As noted in an earlier post, my great grandfather, John William Saunders of the 17th Battalion Kings’ Royal Rifle Regiment, was wounded and taken prisoner near Ypres in June 1917. The following detail is taken from the battalion’s war diary for the month of June 1917.
At the beginning of June 1917 the 17th battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps was moved back to E Camp and set to work on railway construction alongside the 9th Battalion Canadian troops. Others were constructing dugouts on Canal Bank.
1/6/17 : the diary reports that 2 men were killed, 5 wounded, 8 gassed and 1 wounded at Duty (all were “Other Ranks” ) .
16/6/17: the battalion moved up to the Front Line – Hill Top sector. Whilst holding this line the trenches were heavily shelled day after day. A listening post was attacked by the enemy patrol, bombs were thrown and 3 men were wounded. Support came up, the enemy were cleared and one wounded man was taken as prisoner.
20/6/17: 2nd Lt Eckersley was informed whilst on observation work that a man of the 117 Trench Mortar Battery was wounded and in a dugout that had been blown in. He immediately went to the man’s assistance and after some difficulty, under heavy shell fire, succeeded in extricating the wounded man and carrying him to safety.
23/6/17: bombardment with gas shells
24/6/17: the battalion was relieved by the 16th Rifle Brigade in the Front Line and moved back to Right Support, accommodated in dugouts on the Canal Bank, finding working parties daily.
An image from 1917 showing soldiers near the Ypres Canal.
Image: NLS under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
Casualties during tour in Front Line:
Killed: 2nd Lt L.D Welter; 2nd Lt F Longley (7th London regiment , attached)
Also killed: 9 Other Ranks; wounded: 39 Other Ranks: missing believed prisoner of war 1 Other Rank.
30/6/17: Battalion relieved in Right Support Hill Top sector and moved back to divisional reserve.
Casualties during tour on Canal Bank:
Other ranks- killed 3; died 1: died of wounds 3; wounded 18.
I assume that the “Other Rank” reported missing believed prisoner of war is likely to be John William Saunders as there is no mention of any one else being taken prisoner. The Gefangenenliste from the camp at Limburg states that he was captured at Ypres on 23rd June 1917. From there he was moved to the hospital in the Schillerschule at Wurzburg.