At the end of August 1914 the author applied for a commision in the Yeomanry and in September was gazetted in the newly formed 2/1 Shropshire Yeomanry. He spent the next two years in England training as a cavalryman and a cyclist, a period he sketches over lightly in the first two chapters. Active service began towards the end of 1916 when he went with a draft to France where he was posted to the 6th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) and had to accustom himself to being an infantryman. His battalion was in 60th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division and he served with it till the eve of the German 1918 offensive, going home on leave on 20th March! He never returned to the battlefield, probably just as well because, as he himself admits, after 18 months his nerves were stretched to breaking point. The main event during his first few months in France was the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917 and the British pursuit in which his battalion was involved.His account of the two big battles in which he was involved, Langemarck (16th-18th August 1917) and Cambrai, the first mass tank assault, in the following November makes interesting reading. As he says, he avoided as much as possible, and it wasn’t always possible, the ‘gruesome and disgusting side of the war’ leaving all that to war novels. The narrative takes in the training and preparation for both battles and provides a good description of the fighting. Today there are two memorials to the 20th (Light) Division – at Langemarck and at Guillemont, a battle Dugdale arrived just too late to take part in.
“LANGEMARCK” AND “CAMBRAI”
Experiences of an officer of the 6th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry from September 1916 to March 1918