctant to discuss the 1914-18 war. How does one find out more about the activities of ancestors involved in those terrible events? I know his name, rank and number but little else of his war service.
    One tale that survives is of him being underground with his team and hearing his dead mother’s voice repeatedly, with increasing urgency, telling him to get his men out. This he did, to be confronted by a passing officer demanding to know why he had brought his men to the surface – at least, into a trench – before the end of their shift. As he drew breath and tried desperately to think of an explanation that might satisfy the officer, there was a mighty explosion and clouds of smoke and debris came from the mouth of the tunnel into the trench. “Ah! Very good Serjeant, carry on!”

  12. I discovered this website whilst researching my wife’s grandfathers uncles WW1 service. Joseph Hynes was one of four brothers that served in the great war, two brothers were killed and two badly wounded. The Hynes brothers lived and worked in the mining community of Lochgelly in Fife, Scotland. Three of the brothers joined ‘The Black Watch’ and another joined ‘The Cameronians’ (Scottish Rifles) but only Joseph was transferred from his original regiment to 179th Tunneling Company Royal Engineers.


    Lochgelly, Fifeshire
    Black Watch 1/7
    WD 13/3/16 4.30pm during relief of shifts a trench mortar bomb burst amongst B Section party near S4 shaft head killing [Hynes & Farrington & wounding Young (DoW) Firth & Ballantyne].. 179 Coy WD 14/3/16: 3.20pm buried Albert Military Cemetery.
    Albert Communal Cemetery Extension I.A.28.
    I discovered that Joseph’s Black Watch battalion was posted to La Boiselle in 1916 and have considered that as a professional miner before enlisting he and probably many more of the Battalion were transferred to the tunnelling company. I confirmed that his brother died at Neuve Chapelle almost a year earlier but I as of yet have been unable to find any records of the remaining ‘Black Watch’ brothers service records and if they were involved with The Tunnelling Companies.

    Your website is an excellent source of background information which has been lacking regarding the exploits of these courageous men.
    I will be following your work frequently.


    • Hi, my name is David Ramsay. My great granduncle Walter Deas from Leslie, Fife, Scotland also served in the Black Watch, reg. no 2557 and transferred in the field to 179th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers, reg. no 137549.

      Walter is remembered on the Leslie war memorial beside the the Green Hotel as you enter the town from Glenrothes. The tunnellers were paid six shillings per week whilst the standard pay for Royal Engineers was two shillings and sixpence per week.

      Walter died 02/09/1917 and was buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium 03/09/1917.

      Dave Ramsay

    • my great granduncle walter deas was a miner in 1914 and originally served in the 1/7th black watch. enlisting on the outbreak of the war and served for one year. he then transferred in the field to 179th tunneling company. serving until his death in september 1917. walters numbers were black watch (2557) and royal engineers (137549)

      yours etc dave ramsay

  13. I came to your site via research for my Uncle who was with the 10th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment at the start of the first battle of the Somme. According to records from war diaries for the Gloucestershire Regiment he was in the First Division and the most likely event that preceded his death from wounds would be the activities from Mametz around July 4th 1916 to La Boiselle and Contalmaison or the Bazentine Ridge July 14th to July 17th 1916. My Uncle was taken from the battlefield to a military hospital on the Normandy coast, died of his injuries July 17th 1916 and is buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport.

    Is there any documented evidence available from the excavations that tell us what happened at La Boiselle and can any of your research indicate what happened to soldiers advancing there ?

    I want to visit the sites connected with my Uncle’s WW1 service. Is La Boiselle a place of interest for such a visit ? Many thanks J.Clare

  14. has any television company done any documentary coverage

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