June 1917

During the summer of 1917, the German Army was carrying out a controlled retreat to their new positions on the Hindenburg Line. Far from making life easier for 11 DLI, this meant even more work, while the Germans continued their constant bombardment. During June, the battalion HQ was at Vaulx-Vraucourt and comments in the diary demonstrate the conditions. On 3 June, thirteen men were wounded by an explosion of an ammunition dump at Vaulx, hit by shells. As the diary reported: “Bn HQ is situated in a large garden, but position anything but comfortable. Our battalion being in fairly close proximity to the HQ, the billets come in for more than a fair share of splinters from hostile shells bursting NE and SE of us, although the shells drop fully 500 to 600 yards away. The Coys are equally uncomfortable excepting perhaps D Coy, in Vraucourt.” The sole fatality was Private 9992 Thomas Frederick Roper, who died of wounds at 60th Field Ambulance on 22 June.

The second half of the month gave some respite from trench work under shell fire, for a few lucky ones. A few men went off with Captain Philip to Valerie-sur-Somme for 14 days rest at the seaside, while a group of officers and NCOs went to Bapaume for a lecture on wiring from the Royal Engineers. At the end of the month the billets were cleaned up and the battalion set off for Domart for a period of R&R.