December 1918

On 1 December, 11th DLI was stationed at Cambrai and immediately 182 miners were sent back to England. The next day the rest of the battalion moved on by bus and lorry to Thiévres, where they were based for the rest of the week. This was part of a step by step move via Halloy to Grenas, where the battalion would be based for some time. At each step, a couple of days at a time, one Company went on ahead to inspect and clean up the billets, while the other Companies were on work details, joining later.

Once at Grenas, much of the work was on improving the billets, erecting new huts and making new horse lines and tidying up the HQ accommodation at Pas. On 20 December, 50 more miners were despatched back to England while 100 men set about making a Recreation Ground. Another 25 miners set off back to England on Xmas Eve, 24 December.  All that is said for Christmas Day is that there were Church Parades for the Anglican and Catholic men. For much of the remainder of the month, though some work was done, bad weather prevented much in the way of outdoor labour. By the end of the month, numbers had become much reduced to 679 other ranks on the roll call, though there were still 43 officers. In reality, the ration strength was 34 officers and 533 men. Demobilisation was progressing slowly but steadily, with miners the chosen ones.

As was customary, there was little mention of specific names other than the occasional reference to an officer. Second Lieutenant AH Lewis joined on 5 December with two more men. Lieutenant CC Page went to Lille on 15 December to attend a Chemistry course! On 31 December, three more miners went home while Lt E Fleming joined the battalion.


November 1918

For the first few days of November 11th DLI were constantly on the move as part of the steady forward progress of the Allied forces. Based at Cambrai on 1 November, there was an arms inspection. Captain Baines MC rejoined the battalion from a Pioneer course at Rouen on the 3rd and the battalion began its first move, a route march to Rieux. Next day they marched on to Montrecourt, where they were joined by Captain Tollitt, the adjutant, back from leave. There was a couple of days to rest and have feet inspected by Company commanders, before they moved on to Sepmeries on 7 November. Next day it was on to Jenlain and the day after on to St Waast. On 10 November most were resting while D Company worked on road repairs.

At 8 am on 11 November the battalion was wired to stand fast at 1100 am wherever they had reached. In practice they kept going on to Feignies, arriving at 1700 hours. Lt Myles Cooper rejoined the battalion from a course on the same day. There is no mention of any celebrations, though one can be sure there was a collective sigh of relief that the worst was over and the possibility of going home would arise at some time soon.

However, on 12 November everyone was hard at it repairing roads, and that was to be more or less the norm for the rest of the month. It was work as usual: road repairs, railway laying, salvage of stores, making fascines, filling craters, kit inspections and the like. The battalion remained on the move: Feignies, Le Pissotiau, Maresches, St Aubert and finally back to Cambrai where the month had started. Several new officers continued to arrive, and among them was Lt RH King who had won the MC during the March Retreat returning to the battalion. At last on 30 November orders were received to select 200 miners to be sent for medical inspection to check their fitness to be returned to England to take up their old jobs. At the end of the month there were notionally 40 officers and 940 men on the strength, though 9 of the officers and 100 other ranks were temporarily off the ration books. The war as such was over. Demobilisation had begun.