20th August 1917 Monday

Train trip to Pilkem Ridge

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“Next day I had a tour of inspection¬†‘up the line’, going off early – 5 a.m. – in order to get comparative peace from shell fire. I went off with two N.C.O.s up the train-line to Stray Farm. There we got on to the main Pilckem-Langemarche Road and visited Cork House and Burnt Farm. We came back down the road to Pilckem Village – a heap of broken bricks and rubble. At Corner House – an excellent concrete dug-out in a notoriously hot spot for shell-fire – was an Advanced Dressing Station. The ground was a mass of shell-holes hereabouts, and it didn’t look a healthy spot at all. We returned to the canal bank via the duck-board track. The desolation and ruin up there was ghastly to behold. There were still lots of dead Germans lying about in shell-holes – distended, bloated corpses which stank horribly.”

The 60 cm trench tramway that ran past Stray Farm was not included in the maps of April 1917 but by the end of June an extensive network existed. The map below shows the route of the tramway that Douglas and his men took that day.

The blue line traces the route of the tramway. Points are highlighted in the red squares

The blue line traces the route of the tramway. Points are highlighted in the red squares. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. https://maps.nls.uk/index.html

Stray Farm today

Stray Farm today

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here