May 1917

Battalion headquarters for May 1917 were at Ytres, but the various companies and platoons might be dotted anywhere around the general area on work parties – mostly digging communications trenches and wiring at night, with roadworks for variety. There was an audit of the battalion’s actual strength of numbers, which reflected how depleted they had become. Nominally there were 36 officers (of whom 6 were away on other details) and 903 other ranks (of whom 112 were away on other details), making a nominal strength at HQ of 821 out of 939. But the actual working strength of the battalion was estimated at only 540.

Towards the end of the month, the battalion moved from Ytres to Bancourt where they took over from 5th Australians in the line – tunnelling, mining, trench repairs, laying Decauville railway, making dugouts, shifting around the lines as required. Three officers (Hayes, Palmer and Philip) and four other ranks (Dawson, Johnston, Boyne and Seggar) were mentioned in despatches and the fact recorded in the diary. Pemberton was temporarily moved up to Captain, while 2nd Lieutenant Adams went off to Peronne to be interviewed for the Royal Flying Corps. A pretty typical month for a Pioneer battalion.