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Fri. 1 [Caversham Road] Got up beastly tired after a late night; didn’t feel a bit fresh. Made my own breakfast, which had been mostly prepared overnight, and went off to parade without seeing L. or anybody. Beastly cold and wet drilling on the Heath for the last time. Paid at 11.30 and had a Company photograph taken. Travers missing; went off to pack or something,. Officers had to lounge around the mess to see if any orders came through to cancel going away tomorrow. Left at 5.30; next parade 12.30 tomorrow, then off to Dorking to start work in earnest. Spent this evening with L. & family. C.O. gave us a jaw about looking after our men and seeing they were served first. Also told officers they mustn’t jaw & joke with their N.C.O.’s. Had somebody in his mind - who was it? H.M.S. Formidable mined in the Channel.
Sat. 2 Got up very early & had an hour with L. Left Caversham at 11 o’clock. Mrs H. Saw me off to train; felt very grateful to her & very lonely. Got down to Betchworth with Battalion at 3 o’clock. Impressive march through Blackheath with a band, amidst sobbing relatives of the men. Felt very sympathetic and still lonely. Our Company billeted in a straggling way at Buckland. T. and myself are both with the Vicar at the Rectory. An awfully decent sort with a young wife and five nice children. So far as seen, a very comfy house. Put all the men in their billets - quite good. Waited from 6.30 to 8.15 for rations & kit-bags: men quite cheerful. Got back to Rectory about 9 o’clock; had a bath and supper. Talked to Rector about cricket; he’s very keen. We are about half an hour from Headquarters. Hope our stay here will be for a month or two. Heard no outside news, being too busy to want to.
Sun. 3 Up at 6 o’clock. Vicar afraid that my servant had let me down; came himself in a night-shirt and candles and called me; also getting me some milk and biscuits. I called him a treasure; he was very bucked. Had to attend H.Q. to see that fatigue party drew rations; missed the turning and walked on in pitch-dark & pouring rain for over an hour.; knocked a cottage up and eventually got to H.Q. and later to billets very late and very wet. Got to Rectory at 8 o’clock. Topping brekker, and attended church parade. Church only held half-battalion: waited outside. Topping lunch; made 'em laugh. Called with E. & T. on local squire (Beaumont); awfully decent chap & beautiful house and grounds. Wrote to L. & Woodgate. Squire promises use of park for drills. Called at H.Q. with E. & T.; nothing doing. Looked up Colour. Sergt. and had drink at Red Lion. Dined at 8 o’clock; jawed with family till now (10 o’cl.). Just off to bed. No general news, & still not missing any.
Mon. 4 Up at 7.30; bath & shave; hurried brekker; dash down for 8 o’clock parade. Route Battalion march to Dorking & back. Dismissed at 1 o’clock. Drink at Red Lion. Lunch & 3 o’clock parade. Dismiss and auction bridge with V. and wife & Travers - rather interesting. Tea. Auction again. Dinner. Auction again. Travers went down to superintend rations. Bit late coming back, so went out to find him. Had called on Capt. Edwards at Mrs Scrutton's. Looked in; had W. & S. [whisky & soda] and talked to Mr & Mrs S. for a few moments & home. Snowing this morning. Rather milder this evening, a beautiful moonlight night. Like the Rectory people much better than the ----; very formal. Two of 'em: large room. Both dress for dinner. ---- a very would-be society woman; interfering hussy, I should think; only first impression after ten minutes' interview; may be wrong. Noticed for the first time a slightly churchy smell in the Rectory. Wonder if it is absence of smoke - only one room allowed for smoking. The family are very nice. Just off to bed.
Tues. 5 Called 7.15; up 7.30; parade 8.30. My servant absent from parade. “For it” at afternoon parade before C.O. Route march in the morning over Walton Heath. Beautiful golf course and magnificent scenery; surrounding hills covered with snow. Looked like Switzerland. Company drill this afternoon & a jaw with men. Arranged two more billets for four men. People in the village most hospitable; can’t do enough for the men. No poor here; everybody happy & contented. We seem to have got into the inner life of the place at once; probably owing to the Vicar. Capt E. thought I had bossed attendance on ration-dealing, but not so. Cheered him up with W. & S. at the Red Lion. “Times” publish Army Order for double companies for Territorials. Hope we don’t have to shift billets. Ours is the most comfortably settled Company. Stomach o.k.
Wed. 6 Woke 6.45; called 7.15; rose 7.30. Orderly Officer for the day. H.Q. 8.30; on parade 9 o’clock. Route march through Homewood & Dorking; only officer carrying a sword; admired by the children. Passed 18th County1 doing field work. Lunch at Rectory. Went over billets at Wenham Manor with C.O. and Adjutant. Heard C.O. address ABC Companies. Fine speech - well to the point. Those Companies hardest billets, 'cos first men to rough it abroad. Must find space describe Wenham Manor, Betchworth House and other big houses in our organisation. Capt E. came to Rectory to tea. Attended distribution of battalion rations; meat looks horrible in bulk. Played billiards by myself for an hour. First mess dinner. Couldn’t attend: on duty. Very wet night after beautiful spring-like day. Man seriously ill at Wenham M.; had to arrange car to take him to hospital; kept late through this; not home till 11.30. Revolver and letter from Mrs H. and toothbrush etc arrived. Started showing active dislike to ---. Used the Vicar’s bicycle all day. Haven’t seen paper.
