100 Years Ago

November 1915 by Lyn Dyson

1st Battalion

The 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire regiment started the month in the trenches at Ploegsteert in Belgium. It rained heavily and this caused the trenches to fall in, and the men were very wet after a few days, but remained cheerful. From 4th November the weather was fine, and they were able to set to work with repairing the trenches. Two Germans were shot by snipers. The normal routine of periods in the trenches, followed by periods of rest, was followed, with no major activity reported. Most of the time was spent on trench work.

2nd Battalion

For the 2nd battalion, who were in billets in Les Harisoirs, France at the beginning of November, it was very wet and the men returned from a working party with the Royal Engineers, thoroughly soaked through. On 4th November they took over trenches at Cuinchy and then Givenchy, with periods of rest at Mont Bernechon,and Le Quesnoy. It was a relatively quiet time, and although there were periods of shelling, no men from our villages were killed.

5th Battalion

The 5th battalion remained in Lala Baba until a thunderstorm on 26th November severely damaged their trenches and washed away a lot of equipment, blankets and kit. It was a bitterly cold night and the trenches were deep in water; the cookhouse was flooded and fires were impossible. Conditions were described as deplorable. The next day orders were given to evacuate unfit men, but the rain turned to snow and there was a heavy blizzard. One man died of exposure, and two sick men on stretchers, waiting to be evacuated died. Three other men were found dead from exhaustion in the trenches.

Conditions had improved slightly by the end of the month, but the shortage of blankets was a problem. Extra rum rations were appreciated.

6th Battalion

The 6th battalion spent November in the trenches at Le Touret and Richborg St Vaast. A lot of men were suffering from trench foot. From 18th November they were resting at La Tombe, Willot and then Le Sart, near Merville. They were cleaned up and re-equipped. A good deal of bathing was done.

7th Battalion

The 7th battalion travelled by train to Marseilles from 10th November, and sailed on HMS Hannibal on 14th November bound for Salonika in Greece. They marched through the town to a camp on the hills just outside the town, where they remained for several months.

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