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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Hill 60: trouble understanding war diary entry


dutchbarge

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Hello, I'm having trouble understanding a 1/Bedfords' War Diary entry of 4 May 1915. The Diary states,

"A 'switch' was made in our line, during the early hours of morning, so as to shorten it. Result was that left of Battn rested on corner of trench line, instead of line being prolonged eastwards of half a mile. Enemy soon noticed withdrawal & advanced: spent most of day enfilading our trenches with artillery. Trenches knocked about in places but casualties very small".

I can't suss out whether they vacated a section of trenches to their left or pulled back to other trenches. For either move half a mile seems a long distance. And the first manouver would leave a gap in the line of half a mile (and their left flank in the air), and the second manouver, unless there was a general withdrawal, would leave theirs AND both flanking battalions' flanks in the air. I'm obviously not getting this right. Can some one please sort me out. Cheers, Bill

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It sounds to me as if the original trench system formed a salient. The switch trench would cut across the neck of this salient and thus shorten the length of line to be defended.

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It sounds to me as if the original trench system formed a salient. The switch trench would cut across the neck of this salient and thus shorten the length of line to be defended.

That was my thought at first also, and there WAS a salient, the Zwarteleen, but this was to the right of the Bedfords' positions and held by the 1/Dorsets. Further, the diary says the shortening was to the East, while the Zwarteleen Salient was to the West. On the May trench maps of Hill 60 in Nigel Cave's book 'Hill 60' (Battleground Europe, Ypres) it seems apparent that anything approaching a shorteneing of a half mile is quite out of the question as the entire length of the Bedford and Dorset position was under 1500 yards. A bit of a mystery! Cheers, Bill

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