September 1917

Most of September 1917 was spent based in Seaton Camp or on the Yser Canal Bank, from which the Pioneers of 11 DLI rebuilt new British lines and all the infrastructure to support them. Early on in the month that meant making new tram lines, building supply dumps with the Royal Engineers, and laying communication cables. Amazingly they found time within that for a parade at which medal ribbons were handed out (on the 5th) and even a Sports Day (on the 8th). There was work carrying munitions to the forward dumps, wiring the new front line and building more trench tramways.

All the time this was going on, further attacks were being launched and six of the Lewis gun teams under 2nd Lt Atlay were allocated as supporting anti-aircraft details. On 20 September, A Company constructed four new strongpoints in the new front line, but their comrades from D Company only had time to construct one – their infantry guide got lost on the maze of muddy tracks, so by daybreak they had run out of time. The men were then called into action as infantry, with four Lewis gun teams in the main attack and another four as anti-aircraft batteries, to support the much depleted 20th Division’s attack on Eagle Trench. The infantry battalions were by now down to an average active strength of about 350 men.

Next day, or rather night, it was back to road repairs and trench digging until 25 September. They were finally relieved on 29 September and moved back to Seaton Camp for a short rest. Six officers and 53 men were struck off the battalion list, as ‘killed, wounded or sick’. Sergeant Thomas Bashforth had been slightly wounded, but stayed on duty.

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