Th. 7 Up at 7 o’clock, bath, shave, & late for breakfast. Then went to drill. Read Army Act to Company in Reading Room. Talked about cleanliness & cheerfulness in billets. Made men laugh by promising a nice funeral if they died through hardships. Route march to Leigh; awfully wet; men without greatcoats soaked through. Invited Scrutton to tea. Too wet to go. Looked after ration serving. Played auction with Travers, Vicar & wife. Won 1/-! Countryside dotted with elms fallen over; one nearly killed Vicar & wife this evening. Must really start mugging up musketry & prepare a lecture or two; haven’t touched any since I’ve been here. Read no books or papers either. Feel sleepy; will go to bed. Wish it was summer & we were down here on holiday. Mrs --- and Mrs --- (bitter enemies) only two women I’ve spoken to yet.
Fri. 8 Up 7 o’clock; bath; shave. Parade 9 o’clock; Company did support scheme. I went to H.Q., then motored to Reigate for money. Paid men. Lunch at Rectory. Route march to Boxhill; beautiful day and glorious scenery. Tea at Rectory. Auction bridge till dinner time; about level. First mess dinner at H.Q. - not bad - excellent coffee. Agreeable company, but house too large altogether to be cosy. People get lost. Wonderful library there; must investigate it. Played billiards and beat Travers and Downer. Servant got a sore throat; have bought him some gargle. Scrutton complains to Church Council about Vicar holding Church Parade; will squash them. --- fawning round the C.O. at Mess; he’s crafty & not nice. The other officers o.k. R. a bit raw I think. Am writing this in bed which I shall now use for a better and more proper purpose. Wonder if I’ll be able to read this bad writing.
Sat. 9 Woke 7 o’clock; no bath; shave. Parade 9 o’clock. Paid two billets. Had row with landlord of Red Lion about insufficient beds. Drill and judging distance. Must give up being funny with men; they’re always expecting it. So are Rectory folk, but they don’t matter. Lunch at Rectory. Foot and boot inspection. Cycled to Reigate for hair-cut. Tossed Japp and won. Saw Mrs W’field shopping. Dinner & auction; won 1/-. Vicar like Mrs Batten in manner. Pen's birthday. Haven’t seen a nice girl down here, although p’raps its because I haven’t been looking. ---’s girl appears rather old for him. He’s 9 months younger than me and 2 weeks my senior. Can’t make up my mind to swot. Must really try. Everything very comfortable and everybody very nice, but I would just love to jaw with L. Afraid we have a very slack H.Q. We shall never be much good till they are bucked up. Discipline of battalion rather poor. Our company not so good as it should be.
Sun. 10 Called 7.30; bath & have breakfast on my own; nobody else up. Travers orderly officer, and Capt.E. at H.Q., so took command & marched the Company to H.Q. Church Parade; 25% battn. away and 3 Companies at Brockham; all got into the church. Officers put into choir pews. Open air service used. Address consisted of two stories, rather pointless, about Lorenzo and three requests & Gordon the man of iron. Hurried back to church at Buckland. Rector spoke about Arbitration Courts and peace in the home. --- read the lessons; outsider. Strolled round the squire’s park; talked about football. Lunch at Rectory. Wrote to L.; fell asleep. Capt E. to tea. Jawed with kids and Mrs Wetherfield. Spoke of Sammy’s eyes. Scruttons to dinner; three ports, two whiskies; borrowed Soldiers Three (Kipling).
Mon. 11 Bath, no shave. Route march rear Company about 20 miles; passed through Holmwood & Dorking; London Scottish turned out guard. Achilles tendon in my left leg hurting some, also pain under right arm. Home 4 o’clock. Tea with children. Saw ---, schoolmistress, easily satisfied, cheerful, rather crawly little woman. Concert in Reading Room for men and a few villagers. Col. Sergt. looked very smart in blue. --- in evening dress. She is a snob & so is her son. --- appears rather love-sick. Rumours that 8 subalterns going to 1st Battn. Hope they do. Passed the Brigadier on march. Very pleasant day and beautiful views & scenery. New tunic from Hyams; seems o.k., but not sure of stuff. Reading Room is a small hall with small bagatelle & billiard tables for villagers, given by Scrutton; also put at the disposal of men with magazines & note-paper. Private Cox was unwittingly funny and kept things going. Am going to read Kipling.
