November in the Great War
The 1st and 2nd Battalions were close enough to meet around 19th November, but not before the 1st Battalion had been through two days of very heavy fighting that reduced it to the strength of one company in total, with only four unwounded officers. This fighting, more often than not in thick fog, took place between 13th and 15th November, commencing with a barrage of a thousand guns, the noise of which made giving orders almost impossible. In two days the battalions, along with other elements of the Naval Division, attacked constantly and pushed beyond Beaucourt, showing extraordinary determination and grit. By the end of the first day it was noticed that the enemy avoided close quarter battle, sometimes surrendering if the troops manged to approach within 50 yards of their positions. But the Battalion was exhausted by its efforts, sometimes without food and water, often subject to accurate sniping and shellfire.
The 2nd Battalion marched over 100 miles in the first half of the month, closing on the Somme battlefield and moving into the line in Beaumont Hamel, “a desert of mud and shell holes”, on 29h November. Six men were killed by snipers and shellfire as they relieved the 21st Manchester’s. The Battalion’s accounts marvel at the sophistication, size and safety of the Germans’ dugouts.
A and B Batteries remained in Egypt, where B Battery fitted pedrails to the wheels of their guns to make movement on soft sand easier.