At the end of January 1917, my grandfather, Sergeant 14956 Thomas Bashforth got back to the battalion from his first home leave. The battalion were enjoying a week’s rest, which comprised physical training, drill, bayonet practice and baths. On 8 February they went back into the line: A Company to Guillemont and the rest to Montauban, where the main Companies worked on the Hogsback Trench and one of several ‘Sunken Roads’. All leave was cancelled, though there was an influx of new recruits: an officer (un-named) and 89 other ranks. The men were hard at work all month improving trenches: dugouts, saps, duck walks, camouflage screens, shelters, knife rests, wiring and the like. During the last week they concentrated on road repairs and track laying around Sailly-Saillisel, Le Mesnil, Manancourt, Bus, Ytres and Lechelle. This was work probably building up to the assault on Le Transloy Ridge.
The only oddities were a couple of accidents: Private Tombling of C Company was accidentally burned (a communication from a descendant tells me that this was supposed to have been caused by a flame-thrower) and there was a court of enquiry on 13 February led by Captain Palmer. Two more men from C Company were accidentally killed in a train accident around 13/14 February – probably Private 25211 James Connfey (serving under the name Carthy) and Private 16241 John Salkeld Long, both of whom are buried at Boisguillaume Cemetery.