The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal - Vol 8 No 5

15-20 JULY 1916

First photo

Delville Wood after the battle

'The six days and five nights during which the South African Brigade held the most difficult post on the British front - a corner of death on which the enemy fire was concentrated at all hours from three sides, and into which fresh German troops, vastly superior in number to the defence, made periodic incursions only to be driven back - constitute an epoch of terror and glory scarcely equalled in the campaign. There were positions as difficult, but they were not held so long; there were cases of as protracted a defence; but the assault was not so violent and continuous . . The high value the enemy set upon [Delville Wood] is proved by the fact that he used his best troops against it ... The South Africans measured their strength against the flower of the German army, and did not draw back from the challenge.

As a feat of human daring and fortitude the fight is worthy of eternal remembrance by South Africa and Britain, but no historian's pen can give that memory the sharp outline and the glowing colour which it deserves.

At midnight on 14 July, when General Lukin received his orders, the Brigade numbered 121 officers and 3 032 men. When Lt Col Thackeray marched out on the 20th, he had a remnant of 143, and the total ultimately assembled in Happy Valley was about 750.'

Official History

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