Thiepval on the heights above the River Ancre was once a thriving village centred on a handsome chateau. As with countless other places in France and Belgium, it was destined to be utterly devastated by the war. During the course of the huge Battle of the Somme, Thiepval was reduced to nothing. Its commanding position sealed its fate for the Germans quickly saw that it was a strong defensive position capable of dominating the surrounding country. Inevitably, the British had to capture it before their forces could advance elsewhere. The attack on 1 July 1916 was a failure made more tragic by the fact that the men of the 36 Ulster Division achieved a stunning advance on its outlying boundary. Unable to maintain their toehold due to the failures on their flanks, these brave Irishmen had been forced to concede all their gains and return to their original positions. Thiepval then remained stubbornly beyond the hands of the British and it was gradually obliterated. After much careful preparation, the British finally captured the village in a well-executed, but hardly bloodless, assault in September. However, this did not mark the end of the war for Thiepval, for it was fought over twice more in 1918 first during the great German advance in April and then for the last time when the British passed back through it in August.