Friday 19 May 2017

1st/5th Bedfords Relieved

Battalion Headquarters in the Front Line - from The History of the Fifth Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (TA)

Saturday 19th May 1917

Last night 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was relieved from the front line near Gaza. By exchange of telegrams, your correspondent was able to learn something of what they had been doing in their tour in support to the front line and in the front line itself in addition to what has been reported in the last few days.

During the whole period the Battalion found working parties. The whole Battalion less necessary specialists worked at communication trenches for three to four hours each night, cutting a considerable length of new trench and openings to allow stretchers to pass, another the long length. The whole battalion was employed for about four hours a day - generally between 7 and 11 a.m. - on erecting terraces and dug-outs and also in building splintered roof verandahs on these terraces which act as protection nfrom artillery to the dug-outs behind.

During the period that the Battalion was in the front line trenches six hours work a day was performed usually from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 7 to 11 p.m. This work consisted chiefly in reconstructing fire bays, levelling parapets and heaped up traverses, widening and deepening the communication ways behind the firestep and constructing deep dugouts and company headquarters.

There has been a considerable amount of sickness and a very large proportion of this is due to slight abrasions got while digging, and at other times, becoming septic. It was found useful for each company headquarters to keep a bottle of iodine and some cotton wool and orders were issued that any man who grazed himself, however slightly, was at once to be iodized.

Meanwhile at Hulluch on the old Loos battlefield 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment’s commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Ampthill has left the battalion and proceeded to General Headquarters for employment under the Director of Labour. The new commanding officer is Major H R McCullagh.

Sources: X550/6/8; X550/9/1

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