June 1916

Throughout June 1916, 11th DLI were stationed near Brandhoek on the Ypres Sector. Week by week it was a long haul of work on trenches, virtually without let-up. The battalion war diary even lists the names of the trenches: Strand, Haymarket, Garden Street, X8 Extension, Kaaie Salient, West Lane, White Chateau, Muddy Lane, Congreve Walk among them. They were not names normally found in Durham’s pit villages but reveal the odd mix of the familiar with the exotic and the technical used to designate the complex patterns of trenches on the Western Front. The repetitive and dangerous work was interrupted only briefly on 26 June when work was suspended due to heavy shell fire – the battalion had been out two nights before cutting the wire on the battalion and Guards fronts for some more of the pointless forays across No Man’s Land. On the 13th there was a memorial service for Lord Kitchener, who had been drowned at sea and on the 14th the war diary wryly commented: ‘Daylight Saving Bill adopted here at 11 am’. Well, you have to laugh don’t you?

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