Tues. 12 Up 7 o’clock; dressed carefully. Battalion inspected with 17th, 18th & 19th (Brigade) on Reigate Heath by Sir Ian Hamilton & staff. They looked awfully imposing. Sir Ian Hamilton asked Capt. E. how T. and myself were getting on & E. said “very well”. Men stood very steady. Afternoon off. Wrote L. and sent cheque to Swaine. Son-in-law of squire, Col. Marling V.C., C.B., home on leave from H.Q. in France; spoke for half an hour in Parish Reading Room. C.O. there and Adjt; very interesting, but mostly news we have read. Capt E., T. & myself dined with Mr & Mrs Beaumont and met Col. & Mrs Marling. Beautiful dinner, wine & house. Travers played auction; won 8/-. I played Capt E. billiards. Mrs Marling played patience with her mother. All very charming people and I enjoyed myself immensely. Col. Marling was told by General Gough that in the four days’ retreat from Mons the cavalry division didn’t get a single order from H.Q. of any description; they just legged it as hard as they could go for four solid days. Newspapers punctual and plentiful at the front. Mrs Beaumont stone deaf but interesting, & her daughter a charming woman. Letter from L., will answer early in the morning.
Wed. 13 Up 7 o’clock; bath (cold). Parade 9 o’clock. Did some double company drill; seems interesting. Introduced to Mr Keen, 83 years old, very wealthy. Arranged football field etc with squire’s bailiff. Lunch Rectory. Outpost scheme: posted sentry groups etc.; showed a good deal of common sense. Tea at Rectory. Auction bridge 'cos the Rector wanted to; lost 1/32. Dressed for dinner. Wrote to L. Met Mrs Scrutton, and went in her car with Travers to hear H.Belloc at Reigate. In the stalls; very nice and “toney”; plenty of officers there. Elementary lecture on broad strategy of the war. Motored back to Scruttons; had two whiskies; learned that people in the district to whom we are to be introduced are relatives of Mond’s. Discussed war. Talked rot to Mrs Scrutton about footprints of time and wisdom of doing acts which make a lasting impression. Am becoming known as “the Irishman”, & expected to say funny things. Asked to tea on Friday to meet pretty girl. Not going - told 'em so.
Thurs. 14 Up 7 o’clock; bath (cold); shave. Brekker: porridge, bacon, boiled egg, jam, toast, tea. Parade: platoon drill, physical exercise. Sent Byford to clean B’s bicycle and guns, & get glass for window I broke. Lunch Rectory. Outpost scheme, us drilling; asked men questions; talked to Home Service men. --- lectured a la Belloc; pretty good; he is too rambly. Tea with kids; most enjoyable. Finished L’s letter which I had started before brekker. Arranged to go shooting before brekker with Guy. H.Q. for dinner; rather a stodgy lot; seem to be grasping for cushy jobs & trying to scrimshank. Made 'em laugh, but think I’ll get more quiet, but can’t help rattling when I feel happy. Gardiner very sick at having to stop with --- ; J. confided he was no good at platoon; knew that as well as anything, I should think. Told --- Edwards was best skipper in battalion. Played billiards; won; and collared Hooper’s bike to come home.
Fri. 15 Up 6.30; bath. Shooting with Jimmy. Only had three shots, one crow, one moorhen, one crow - didn’t bag any. Beat a wood for pheasants; nothing doing. Paraded with dirty boots as a consequence. Visited sick man and talked nicely. Prepared & checked wages. Paid men. Listened to charge & sentence on two men for refusing to obey N.C.O.; 7 days C.B. Lunch at Rectory. Route march through Leigh, Reigate & home. Tea at Rectory. Bridge; won 1/3. Dined at mess; made 'em laugh. Beat C.O. at billiards. Walked home. Arranged blankets for Murray. Raining & blowing hard. Worked “a bear” story exceedingly well. Got sore throat & irritated skin.
Sat. 16 Up 6.30; bath. Shooting: didn’t have a shot going; blew off at some pigeons; missed 'em. Parade; double company drill with F Company; did quite well. Paid two billets - Miss Smith, nice house and the men very comfortably placed. Visited sick man. Influenza cold; seemingly going round. Lunch Rectory. Lecture on Care of Arms by Sergt. ---; could have done it better myself. Amused Rectory kids on lawn. Went to football; --- family in full force - her kids silly. Dampier appears very good to me. Tea with children. Cycled to H.G. Park; tyre flat. Played billiards; had w & s; jawed with chaps. Collared Bullock’s bicycle to ride home with. Dinner & auction bridge; lost 6d; played recklessly after being 4/- to the good.
Sun. 17 Up 7 o’clock. Orderly Officer. Church Parade. Rotten address by Army Chaplain. Capt. Cook in charge. Wrote letters. Lunch. Borrowed saddle and bridle; rode to H.Q. with S & B on bicycle. Went for a gallop with --- about 14 miles; met C.O.; he commented on ---’s seat; I think he approved of mine. Enjoyed it. Watched ration being served out. Dinner at Rectory. Back to H.Q. Jawed with chaps; later with Capt. E. & Capt. Cook who described visit by General - very funny. Very late; rather tired.
