March 1916

By Lyn Dyson

There were no local casualties in March 1916.

The 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment started the month training at Outtersteene, near Bailleul, with emphasis on bayonet practice. On 10th March they began a march south to Ternas, and continued their training in bombing. They also organized some sporting events and a ploughing match, using army horses and French ploughs.

It was a quiet month for the 2nd Battalion. The men were split up with companies in separate billets for much of the time. Time was spent in cleaning billets, refitting and training when they were not involved in working parties. On 26th March they were given a demonstration of a captured German Flammenwerfer.

The 5th Battalion arrived in Basra on 1st March, but there were heavy floods and their camp was under water, so they had to remain on board the SS Ellora until 4th March. The next ten days there were heavy storms and more flooding. They sailed upstream to Sheikh Saad. From 24th to 30th March they were at Gomorrah where they spent most of the time repairing a dyke. There was a case of smallpox within the battalion.

At the beginning of March the 6th Battalion was in the trenches near Bethune. They were relieved on 4th March and went into billets from where they formed working parties for trench work, had baths at La Gorgue, did drill and training in bomb throwing, and set up working parties to carry materials through the trenches for the Royal Engineers.

There was some snow early in the month, but the weather improved in the middle of the month, only to get cold and snowy again later. The men had new boots fitted. During their trench work they suffered intermittent bombardment and sniper fire.

Meanwhile the 7th Battalion remained in Salonika. The weather was fine and the men were engaged in digging trenches. On 27th March there was an air raid on the camps at 5am. Four German planes were observed but no damage was done.

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