Repairing Wells: 406 Field Company R. E.
by cyngast moderator
This page from May, 1917, contains several comments that working parties are repairing wells at several villages, and I have begun to wonder why the wells needed repair. My first thought was that the Germans had deliberately damaged them, but these villages are all located south and southeast of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise, an area where, to the best of my knowledge, the Germans never invaded. The only thing I can think of is that the wells had simply fallen into disrepair, perhaps because the young and middle-aged men who would normally have kept things working, were in the French army. Or perhaps the villagers couldn't get parts that the Royal Engineers were able to supply. I'd love any thoughts or input on this.
The men of this unit are also busily engaged in building staging and seats for an upcoming Follies and getting an area ready for the Divisional Horse Show.
by ral104 moderator, scientist
It's difficult to say for certain, but possibilities include:
- they were old wells pressed back into service to supply the army
- they were damaged by artillery fire at some point
- they were damaged by more extensive use than they'd been designed for
by David_Underdown moderator
The Germans certainly did undertake a scorched earth policy in their retreat to the Hindenburg Line in April 1917, damaging and booby-trapping things that would have otherwise been useful to advancing Allied troops, but as you say this doesn't seem to be in quite the right area.