Mon. 18 Up 7 o’clock; bath. Early parade 8 o’clock. Route march; very quick pace; Walton Heath, Great Bookham, Hindley, Leatherhead, Dorking, Betchworth; about 27 miles. Visited by Divisional Billet Officer. Very stiff after horse-riding. Brilliant day for march; slight frost & topping sun. Tea and dinner at Rectory. Lost 2/- at auction. Guy’s last day at home. Tooth aching slightly. No Australian letters for some weeks. Discussed Campbell & Kingsley with Rector. He appears a very well-read man so far as classics concerned. Servant smashes things very badly. Not much news of any sort. Told a chap unofficially to steal leave for week-end to see brother off to France; accomplished successfully showing laxity in supervision somewhere.
Tues. 19 Up 6.30: cold bath. Shooting with J.; no luck; enjoyed it though. Parade; visual training. Squire brought his daughter Mrs Saunders to see us. Lunch Rectory. Double Company drill in afternoon: Capt. E. buying groceries in Reigate, Japp, Travers & I in charge: had the best voice of the three. Squabble between --- and ---. C.O. and Adjt. visited us on leaving: adjutant looked horribly. Tea at Buckland Court. Mrs Saunders most charming woman, very beautiful; Mr Saunders remarkably fine - tall and good-looking and nice chap: two boys off to Eton. Dined H.Q. Saw Barrett there; world remarkably small - he looked astonished. Told Adjt. could write press articles. C.O. spoke about billet; had been visited by Rector. Made 'em more cheerful at H.Q. Long letter from W.D.; he still plugs on & still gives remarkably sound advice.
Wed. 20 Up 7.30: bath. Parade 9 o’clock: squad drill. Jawed with Capt. Edwards. Find him quite interesting: think because he has simple mind. Arranged for some shooting with Mr Keen. Arranged to pay Rector 35/- week for board and lodging. Very friendly talk. Lunch at Rectory. Model attack across field. Carried my part out very well. Sergt. --- no earthly use. Tea at Rectory. Made Judy talk more than usual. Had dinner with Mrs Wetherfield; went with her and three of the children to Company concert arranged by Schoolmistress in Schoolroom. Very good show: three of our own men and various people round Buckland, including von Heischl, relative of Mond’s. Quite a good concert. Invited to play billiards at von F’s - schoolmistress’s husband, old L.R.B.3 man. They have visited L.R.B.3 at Hayward’s Heath. Interesting to talk of chaps I know whom they met. Had some beer; almost forgotten the taste.
Thurs. 21 Up 7.30: no bath. Parade 9 o’clock: foot inspection. Called on Jeffreys for car. Lost Company and walked three miles after 'em; found them in Reading Room. Lecture on outposts. Lunch Rectory. Dismissed parade. Lecture on double-company drill to N.C.O.’s, and arranging for review by Lord K. at 9 o’clock at Epsom, meaning 5 o’clock parade. Called on Miss Corbett; nice woman who pleaded for two men we had punished for disobedience. Tried to raise car. Tea at Scrutton’s. Lecture at Reigate by Major Spielmann & General Cawley on Tactics. Gave us test papers to do by Tuesday. Dinner at Rectory. H.Q.. Saw electrician about Wenham Manor; impressed him. Great excitement about review tomorrow. Snowed overnight. To be called at 4 o’clock. Breakfast left ready. Great nuisance: don’t feel sleepy. Think I’m getting fatter; must weigh myself.
Fri. 22 Up at 4 o’clock: dressed review order: no breakfast. Parade 5 o’clock: march to Epsom. Very dark: snow at 6 and continuously till 7 at night. Arrived Epsom 8.30. Stood about Downs until 11 o’clock waiting for Kitchener. Just as he arrived I fainted. Dashed nuisance. Chancey looked after me and got me in ambulance to hospital. Found Watson there: got better. Car to Epsom. Walked to station: train to Dorking. Wait 1½: went to London Scottish to tea; rather a grand crude lot. Train to Betchworth. Walked through foot of snow with splitting headache home. Wetherfield very kind. Fire in bedroom and h.w. bottle. Went to bed about 8: had something to eat and sleep. Very fine sight to see snow and troops on the Downs. Heaviest settling fall of snow I remember; a regular 8” and here and there a foot. First time I ever fainted. Country looks very quaint.
