My last public talk on the 11th Durham Light Infantry took place in York on Saturday 12 January 2013. It was an excellent turn-out at the Yorkshire Branch of the Western Front Association and they gave me a great reception. I hope they enjoyed the talk as much as the applause at the end seemed to show.
I have now sold out of my personal stock of the book, and the publishers no longer stock it, but it can still be bought from on-line sellers. I have had the publishing rights returned to me by the publishers, which frees me up to do something different with the material in the future and lifts any contractual restrictions on what I put on this blog site.
Will I do further talks? Definitely not on the subject of the battalion history as such, but I won’t absolutely rule out doing talks on the general issue of grassroots study of the First World War – at least after a few months’ rest and the chance to work on some of my other projects. And I will continue posting material on this site from the battalion war diary as well as some other features yet to be dreamed up!
The brief rest for 11th DLI came quickly to an end as 1917 got off to a start. The adjutant, Lieutenant Tollitt, went off sick. The battalion was split up with B Company sent to Combles and the rest sent to Wedge Wood, near Guillemont. Everyone got down to the usual routine of Pioneer labour – improving trenches, revetting, drainage and tunnelling. Building supply dumps was a common activity, carrying in materials and creating stacks of wood for fuel. It was of course the depth of winter and conditions were cold and miserable, with some heavy snow fall in the middle of the month. A batch of replacement clothing that came in proved to be filthy. Fortunately some groups of men got to go home on leave – one group led by 2nd Lts Davey and Philip including my grandfather, Thomas Bashforth, for his first trip home since August 1915. Equally fortunate was the arrival of a new draft of 82 NCOs and men – “NCOs appear to be a good set; they are men of over 12 months Home Service and have attended a month’s course at NCO School, Eastern Command”, commented the adjutant. By way of ‘entertainment’, an enemy airplane was brought down at Wedge Wood on 25 January and the pilot captured. At the end of the month the battalion was moved back to Meaulte for a proper period of rest.