May 1917: what the battalion could do

During May 11th DLI HQ was based at Ytres. They were under Divisional instructions to complete the wiring of the new Reserve Line under command of the Royal Engineers, although it was immediately postponed due to a lack of small screw pickets! A day later, work began. In one evening the battalion wired 1700 yards of the right sector and 650 yards of the left sector, with a 16-foot apron and loose wire.

The next evening work began on a new communications trench. It was to be six feet deep excluding parapets, two feet wide at the bottom with passing places, width at the bottom to be determined by the soil structure (chalk and clay), with drains towards the road. The trench was to be camouflaged. Despite periodic gas alarms, the trench was dug and camouflaged to a depth of 4 feet for 520 yards in one night. Everything, including another support line was completed by 20 May. Not bad, considering the battalion was at just over half strength at the time.

As the month progressed, so the battalion was moved forward to do the same sort of work all over again, more wiring, more communications trenches, plus roads and Decauville railways. It was virtually non-stop following the painstaking retreat of the German forces.

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