The HAC in the Great War - August 2017


August 1917, for the 1st and 2nd Battalions,  was in the rain shadow of their very tough fighting in April and May.

For the 1st Battalion this had been in Gavrelle at the end of April; for the 2nd Battalion at Bullecourt in the middle of the following month. The 1st Battalion spent August out of the line, preparing for a new role as demonstration troops as well as guarding GHQ.

The 2nd Battalion spent a short but uneventful week in the trenches near Bullecourt before completing some very intensive training, firing in three weeks over a million rounds on the ranges but living in comfortable billets with access to cafes and bars. In contrast, the new battle at Passchendaele dominated the lives of the three artillery batteries now deployed in Flanders.

Beginning on the 31st July with early and exciting success, the battle quickly slowed due to the mud and in the face of brave German resistance. The HAC siege battery was particularly active, the history speaks of “heavy shooting and persistent rain”  of “unsightly dug outs, waterlogged trenches, shell holes, small, great and monstrous”. As it said ”The [Ypres] salient seared the senses, if not the heart..”.

In Egypt, A and B Batteries, now part of a force commanded by General Allenby newly arrived from France, trained and reorganised for decisive fighting that was to take place later in the year.