After the fighting near Wytschaete, the division endured a further 'four days and four nights [of] strong enemy fire'. At last, on 20 November, the 'over-used and exhausted List Regiment was allowed to march off into divisional reserve'. The men left the trenches buoyed by the prospect of a rest and by the rumour that they were to be transferred to the Eastern Front.
In those days, although the regiment had no way of knowing, this wish was almost fulfilled. On 19 November advice was sent to Crown Prince Rupprecht from the high command that six divisions, among them our 6th BRD, were to be placed under the command of Hindenburg, who had already won a decision in the East. But the List Regiment's luck would not be sweet. This did not happen. 1
With Engelhardt wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Petz, seconded from the 17th RIR, assumed temporary command in time to receive a draft of 400 reinforcements; a significant step towards restoring battle readiness. Serious offensives were nevertheless unthinkable in the Flanders mud and rain, the more so since the opponents had already fought each other to a standstill. Both sides were now digging in for a new phase of the war.
Without rest, the difficult activity of fortification work begins. New trenches [are] built, and connected by communication trenches… [The] front is being built with toughness and speed [with] the sweat and blood of the best. This collaborative work is for Life; Death is the employer. The sooner it is complete, the less time for the enemy to fire, the deeper the trenches, the more secure the shelter, the safer the cover against shrapnel, the better to withstand shells. 2
Although spared the grind of the infantryman, Hitler and the dispatch runners were still responsible for delivering daily reports and frequent messages. Regimental headquarters, in the ruins of the Grand Place at Messines, received regular