In the minutes immediately after 7.30am, all four waves of the Accrington Pals and Sheffield City Battalion were moving forward. Behind them, "C" and "D" Companies of both the Barnsley battalions moved up from Rolland and Babylon to occupy the trenches vacated by the 3rd and 4th waves.
On the other side of No Man's Land, German machine guns had by now been hauled into position, boxes of grenades and ammunition were being brought to the surface and riflemen were taking their place at the trench parapets. Machine gun fire began to scythe across No Man's Land with murderous effect.
On the left, two platoons of "C" Company of the Sheffield City Battalion were wiped out before reaching the German wire.8 At the head of the battalion, Capt. Clark was killed by machine gun fire in front of the entanglements.9 To left and right, men scurried along the wire desperately trying to find a way through. Only on the battalion's right - where there were gaps in the wire - were men able to force their way into the German front line trench.8
At the head of the Accrington Pals, Capt. Tough had been wounded before 7.30am. Continuing to lead his men forward, he was wounded a second time before being fatally hit by a machine gun bullet.10 The wire had been better cut in front of the Accrington battalion and - despite appalling losses - men from the first two waves broke into the German front line trench on the left and right.11
By 7.40am the remnants of the first two waves were engaged in bitter fighting at close range along the German front line trench on the right of the brigade front. The 3rd and 4th waves had suffered up to 50% casualties from machine gun and artillery fire before reaching the British front line and were now largely held up in No Man's Land.8
© Andrew C Jackson 1999, 2006