Published By Ben Hillidge
Bethune. Hulluch. 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 1 – 4 June 1917.
At the end of May 1 Bn KSLI had been in billets close to Béthune. On 29 May they were ordered back into the line relieving the 1 Bn Buffs in trenches to the west of Hulloch. They would spend a week long tour in the line. On the 1 June and 4 June they made 2 raids on the enemy line at Hendon Alley and Herring Alley. The raids had the objective to collect intelligence.
1 June 1917 –There were to be 4 assault parties supported by a covering party, in all 135 men. Zero hour was 1.30am on the morning of 1 June. Twenty minutes before a barrage of trench mortars and machine guns commenced and the men moved out and assembled in front of the British wire in no man’s land. At zero hour they rushed the enemy line and quickly established themselves in Hendon and Herring Alleys and set up ‘blocks’ to prevent the enemy reinforcements coming down the trench. Other men advanced down communication trenches to clear the second and third line. The covering party meanwhile positioned themselves in no man’s land to cover the retreat. The enemy resistance was soon quelled with 16 killed and one prisoner taken who was subsequently shot as he was being taken back. The bodies were searched and shoulder epaulettes cut off to identify their regiment. Meanwhile dugouts were search and then destroyed with demolition charges. A specialist group of royal engineers also searched for gas cylinders and appliances but none were found. After about 45 minutes the retreat was ordered and, five minutes later, the raiding parties were back in their own lines. Casualties were 3 ranks killed and 2 officers and 12 ranks wounded some of whom were hit by the British supporting barrage
4 June 1917 – The raid was on the same place attacked on 1 June. It was thought that the gaps in the wire would still be open or had been indifferently repaired and that it would be possible to surprise the enemy and secure prisoners. 2 officers and about 100 men would undertake the raid divided between an assault and a covering party. However, almost as soon as the covering artillery barrage started the Germans sent up SOS rockets and within minutes shell began fall on the Shropshires’ lines. Also, it was found that the wire had been well repaired and men had difficulty getting through. They reached the enemy trench and managed to set up a strong point but progress was hindered by rolls of wire dumped in the trenches and intended for the repairs. After 10 minutes the recall was given. As they returned they ran into the enemy barrage causing most of the casualties – 2 DoW, 3 Officers and 12 OR wounded, 1 missing, believed blown up.
GOOGLE MAPS Centres on approximate area of Hendon Alley
References and Sources WAR DIARY 1 Bn KSLI June 1917
B&O 1917. Loos. 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. May – June 1917.