HAC WWI - On This Day 100 Years Ago...

‘A’ Battery spent May 1915 settling in to new positions at El Kantara, where an old Sinai Desert caravan route crossed the Suez canal.  The area had been under attack in February 1915 but little had been seen or heard of the enemy since - although a small Turkish force, led by a German commander, remained out in the Sinai Desert conducting occasional raids.  ‘A’ battery was positioned either side of the canal in two sections and since the pontoons bridging the canal were only rarely in place the two sections led almost independent lives. It was a dull existence and sports and leave to Cairo was organised to make it more bearable. ‘B’ Battery also spent May 1915 on the Canal, training in the desert where experience gained in the care of horses in the waterless tracts was to prove invaluable later on. For the British the focus of the war on Turkey had shifted for the moment to Gallipoli.


France:  Members of the 1st Battalion in a bivouac in Railway Wood in the Ypres Salient, May 1915

From 24th March to 31st May 1915 the 1st Battalion, in France, were in trenches near St Eloi, on the Ypres Salient. They alternated with the Wiltshire Regiment, four days in and four days out.  Casualties mounted steadily, attrition caused by shell fire, sniper fire and accident. The diary for 17th May notes that an apparently disabled Zeppelin was sighted north of their positions at 3.30 AM and heavy firing was heard to the South all day.  The battalion moved into the trenches that night to relieve the Wiltshires.  It was a  very dark night and two “panic fights” with heavy rifle fire on their left and by the Germans to their  front delayed relief.  The soldiers had  great difficulty owing to darkness and wet condition of ground.  Two men were wounded
 
It is worth noting that the 2nd battalion had been raised by this time and was stationed at the Tower of London from February to August 1915, where it endured the first of German air raids on London. The Company had by now raised two infantry battalions and two artillery batteries for the war effort.