April 1917 Filling Holes in the Road

During the ‘cruellest month’, to quote the poet, 11 DLI spent much of the time filling holes. Based around Bus, Ytres, Le Transloy and Metz, there was much work to be done making damaged roads passable as the Germans slowly retreated under successive attacks. It was part of a cleverly scheduled retreat using attrition and booby traps while a new defensive line was built – the Hindenburg Line. As they retreated, the Germans exploded mines under the roads and it was this constant need to keep roads passable that occupied the Pioneers for most of the month.

Part way through April, they were given a new task – to start the preparation of a Line of Resistance to be known as the Brown Line. Full details, incomprehensible to a reader that doesn’t have the appropriate maps and coded reference points, are listed on the 30th. Work with wiring is to start the following day ‘at distances of 35 and 55 ft in front of the trench with gaps every 100 feet.’

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