November 1917 Part Two

From 17 November 1917, 11 DLI HQ was based at W.5.b – somewhere near Gouzeaucourt. At 6.20 am on 20 November, 20th Division attacked the enemy trenches at Cambrai, following behind the tanks. ‘A’ and ‘B’ companies of 11 DLI were already moving forward at 6 am behind the tanks hastily constructing roads to allow cavalry to move forward. ‘C’ and ‘D’ companies followed afterwards at 6.40 am, digging a new communications trench from the British front line towards the German front line, before starting work on a road between Villers-Plouich and La Vacquerie, with two platoons continuing the same work throughout the following night. Lt. Dan Ellwood was in charge of 8 Lewis gun teams providing anti-aircraft cover for the attack and they then moved into the forward area to join the infantry brigades mopping up the former German lines. After all that excitement, from 21 November the Pioneer battalion resumed duty for the next nine days working on roads to support the new front line, with their new HQ base at Q 36.a.8.2. That was the Battle of Cambrai from the viewpoint of a supporting battalion. Then it would all unravel and 11 DLI would be right in the thick of it.

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