February 1919

The purpose of all the ceremonial parade practice became evident in February. There was a last dress rehearsal on 2 February in front of the CO (though another 15 men also left for demobilisation) before the Battalion was presented with its official colours the next day by Major General Douglas Smith, the 20th Division Commander. During the rest of the week there were days of Company Training, mixed with lectures from Major HC Boxer. Lt CC Page and 19 other ranks left for demobilisation on 6 February, followed on 8 February by Captain R Jee and Lt DJ Rees. During the second week the battalion was engaged in filling trenches around Mondicourt and both clearing up old camps while erecting new huts. Several more officers left, including Major Boxer (11 Feb) and Lt Myles Cooper (14 Feb). Lt AH Lewis and 5 other ranks left on 13 February. The same work continued during the third work, alongside salvage work.

Another feature of this period was the willingness of men to sign up for the Regular Army. On 27 February 163 men, with officers including Lt E Fleming, 2 Lts OG Day, WH Charnley, FE Upton, ER Harbron, BC Barrans, JH Dodds, MM Harrington, RE Forster and MA Latham, were transferred to join 20th Battalion the Durham Light Infantry in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. Others were not so keen and 31 other ranks left for demobilisation on 28 February. Although 9 other ranks had actually joined during the month, by the end the ration strength was down to 8 officers and 127 men. The scene was set for the gradual disembodiment of the battalion over the following four months. Meanwhile, men still on the nominal strength but on leave in England or detached to 3 DLI, were still dying, among them Private George Elsy in March, some like him from Spanish Flu. Also among their number was Lt DJ Rees mentioned above), in July 1919 having returned to the UK in the February.

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