Sat. 23 Up 7.30: no bath. Headache. Little breakfast. Parade 9 o’clock; Sharp snow; doubled with Company. Went to H.Q.: changed private boots. Saw C.O.: got cussed. Prepared but didn’t deliver lecture on contact fighting. Paid men. Lunch. Parade 2.30. Told men to ask questions. Heard case against three men: two let off, one given seven days C.B. for stealing cap-badge. Capt.E. deals very well with these cases. Thawing some. Paid Keen & Beaumont: their billets both very nice. Letter from Fleischl sending cutting by Wells. Tea and bridge with Capt.E. H.Q.: rather pleasant evening: now at home with senior men. Adjt. rather funny about Guards, snow & cocaine. Promised Adams essay on Friday’s doings. Must do now.
Sun. 24 Up 7: bath: breakfast. Took Company to Church Parade. Talked with yokel about horses: funny. Met L. Lunch Rectory. Stroll round: visited landmarks. Invited by Mrs Saunders to tea. Had tea Rectory with Capt.E. Saw L. off. Went to H.Q.: rotten dinner. Jawed with Gardiner: made 'em laugh. Had some fizz with Watson. Craddock made Captain C.W. (thug) back from Chelsea. Hooper gone for drill. Did next question: very simple, I think. Must rub up my map reading. Must say pleasant lot of officers. Trains passing make bed shake. Not a bit sleepy though it’s 12.30.
Mon. 25 Up 7.35: bath: brekker. Parade 9 o’clock; route march. Issued boots. Nothing eventful. C.O. came up. Watched Company after lunch at Rectory. Bayonet and extended-order drill. Left early to telephone about stoves: no communication. Jawed with M.O. & Taylor - about first long sensible jaw (about one hour) for a month. Heard Mrs Coulson sing. She is asking L.R.B.3 boys up: good fun. Left my gloves there. Dinner at Rectory: bridge - won 3d. Wrote lots of letters. Sent for £5 for week-end. Prepared lecture on advance-guards.
Tues 26 Up 7.30: no bath: very tired. Parade 9 o’clock. Inspected billet - bad, dirty condition: made report. Double-company drill: did rather well. Lunch at Rectory. Gloves returned. Inspected farm: found two eggs out of 50 hens. Advance-guard lecture and drill was with main body. No good for men’s training except discipline. Battalion complimented in orders on Friday’s display. Invited tea at Fleischl’s: very interesting wealthy people - beautiful house and contents. Relations of Mond: interested in my knowing him so well. Going there to dinner on Thursday. Dinner Rectory: amused 'em by describing my visit. Walked H.Q.: drank wine with Capt.E. & Cook in Mr Bullock’s room. Saw Adjt.
Wed. 27 Up 7.30; bath; shave. Parade 9 o’clock. Telephoned O’Brien Thomas from Scrutton: arranged stoves for Broxham. Route march. Smart girl made us tea at lunch time. Home 1.30: shooting with Earnshaw; missed partridges - got hare and pheasant; enjoyed it thoroughly; so did my servant. Tea at ---: talked about whist drive. Very dull: felt fagged. Saw rations: very tedious. Dinner at Rectory: lost 4/- bridge. Read four hours German war book: translated by Morgan. Bismarck a blessed scoundrel. Rather surprised at my weak knowledge English. Rector bucked me into good temper, & now he’s ill himself.
Thurs. 28 Up 7.30: bath: shave. Orderly Officer. Parade 9 o’clock. Inspected billet. Turfed off by C.O. for being late and piffle jawed because I stopped him using accessories I think. Interrupted trial of deserter. Saw to B Company billets. Manual drill. Lunch Rectory. Cried off Fleischl’s dinner. D.C. drill - warming. Tea at Rectory. Saw rations at H.Q.: Sergt. Clynes useful man. Rotten dinner. Beat Japp billiards: won 2/9, 1d a ball and 1/- game. Jawed with Gardiner and Doctor. Had W.& S. Rector rather ill - fainted. Rang up doctor: waited for him and looked after him. Tells me 4 Irish officers arrested. xxxx xxxx. Was too rowdy in mess, I think. Mrs Wetherfield rather worried.
Fri. 29 Up 7 o’clock: woke at 6 to see if Mrs W. wanted anything: no bath. Go musketry class; very pleasant under Capt. Watson: rather elementary for me but recognise importance. Admired wonderful library. Dipped into book on Napoleon. Lunch at Rectory. Rector rather better. Photos arrived from Swaine’s. More musketry; practical work. Told to go and talk electricity to Brigade-Major, but C.O. wouldn’t let me miss musketry. Tea at H.Q.; Brigade-Major present - Welshman, not very clever, apparently. Japanese rifles served out. Dinner at Rectory. Wrote musketry notes till 10.30. Looking forward to tomorrow’s leave.
Sat. 30 Up 7.30; bath; musketry until 12 o’clock. Lunch Rectory; shaved & changed. Caught 1.30 with Moll & Gardiner & Doctor to town. Long journey: hour late. Met L. by chance; dinner at Trocadero; very Lyonsy. Taxi home; horrid waste but very nice. Earlyish to bed and rather sleepy.
