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Remembered Today:

XI Corps, 6th July 1917


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I am researching the air combat on the evening of 6th July which saw the deaths of Lt George Mutch and 2nd Lt J Taylor. According to TSTBII they were conducting an artillery reconnaissance on the XI Corps front.

Can anyone tell me which Battalions were holding the line on that date? (I hope to find reference to the air combat in their War Diaries).



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Hello John

You are unlikely to find anything about the air war in battalion War Diaries. In any case, a corps normally contained about three divisions, each with thirteen infantry battalions, so it would be a long job! You would stand a better chance if you look at the diaries of the Corps artillery commanders:

WO 95/888 Commander Royal Artillery 1915 Nov. - 1917 Nov.
WO 95/888 Commander Royal Artillery 1918 Apr. - 1919 Apr.
WO 95/888 Commander Heavy Artillery 1916 Jan. - 1917 Nov.
WO 95/888 Commander Heavy Artillery 1918 Apr. - 1919 Mar.
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Obliged, Ron.

I have seen reference to aerial activity in Bn war diaries before, so I live in hope!

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Please ignore - Completely the wrong year :wacko:

61st division were in XI corps. Their diary for that day says; An increase in the activity of the enemy's planes was noticeable.

183rd Brigade took over Fauquissart sector, 4/Glosters and 7/Worcs holding line from 3rd July until 9th.


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Out of curiosity I looked at XI corps diary and scratched my head for a while!! Then realised what I said on post#4 was for July 1916.

In contrition I've now looked at a few diaries and XI corps give dispositions of divisions/brigades for 24/6/1917 and 12/7/1917.

For 24/6/1917 they have; 57th Div, 49th Div, 2nd Div, and 1st Dev. CEP (Portuguese).

For 12/7/1917 they have; 57th Div, 2nd Div, and 1st Dev. CEP (Portuguese).

Specific to 6th July 1917.

Aerial activity is mention in 57th Div, 170th Infantry Brigade HQ diary. Mainly bombing rear areas.

57th Div, 171th Infantry Brigade HQ diary. Considerable aerial activity on both sides - several combats in the air took place, the only result observed being that one enemy aeroplane was forced down.

2nd Div, 99th Infantry Brigade HQ Diary. Enemy aircraft activity above normal, several machines crossing our lines.

57th Div, 171th Infantry Brigade Trench Mortar Battery. Aircraft - renewed activity on both sides, about 10.30 am an enemy machine appeared to be forced down at D.1.d

XI Corps diary WO95/882/3

During the night, hostile aeroplanes dropped bombs on Bethune (12), Merville (2), Hebuterne (2), Crois du Bac, Armentieres and elsewhere in 57th division area (a large number).

Rather frustrating I know but at an XI corps conference 12/7/1917 they noted about air activity;


Perhaps WO95/882/4 has an update for July, Aug & Sept.


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Sir, you are a gentleman.

The combat I was interested in took place at 20.20 hrs (presumably German time) when an RE 8 was shot down in flames by 5 scouts from Jasta 11.


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Apart from the 171 Infantry Brigade mention of several combats everything else I saw referred enemy aircraft being used for bombing, artillery assistance, dropping flares/smoke, reconnaissance over British trenches and occasional strafing of British trenches.

I had a quick look at the Infantry Battalions of 171 IB without much luck, they are:

2/5th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
2/6th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
2/7th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
2/8th Bn, the King’s (Liverpool Regiment)

I didn't look at any Divisional Troops, RE, Artillery or Medical diaries, I guess they could have witnessed the event even away from the trenches.


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Looks like I'll have to get myself an Ancestry subscription, TEW. Thanks.

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You could spend a lot of time at your local library where they can be viewed for free, or, worth contacting Ancestry and discussing what you require. I think there are options available that will save you some money, if you state it's only British War diaries + whatever else you might need. I have always found them very helpful. Click


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I did wonder if ground forces witnessed aerial combat from afar at dusk whether their aircraft recognition skills were at 100% in terms of the 'enemy' ones they saw come down.

Also, I didn't work out how the XI corps front was held in terms of who was where. The 57th Div seem to see aerial activity but perhaps another Corps on their flank had a better view.

Seems that running an artillery reconnaissance mission might have been a bit questionable. High numbers of various enemy aircraft about, flying at altitude as well as low over trenches. Bombing, strafing, spotting, dropping flares and smoke.


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