Birth of a Regiment

 

The Pattern of Battle

In trying to recapture some sense of what it was like for a soldier in the Patricia’s it is important to understand that the average length of service with the Regiment on the western front was just under a year. Only 84 of the originals stayed with the regiment until the end of the war. Almost 1600 spent less than four months with the regiment. Even these numbers somewhat overstate the case as they do not include time recovering from wounds, on leave or training. When men were with the Regiment, most of the time was spent out of the front lines. A usual rotation for a company would be four days in the front lines, four days in supporting trenches providing working parties, four days in brigade reserve supplying working parties and four days in divisional reserve resting. Typically, an entire brigade would be taken out of the line for two weeks every three months. This is not to suggest that the periods out of the line were without risk. A tour in support would involve night time carrying parties to take forward food, water and ammunition to the line. Although railways and other forms of transport improved, for the final kilometre or so immediately behind the front line, the infantry soldier remained the primary beast of burden throughout the war. Time at the front varied dramatically in intensity. Looking at numbers killed, there are eight periods marking major battles separated by lengthy periods of relative quiet. Seventy five percent of all deaths occurred in less than forty days of combat. Even in the rear areas, there was almost always the threat of long range artillery bombardment.

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