The HAC in the Great War - June 1917



Perhaps the most significant event in June 1917 was the arrival of the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force at the Tower of London, where they were hosted by the 3rd Battalion. The Americans had declared war in April and this was the first sign of the mighty strength that the United States would bring to the war. The party included General Pershing, and a certain Captain Patton, who was to make his mark as a general some twenty six years later. The Tower also suffered under the first daylight aeroplane bombing raid, with the moat and the mint both being hit.
 
Following the arrival of 2/A and 2/B batteries on 21st June, there were now three HAC artillery batteries in France and Flanders. Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions had lost heavily in April and May. The 1st Battalion returned to GHQ duties around Hesdin whilst Lieutenant-Colonel Richard O’Connor, who was to win fame against the Italians in the Western Desert in 1940, took over command of the 2nd battalion, which had been reduced to just 300 men. After a period of rest and reinforcement the battalion moved back into the line of 25th June, losing nine officers and men to shell fire before the end of the month.
 
In Egypt, following the check at Gaza in April, the month of May had been characterised by bad weather, with the kamseen constantly blowing black sand clouds. A change was in the wind however, and at the end of June General Allenby, fresh from France,  took over command of the Army and was about to infuse the force with his own brand of dash, imagination and success.