Messines Sector - Flanders 16th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles - Pioneers.
Towards the end of August the 36th Division moved a little further north to take over from the 50th Division with its left boundary south of the Kemmel – Wytschaete Road and its right flank being the River Douve. As a result the 16th moved its HQ and numbers 2 and 4 Companies to Dranoutres.
The heat of August turned to the arrival of September and torrential rain. The new trench positions also needed extensive repairs, which were too much for a single Pioneer Battalion, so each Brigade was tasked to form labour squads and carry out repairs to their own sections. To assist in management of the work some experienced members from the 16th were attached to each work group. The Battalion’s own workload still included the full range of Wiring, Trenches, Saps, Dugouts and Screening.
When it rained (as it often did for days and weeks on end) water would still gather within the defensive lines so it was necessary to use inverted timber A-frames in upright positions at regular intervals and insert timber planks(duck-boarding)to provide reasonably dry underfoot movement throughout the trenches. Beneath the decking was a void one or two feet in depth through which the excess water could flow to outlet drains.
A small stream running through the area caused deep flooding in rainy periods all of which added to the Pioneer’s tasks which were carried out, often in full view of the German Artillery observers.
The Divisions positions were also on low lying ground with little or no cover and the enemy had a commanding view from his positions on the Messines Ridge.
Another necessary defensive measure was the need for extensive screening along roads and communication routes to protect personnel and traffic from being in full view of enemy artillery and snipers. This also helped to protect work parties after the screens were in place.
Improvements to Billets and Quarters together with the construction of Horse standings continued until the end of September.
Major Gardiner, Second in Command, was posted to 20th Bn Royal Irish Rifles in Newtownards and his place taken by Captain Allen, promoted to Major with Lt Maxwell appointed as Adjutant.
September Casualties - Other Ranks several wounded, numbers not given.