Rain, Mud and Fire: 31 July 1917

The 11 DLI Pioneers’ Battalion Diary for 31 July is economic in its description of the day, over several separate entries.

  • At 1.30 am, the men arrived at Canada Farm.
  • At 8 am, B and D Companies moved forward to work at the Canal Bank, joined by A Company at 2 pm.
  • By 4 pm they were road making from the Canal Bank to trenches captured from the enemy by 20th Division infantry.
  • At 4pm work stopped temporarily due to heavy rain, but 11 DLI remained on the work all night. Rations and water came up at 6 pm (the first meal since breakfast). While this was going on, the enemy targeted the east side of Pilckem Ridge with artillery fire, answered by Divisional artillery from 8.30 pm. A few gas shells landed.
  • The Pioneers did not return to camp until afternoon of the following day.

The Divisional History describes the scene in the afternoon as the rain came down: ‘The tracks forward were not yet completed; one road was passable, but only as far as the old German front line. As a result of our bombardment the ground was a mass of shell-holes, with pill-boxes blown upside down and debris scattered everywhere, difficult enough for infantry to move over and almost impossible for guns.’

The rain would continue for three more days.

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