Sun. 31 Up 7.30.; wondered where I was. Had brekker old style; seemed so nice. Walk through the Park. London rather gloomy, but didn’t notice very much. Sofa & sullen: hated thought of going back. Quiet journey. Place seemed awfully peaceful, with full moon & silvery country. Jawed with Travers. Had horrible night: couldn’t sleep a bit.
Mon. 1 Up 7.30. Beastly tired. Musketry. Lunch Rectory. Musketry: getting on all right at it. Missing all Company work though. Tea at H.Q. Lecture on Test Questions - learned dashed little. Believe success in military matters is individual purely, with good basis of general military knowledge. Gen. French, I imagine, is too “book-bound”. Mess meeting about deficit; stuck out against outside officers paying men & won. Musketry notes; settled with bank; beastly late, nearly two o’clock.
Tues. 2 Up 7.30; very tired; bad night. Bath. Musketry. Reynolds nasty about his bike. Lunch at Rectory. Got L.’s letter. Capt. Watson not well. Early at musketry. Tea at Rectory. Wrote L. & musketry notes. Rather interested. Dinner at Scrutton’s. Car to Fleischl’s - very swagger. Watched --- falling in love with ---; rather amusing. Nice evening. Played billiards. Lots of things there. --- very raw I think. Mrs Fleischl’s very well informed. Asked to Beaumont’s -couldn’t go. Invited to Bovill’s for 10th; will probably go. May go to tea at Fleischl’s tomorrow to meet some clever woman whose name I forget.
Wed. 3 Up 7.30. Batt. Route march about 20 miles. ? Wrote L.; did musketry notes. ?
Thurs. 4 Up 7.30. Musketry. Took Company to baths at Reigate; good fun. Beautiful day. Tea & bridge at Buckland Court. Genl. Harding described location and distribution Army Corps & Battalion H.Q.s at front. Eternal trench question asked and answered. He was quite communicative but can't help feeling we shall different sort of war when we go. Hope so. Letter from Dad, Florrie & Deane. Wrote heaps of letters and did musketry notes.
Fri. 5 Up 7.30. Musketry. Lunch Rectory. Musketry. Dinner Rectory. Played bridge Travers. Went to V.F.'s to tea. Met a chap from the front; fairly interesting; fell half asleep in chair. Bed at one o'clock.
Sat. 6 Up 7.30. Short musketry. Watched men being paid. Went shooting. Heard rumour about going to St. Albans & probably front in a month. Made up my mind I would like it - would be doing something and not simply waiting and waiting to see Lily. Would be able to stand it better if I was doing something exciting. Played football against F.; won by 5 goals. Japp & Capt. E. to tea. Dinner & bridge. --- very polite & boring. Not sleepy.
Sun. 7 Up 7.30; bath; breakfast. Church Parade. Capt. Cook in charge. Very elevating sermon by Longley. Note from Adjt. appointing me Trench Officer. Start Tuesday. Am taking servant. Lunch Rectory. Did nothing all afternoon and evening.
Mon. 8 Up 7 o'clock; bath. Arranged for things to be packed and cleared up. Musketry. Trench job altered to Wednesday. Am going into furnished billet at Merstham. Nearer London but expect not so nice. Sorry to be leaving Buckland but am interested in what my new job will be; hope it leads to something good. Long letter from W.D.; very interesting. Mrs W. in evening dress. Played bridge - won 2/-. Lost 10/- out of tunic - probably at football.
Tues. 9 Up 7.30; bath; breakfast. Musketry. Heavy rain last night; fields very wet. Did Index for note-book in Gardiner's room. Lunch Rectory; last lunch; a jolly one. Musketry; oral exam; did very well to my surprise. Tea Rectory. Played Gray billiards while waiting for C.O. Got men ready for new job tomorrow. Saw to packing of my kit. C.O. sent up for me. Chatted with him & Adjt. Arranged for me to call at 6.15 for my kit. Very late & have to be up at 5 o'clock. Returned book to V.F.'s. Lost pyjamas - sleeping in vest & knicks.
Wed. 10 Rose shocking early; got some breakfast though. Paraded 6.30; caught train with battalion to Merstham. Introduced to Udall, C.E.4 of trenches. First I have to put things right with our party - get them in advance of rest and do the delicate parts. Am a connecting link between civil & military and generally supervise the whole of matters. Very interesting & instructive work. Officer of 24th left behind for few days to show me ropes; a Lieut. Clarke - decent sort. Am billeted in farmhouse; rather sportive after Rectory but quite nice. Went down to station & brought guards, blankets & rations back in taxi. Bed early.
Thurs. 11 Rose 6.30; cold bath. Parade 8 o'clock. Met Battalion with their instructions for the day. Got them all started and walked round and supervised them; envied by other subalterns. Arranged lunch for officers at farmhouse. Am learning quite a lot - very interesting job. Arranged for special party's billets. Arranged for work for battalion on Friday. Tea; strolled down to village. Called with Clarke on a Mr. --- who has two men billeted; very rank outsider. Collared a car & got taken back to farm. Difference in cuisine; still, it will do. Bed early.
