February 1918

At the beginning of February, 11 DLI were still in the Ypres Salient. Their numbers were much diminished, standing at 41 officers and 672 men on the nominal roll. Effective strength was probably much smaller, and not much more than half a battalion. Nevertheless they continued with their usual work improving trenches and communication systems.

The problem of numbers was being resolved behind the scenes as part of a massive re-organisation. A bit like modern times, it was portrayed as improvements in efficiency but was actually ‘savings’ and cuts. Each battalion lost a Company, reducing the effective numbers of men in every Brigade and Division by about one third. On 8 February, 118 men joined the battalion from 14 DLI along with several officers: Captain Endean and 2nd Lts Martin, Duckett, Banks, Barrans and Tottle.

Finally, on 17 February, the battalion was relieved by 9 North Staffs Regiment and marched out to Dickebusch, then on to Rocquinghem. They spent a few days there practising drill, parades and musketry to bind the new recruits into the system and get everyone used to the influx of new officers. On 21 February they entrained in two batches, one under Captain Endean and one under Captain Sear, at Steenbecque Station, from where they headed south. Their new encampment was near the town of Nesle and they were billeted in the villages around at Muille Villette and Golancourt. It was decided that the Company to be disbanded was C Company, the men re-allocated to the other Companies. The remaining A, B and D Companies set to work on improving a railway between Ham and Nesle. It was the calm before the storm.

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