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Billets, leave and wagon lines


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I'm interested in finding out about leave patterns for the rank and file in heavy artillery batteries on the Western Front, typical billeting practice for them, and also where the wagon lines were and how they worked. Any advice and pointers on sources, especially online ones, would be much appreciated.

 

Battery and Brigade war diaries I've been working with are fine for positions, daily actions and casualties, but not for these away-from-the-front-line matters. Wagon lines are constantly mentioned, but with no clues as to where they were, what they looked like or how they functioned. Officers' leave is detailed down to the individual man, but there's nothing at all about those under them. And in the material I'm working with - war diaries from the Battle of the Ancre and after, and the 3rd Battle of Ypres - billets are never mentioned. Obviously, if anyone has signposts for material specific to these theatres, and along the line in the period between these two battles in the Ginchy - Gouzeaucourt stretch, I'd be most grateful.

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Worth trying the Imperial War Museum's Documents and Oral History archives. They might well contain accounts by members of heavy batteries.

 

Charles M 

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Wagon lines are described on this earlier thread

Leave for other ranks was a contentious issue and again a forum search is a good place to start.  There are no reasons to suggest it was any less contentious than it was in the infantry.

 

As for billets, while they may have been in buildings as the war progressed tented camps became more common.  This was due to increased numbers of men and the destruction of buildings.

There are many memoirs that describe billeting and the general standard of accommodation which varied widely, though these are not specific to the RA.

 

Ken

Edited by kenf48
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On ‎30‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 19:18, charlesmessenger said:

Worth trying the Imperial War Museum's Documents and Oral History archives. They might well contain accounts by members of heavy batteries.

 

Charles M 

 

Thanks, Charles, for the pointer to the IWM, which I've found very useful for this, especially as it has plenty of footage of wagon lines. Also I stumbled on the wealth of aerial photography - a useful cross-fix on trench maps from other sources.

 

Thanks too to Ken for your comments. Does anyone happen to know if 'leave' or 'rest' could have been weeks rather than days in March-May 1917 for a heavy battery after operations on the Ancre? And in towns that hadn't been heavily damaged yet?

 

David

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David

 

Leave would have probably been 10 days or two weeks at most, including travel time. It is likely, however, that all leave would have been stopped from the beginning of April 1917 because of the Battle of Arras. 

 

Charles M

 

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