Fri. 12 Up 6.30; cold bath. Breakfast; had to ask for egg; today's cold meat. Met Battalion; put them on job. Capt. Cook in charge. Lunch with others at farm. Looked after things. Saw drain working properly. Arranged work for next day. Saw officers of 22nd about patrols. Tea at Post Office; rather dear old soul, very good to soldiers. Walked back to farm. Had a long talk with Udall about dumpy and Y levels and how to take field readings. Very instructive. To bed early. Rather glad --- going; talks a lot too much.
Sat. 13 Up 6.30; cold bath. Raining hard. Started walking to station to see if Battalion turning up. Overtaken by Udall; borrowed his bicycle. Battalion had started marching back. Came back; saw to guard & odd officers. Lt. Col. Thuillier came down and inspected trenches. Asked if I was on telephone. He showed a complete grasp of job. Stated he was going to France shortly. Rushed for 1.55 ten minutes late; caught train. Saw Capt. E. & C.W. L. met me Cannon Street. Home; had tea; Richelieu for dinner; good place. Palladium; believe rotten company but didn't notice.
Sun. 14 Wake 8 o'clock. Wondered where I was; realised and was happy. Breakfast; too wet to go out; sat in front of fire and jawed. Had dinner. --- very rude to Mrs.---. Played auction and jawed. Tea. Still happy and lazy. Wondered if all o.k. at Merstham. Caught 10 to 9 train. Met all my men at Merstham. Supper. Bed.
Mon. 15 Up 6.30. Everything o.k. Cold bath; breakfast. Met Battalion; Capt. Moll in charge. All senior Capts. at lecture; got busy. Robertson not very well. Lunch at farm - Irish stew, Manico and Butter. Scrimshanking and boring cup of tea instead of lunch. Ordered Sergts. off haystacks. Went over trenches with Col. Sir Edward Raynor R.E. He gave pow-wow; rather wordy. Caught 5.15; went to Acton; met N.Buchan; went to General Meeting M.H.P. Pleasant to see old faces. S. paid me 10/- & J. 1/- owing. M. just joined Cyclists' Battn; about 40 chaps joined altogether. Decided to play cricket again. Wish I could play now. Caught 11.40 back. Frosty starry night. Challenged six times. Very late - after 1 o'clock; 'spect I'll be tired tomorrow.
Tues. 16 Up 6.30; not very tired; cold bath; poor breakfast - no change or variety in food. Kept very busy on West trenches. Got drain going in good order. Lunch at farm; made 'em laugh. Busy during the afternoon. Tea. Udall stopped also to supper & kept me entertained both with technical jaw and with cork tricks. Went to bed quite early.
Wed. 17 Up 6.30. Found bed-room floor quite wet with rain; blowing and raining very fiercely. Cold bath; breakfast. Battalion not turning up owing to rain. Undecided whether to go to town. Expected Col. Thuillier so didn't go. Jawed whole afternoon with Udall & took lots of notes about trenches. Asked for carpet in bed-room - lino very cold to the feet. Went by train to Redhill; saw some fairly good boxing between 21/225; went later to 21st mess and chatted with officers. Rather decent crowd; not so nice as ours though. Taxi home. Ate usual cold ham and read French's despatches & "Times" & then to bed.
Thurs. 18 Up 6.30; c. bath: breakfast - egg as usual. Raining hard; then cleared up. Battalion turned up and then told to go back. Learned some cricket strokes from Atfield & did notes with Udall. Talked to Adjt. & went to bed very early. Rather slack day.
Fri. 19 Up 7 o'clock; c. bath; usual egg. Letter from L., sending me back letter found opened; this came last night; I wrote then & am writing by degrees today. Craddock in charge. Battalion left because of rain. Col. Thuillier down; rather pleased with progress. Wrote more of L.'s letter. Decided to go to Buckland. Wrote L. in train. Saw Capt. E.; got a bad cold. Rectory people very pleased to see me. They have a new cook. Had dinner there. Enjoyed myself. Mr W. got flu. Very foggy on way home; felt funky of sentries. Read magazine & to bed.
Sat. 20 Woke 6.30. Looked for rain - beautiful day. C. Bath. Went over trenches. Cheered Udall up. Work excellent. Motored to Purley with Capt. Barlow & Udall. Just caught train: paid 3rd class fare at Cannon Street. Caversham about 5; tea and jaw. Dinner at Maxim's - charming place; very good feed. Bought shoes; wouldn't take tick. Spent long time over food; good brand wine; Muscatel. Taxi home; very nice. Talked a long time. Bed with no pyjas.
