Through the efforts of the previous nights the line had been pushed up to within four hundred yards of strong German posts on the outskirts of the village of Herleville. These were garrisoned, as later found out, by a portion of a Guards Division specially brought from reserve with instructions to stay at all costs and repel any attack that might be attempted. They were supported by strongly reinforced artillery which was always active, and its fire rising frequently to barrage intensity.
The 24th, 22nd and 23rd Battalions held the 6th Brigade frontage from left to right, with the road leading to Herleville running between the 24th and 22nd Battalions. About four hundred yards in front of the 22nd Battalion was a crucifix, joined to the village by a sunken road and traversed in places by trenches and bordered on the far side by a high bank which served as a parapet for a strongly held trench. Around the crucifix itself there was a simple trench system. Orders were received to attack on the following morning at 4.15am.
So depleted was the Battalion’s fighting strength that they could muster only 90 bayonets across three Companies for the attack, far too few to cover the ½ mile frontage allotted to them and for ground that had no particular value. These facts were most strongly represented but orders were nevertheless issued that the attack would take place. Wave formations were impracticable and thin section groups were formed for the attack. Owing to the limited artillery available the barrage was arranged in lanes only on selected places.