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?


4 thoughts on “June 1916

  1. Hi Martin,
    Excellent website!!
    I am completing a one name study of Blencowe family who served in WW1 and Reuben Blencowe was in the 11th in France from July 27 1915 -1 Jul 1916 when posted home. He was wounded gunshot wounds to Chest and thigh, Any idea were he may have been wounded? I am thinking likely just before July 1 1916 is the most likely time. Where ther any casualties specified in war diaries?

    many thanks for your work
    Roger Blinko

    • Thanks for the information. I will add Reuben Blencowe to the Roll of Honour in due course. He enlisted aged 41 in the 6th Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, which formed part of 20th Division. Because he was a bricklayer by trade, he was transferred to 11th DLI, the 20 Division Pioneer battalion, on 2 February 1915. All this explains how a Banbury man got into a battalion of mainly Durham miners! You are right in assuming he was wounded just before 1 July 1916, when he was posted to the Depot. Unfortunately the medical record has not survived. During June 1916, the 11th DLI were based on Brandhoek in the Ypres Salient and carrying out a variety of trench work under heavy fire. He could have been wounded at any point during this month, but most likely towards the end. That is as close as the records show.

  2. Hi Martin,
    Reuben was age 41 when he enlisted in 1914 and a bricklayer, the Reuben who was 14 in 1911 was Charles Reuben his son.
    Reuben served 6 years prior to WW1 in the 6th Ox and Bucks Light Infantry (time expired) and enlisted 24 Sept. 1914 , he transferred 2 Feb 1915 to the 11th Battalion Durham LI which was (as you have pointed out in your blog) just prior to this time converted to a ‘Pioneer’ battalion designed to use the skills of people like Reuben a bricklayer. With two brothers also serving in the Ox and Bucks this was a departure for the Blencowes from Blencowe to serve for a Durham regiment.

    Reuben embarked with the 11th DLI on 20 Jul 1915 to France and one year later was wounded in action some time before Jul 1916, the wounds in the army records reported as gun shot wounds to chest and left thigh, but given his role ie Pioneer likely a shell wound i would have thought.
    On 1 Jul 1916 he was posted home.
    1 Sept 1916 transferred to the Training Reserved of Durham LI
    Discharged in 26 March 1917 at York K.R.392 (xvi)
    Awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British, Victory medals and the Silver War Badge.

    Reuben became a widower in 1915 when at war (he had fathered 10 children), he seem to have been full of energy for life as he re-married in 1919 at age 46 yrs. He died in 1942 .

    There were 317 Blencowe’s who served in WW1 only one for the Durham regiments , two Blencowes from Whitburn, Durham (two brothers Harry and Joseph) served but with the Royal Field Artillery, 2nd Devonshire Regiment respectively.

    Roger Blinko

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