January 1917

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.

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