The Battle of Thiepval Ridge was the first large offensive mounted by the Reserve Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough during the Battle of the Somme and was intended to benefit from the Fourth Army attack at Morval by starting 24 hours afterwards. The battle was fought on a front from Courcelette in the east, near the Albert–Bapaume road to Thiepval and the Schwaben Redoubt (Feste Schwaben) in the west, which overlooked the German defences further north in the Ancre valley and the rising ground towards Beaumont Hamel and Serre beyond. Thiepval Ridge was well fortified and the German defenders fought with great determination, while the British coordination of infantry and artillery declined after the first day, due to the confused nature of the fighting in the mazes of trenches, dug-outs and shell-craters. The final British objectives were not reached until a reorganisation of the Reserve Army and the Battle of the Ancre Heights (1 October – 11 November). Organisational difficulties and deteriorating weather frustrated General Joseph Joffre's intention to proceed by vigorous co-ordinated attacks by the Anglo-French armies, which became disjointed and declined in effectiveness during late September, at the same time as a revival occurred in the German defence. The British experimented with new techniques in gas warfare, machine-gun bombardment and tank–infantry co-operation, as the German defenders on the Somme front struggled to withstand the preponderance of men and material fielded by the Anglo–French, despite reorganisation and substantial reinforcement of troops, artillery and aircraft from Verdun. September became the month most costly in casualties for the German armies on the Somme.
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