Friday Jan 11th, 1918
Rough through the night but easier as day goes by. Warned for drill but wash out so route march and fatigues.
Learning to march, was and still is an essential part of military training, consequently it was a skill which Frank and his comrades would have been taught in their initial training, a process which typically lasted three months. Route marches served a number of purposes. They installed a sense of military discipline in the recruits and taught them the most effective way to move as a large unit. Importantly, they also improved individual fitness, with route marches gradually building in length, concluding in marches that often extending over many miles across rough terrain.
Being trained to march proved invaluable when the soldiers were finally deployed. In the First World War and all wars prior, marching on foot was the primary means of moving troops. Transporting troops by vehicles was a relative rarity and soldiers would be required to march between their camps and the front lines. In Salonika, marching was possibly even more crucial because of the rough roads, lack of vehicles and mountainous terrain.
13th (Service) Battalion War Diary – Minden Camp, No.1 Sector
While Frank has not yet joined his Battalion, it was on the front line. Today’s diary entry follows:
Our Artillery were active all day. The enemy place a few 77mm shells on our front lines. At night the Right Coy reported a large working party on the pill box in O2 which was then shelled by our 8 pounders. Our aircraft apparently did a raid on the enemy dumps behind Piton Chauve. An enemy plane appeared over our lines for ten minutes in the afternoon. Enemy wire in front of O2 was patrolled by 3 OR (other ranks) and was found to be in good condition. Other usual route patrols had nothing to report. 6 OR having rejoined are again taken on strength from 9-1-18.
References & further reading
Photograph, copyright of IWM
Boff, J. 2014. Training to be a Soldier, The British Library, Accessed (10/01/18)
Clouting, L. From Civilian to First World War Soldier in 8 Steps, IWM, (Accessed (10/01/18)
13th (Service) Battalion War Diary, entry for 11th January 1918, from the National Archives