During the final stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme, the Butte de Warlencourt was the subject of a number of costly and unsuccessful attacks by the British Fourth Army. It was never captured, only being relinquished by the Germans following their retreat to the Hindenburg Line in February 1917.
The Butte de Warlencourt earned an evil reputation and the British became somewhat obsessed with its capture long after any strategic benefits could be derived. The Butte dominated the British lines and was used by the Germans for artillery observation. The Germans also constructed deep dugouts throughout the Butte, making it a formidable defensive position.
The first attack on the Butte was made on 1 October, 1916 by the 141st Brigade of the British 47th (1/2nd London) Division following their capture of the nearby village of Eaucourt L'Abbaye. Another failed attack was made by the 140th Brigade on 7 October. The 47th Division's history described it thus:
The regiment most closely associated with the Butte de Warlencourt was the Durham Light Infantry. In November this sector was held by the British 50th (Northumbrian) Division which contained the 151st Brigade comprising, at the time, three Durham Light Infantry battalions. On 5 November the Butte was attacked by the 1/9th Durham Light Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Roland Boys Bradford who had just won the Victoria Cross at Eaucourt L'Abbaye. Initially the attack was successful with a foothold being gained in the German trenches however strong counter-attacks drove the Durhams out. The battalion sustained over 400 casualties.
Bradford summed up the fatal attraction of the Butte:
The land on which the Butte de Warlencourt stands was bought by the Western Front Association in 1980 and is the site of a number of memorials.