Monday, 18 September 2017

A fateful transfer...

In March 1916 the 13th (Forest of Dean) Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment were posted to northern France. A few weeks later William Britton, of Bristol, completed his basic training and was posted to the 13th. He likely joined the Battalion in France, as a member of 'D' Company, with a draft of men arriving in May. By November 1916 the 13th Battalion were in the Ypres area in Belgium, where they remained throughout 1917.

The 2/6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment were west of Arras in July 1917, but at the end of the month moved to northern France. From here, in mid-August, they moved to the Ypres area where time was spent in training. Mid-September they were once again on the move; heading back to northern France first, and a day of rest, then on 18 September they entrained at Cassel station bound for Arras.

It is probable that when both the 13th Battalion and 2/6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment were in close proximity near Ypres, August-September 1917, that William Britton transferred from D Company 13th Battalion to A Company 2/6th Battalion.

Trench map from November 1917.
British trenches (blue) / German trenches (red)
'Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland'

On arrival at Arras the 2/6th Battalion marched approximately 7 miles west to billets in Simencourt. Having rested and completed a few days training they marched to Hull Camp, at St. Nicholas, near Arras. In the latter part of September, they were working in the support trenches under the Royal Engineers; then on 30 September the Battalion forward to the front line trenches, relieving the 2/4 Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. Following a few quiet days they in turn were relieved and returned to Hull Camp. There followed another period of rest and training, before returning to support trenches as working parties, then back to front line trenches on 22 October.

The latter part of October saw British trench raids and retaliatory action by the Germans, resulting on 23 and 24 October in 2 men killed and 9 wounded from the Battalion. Artillery fire also caused considerable damage  to the Battalion's trenches. Following this there were a few quiet days, after which the Battalion was relieved and they moved back to support trenches on 28 October.

For some, this respite from the front line trenches was to be brief.

The two men killed in October were:

War Diary - 2nd/6th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment
23  October 1917 - Front Line Trenches
Quiet day. Some retaliation in evening, as a result of a raid made by Battn. on our left. 1 O.R. Killed. 2 O.R. Wounded.

23 October 1917 - Lance Corporal Arthur Charles Ryland
203462. 2nd/6th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment
Buried at Sunken Road Cemetery,Fampoux, France
Born 1888 at Painswick, Gloucestershire, England, the son of William and Eliza Ryland.

War Diary - 2nd/6th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment
24  October 1917 - Front Line Trenches
2/4 Glos Regt & 2/7 Worcester Regt raided the enemy trenches on our front in the afternoon. Heavy retaliation by enemy military, doing considerable damage to trenches. Enemy again retaliated on our front during and after raid made by a Battn on our left in the evening. 1 O.R. killed and 7 O.R. wounded as a result of this

24 October 1917 - Corporal Arthur William Myhill
267235. 2nd/6th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment
Buried at Brown’s Copse Cemetery,Roeux, France
The Gloucestershire Echo of Tuesday 6 November 1917 includes Corporal Myhill in a list of local men awarded the Military Medal.
Born 1887 at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, the son of Albert and Amelia Myhill.

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