Away from the Western Front : 27th November – 17th December 1917

Wilhelma

Templers
Children of Wilhelmia outside the community  centre.

 

The Ottoman forces had retreated further north to the area around Wilhelma. This was  a successful agricultural colony founded in 1902 by the German Templar movement and named for the Emperor of Germany,  Wilhelm II.  For the Finsbury Rifles a return to trench warfare and artillery bombardment seemed likely. They were fortunate not to suffer any casualties during this engagement unlike their sister battalion, the 1/5 BEDS (5th Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment).

While the Ottoman forces had simply requisitioned whatever foodstuffs they needed, the policy of the EEF was to buy additional supplies on the open market while on campaign. Prices were consequently often high but meant that there was no lingering resentment towards the army.

The loyalty of the German residents of Wilhelma towards the EEF was not taken for granted.  The following year they were interned in Egypt and not released till 1921.

 

Date 27/11/17

Orders received for battn to move into a more forward position. Heavy Turkish artillery fire on our front line and German colony of WILHEMIA. Bn moved forward 1130 and occupied WADI KEREIKAK. Bn ordered to dig a forward line to the wadi and to hold at all costs.

Date 28/1/17

Location WADI KEREIKAK

Reciprocal shelling at intervals. Bn at work on new line. Lt Robertson and 16 other ranks rejoined from 75th Divisional training.

Date 29/11/17

Reciprocal shelling at intervals. Bn at work on new line. Enemy aircraft very active and flying low and gunning front line and bivouac areas. Work on new line proceeding. Heavy reciprocal shelling at night.

Date 30/11/17

Bn still engaged in digging new line. Reciprocal shelling at intervals. Orders received for Bn to relieve ¼ NORTHANTS reg in front line. Lts SANDERCOCK and HEILGERS to hospital.

Date 1/12/17

Preparing to move forward into WILHEMINA line and relieve 1/14 NORTHANTS. Bn moved 1730. Relief completed and line taken over by 2000. Night quiet.

Location WILHELMA Date 2/12/17

Slight enemy shelling of WILHELMA and front line. Work on trench line during night. Patrols to TE twice nightly from left and right patrolling Bn front.

Date 3 to 7/12/17

Reciprocal shelling during each day. Work on trench line continued with assistance of strong working parties from 2nd ALH and 1/14th NORTHANTS. Work only possible at night. Reserve company in town digging in and engaged in fatigues. Movement restricted in town during daylight owing to enemy having observation from 3 sides. Weather unsettled and much rain. Mail begins to arrive from England. Rations improved by issue of fresh meat and bread,  butter eggs and milk being purchasable in the town from the German inhabitants who have displayed a more or less friendly attitude.

Date 8/12/17

Weather very bad- heavy rain all day making transport work very difficult. Work on trenches still continued with our own and outside working parties. Lieut D ROBERTSON entered hospital. Enemy and our patrols active during the night, slight reciprocal shelling.

Date 9/12/17

Celebration of Holy Communion by Regt chaplain in village schoolroom at 0645. Weather wet and unsettled. Bn order no 5 in moves for 9/10 attached.

Date 10 to 14/12/17

Usual working parties by night on front line trenches. Reciprocal shelling by day, night patrols carried out by companies in line. CAPT AT LEWTHWAITE returned from English leave (14.12.17) WILHELMA defence scheme attached and marked.

Date 15/12/17

Usual reciprocal shelling during the day. Work at night on front line trenches assisted by working parties from NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES. Night patrols as usual. 2nd LT LS LEE 7th MIDDLESEX Rgt reported for duty with the Bn.

Date 16/12/17

Celebration of Holy Communion in village school room at 0700. Quiet day. Preliminary orders to move into reserve received.

Date 17/12/17

Preparations for move from WILHELMA.

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