Thursday 29 December 2016

Trouble at Billets

Friday 29th December 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

Your correspondent has spoken with the adjutant of the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, today, which has returned to billets after a tour in the front line at Cuinchy over Christmas. It is fair to say that the adjutant, though keeping control of himself admirable, was very angry.

The Town Major is the officer in charge of any town under British Army occupation. Apparently the Town Majors of Beuvry and le Quesnoy do not know their jobs very well. Yesterday B Company and half the Battalion Headquarters were billeted in a former girls’ school at Beuvry. The Town Major then tried to evict them, claiming that the billets were intended for the 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment of 95th Brigade. Meanwhile C and D Company officers at le Quesnoy were forced to turn out to other and worse billets to make room for officers of the Machine Gun Corps.

This confusion was compounded in Beuvry where the Staff Captains of 15th and 13th Infantry Brigades had seen the Town Major and arranged for the former girls’ school to be retained by the Battalion until 1st January. This decision was then reversed by the 30th Division and the men had to turn out, again into much worse billets.

Baths had been allotted at le Qusenoy, but they were closed at midday and no others were allotted. Finally the Battalion were turned out from another billet so that it could be given to 13th Company, Machine Gun Corps who, as with the officers’ billets, have been given preferential treatment. The adjutant did not state the unit to which the Town Major of le Quesnoy belongs but we hazard a guess that it might be a unit which is largely equipped with automatic weapons.

Source: X550/2/5

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