The HAC in the Great War - May 1917

After the fierce fighting around Gavrelle the 1st Battalion was relieved by the East Yorks and went into billets for nearly the whole month of May, except for 5 days in the Gavrelle line between the 20th and 25th May.

Reinforcements arrived from England to fill out ranks badly thinned by April’s fighting and the battalion trained and drilled in sometimes brilliant weather.

The focus now switched to the 2nd Battalion, which was to be equally heavily engaged around Bullecourt; as a result of which ten of its soldiers were awarded immediate Military Medals. The Bullecourt fighting was close, confused, bitter  and costly, to both the British and Australian divisions engaged. When the 2nd Battalion was finally withdrawn it had been reduced to 4 officers and 94 men. 5 officers had been killed and three wounded with 250 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.

A new arrival in France was the HAC’s 309 Siege battery, which landed with 6 inch howitzers on 26th April 1917 and moved into the line on 5th May, firing their first shot of the war on 10th May near Ypres.

In Palestine A Battery was out of the line for nearly the whole month, after the unsuccessful 2nd Battle of Gaza and B battery, though moving south east of Beersheba, with the Imperial Mounted Division, remained unengaged. In England 2/A and 2/B Batteries, both formed in 1914, were preparing to move to France.

Caption: Private Horace Bishop (right) with two friends in France, c.March 1917; Bishop was killed in action at Bullecourt on 15 May.