Sun. 21 Woke 5 o'clock; went to sleep again. Woke 7 o'clock; breakfast. Went on bus & called on Miss Phillips - too late. Went into old gardens & Brockwell Park. Reminded me of old times. Went over to Clapham; Richmond Terrace. Saw Roly Gillett, R.A.M.C., waiting for commission. Everything seems smaller; shrubbery very bare. Remembered old days so well. Caversham lunch; couch in afternoon. Last train home. Very late; bed one o'clock. Not sleepy; read Field Sketching.
Mon. 22 Woke 6.30; rather tired. Rose ten to 8; c. bath; hurried dress & breakfast. Marchant in charge. Went over woods. Spring-like morning. Saw old church at Chalsden. Pulled a wire to stop on. Letter from Col. Fleischl saying how do. Rained afternoon. Long lecture from Sir Edward Raymond - learned little. Pulled another wire to stop on. Wrote 12 page letter to Dad. Wrote lots of notes & this. ---'s cousin & wife called, & asked to meet them - too loving so pleaded busy-ness.
Tues. 23 Up 6.30; c. bath. Last day of Battn. Paraded Special Party; examined them and arranged to send them back. Final look round works. Rather wet day. Battn. moved off early. Jawed during afternoon with Udall. Bartlett dug up gramophone for my benefit. Talked to Mrs. ---, rather a sensible old girl, suffering from neurasthenia. Said good-bye to Udall; he was very nice & said nice things about the battalion and me. Kept Murray with me.
Wed. 24 Up 8.30; c. bath. Last day at farm thank goodness. Got all my things together and ordered taxi. Snowing hard. 21st Battn. turned up. Counted out and took over canteen money; profit £11/-/- 2. Paid billets & taxied to station. Caught 12 o'clock train to town. Went to Deptford; saw Wyard, Vinall, Mann, Coman, Woodgate. Had appointment with W.D.; he missed it. Went & called on L. at Fleet Street; Strand Palace for tea; Maxim's for feed. Taxi to Caversham. Last train to Rectory; arrived about 1.30. Beautiful night; glad to be back to comfort.
Thurs. 25 Up 7.30: hot bath at last. Found nurse in the house for Mr. W.; he's rather queer; congested lungs. Went to parade; so nice to be with all the chaps again. Downer & Robertson attached to our Company. They think I'm funny. Took Company to swim in the afternoon at Reigate - jolly. Travers pushed me in. Had tea at Charlwood's; rotted in the shop. Taxi to H.Q.; lecture by --- on military law; learned nothing. He talked about leave for week-end; very surprised, but busy on it though I fancy Britten goes instead. Travers has leave for next week. Dinner Rectory; it's good to have nice people and food again.
Fri. 26 Up 7.30; hot bath. Breakfast; now eat quite a good one. Parade 9 o'clock. Saw lot's of Kitchener's Army going through to Dover; men looked rather tired and despondent; serious job I suppose. Lunch Rectory. Platoon drill in afternoon. Mr. Wetherfield still rather bad. Lecture by Capt. Cook on Fire Tactics; practically a repetition of musketry. Adjt. promised me leave for next week; great joy; expect there'll be some jealousy though. Dinner Rectory; quite the old happy times again though I miss Mr. Wetherfield's jolly presence.
Sat. 27 Up 7.30; hot bath; breakfast. Travers taken queer; went back to bed. Parade 9 o'clock; had to pay all the billets. Raining hard. Saw more of K's Army, the Suffolks; very sturdy-looking lot. Met C.O. & Adjt. on way back. Explained Travers's illness; they gave me leave instead. Had already wired possibility. Just caught 1.30 train; straight to Caversham. Tea. Went to Maxim's; full up; finished at Café Royal. Felt not so very well & drank a lot of whisky - made no difference. Afraid I was very dull altogether. Thought I was going to have flu or something. Good egg; taking quinine.
Sun. 28 Dozed; heard each of them come down; breakfast. Didn't feel very lively. Bus & train to Ealing: Cloudy day & rather cold. Nothing to see there. Was most horribly dull; wanted to lie down and say nothing. Diner at C.; Mrs. H. not very well; L. upset; beastly shame - it was as much my fault as anybody's for being such a bore. Beastly nuisance when my leave is so rare. Keep thinking of how I had mucked their arrangements. Wish I hadn't got leave this week & had it next instead.
Mon. 1 Up 7.30. Murray told me F.S. men were to go to A Company; advised him not to go but he wanted to so didn't press. Hot bath. Parade 9 o'clock. Travers still in bed. Most of my platoon off to A Company. Felt most awfully fed and disgusted. Was very mad with remainder & gave them a beastly morning. Cursing all day. Felt rotten too. Lunch at Rectory. --- doesn't like Travers. --- came; rather common woman. Advance-guard scheme. Hailed like mad coming back; got quite wet. Tea at H.Q. Lecture by ---: waste of time. Dinner Rectory; Mrs. W. very bored with ---; says it doesn't suit him to copy me & try to be funny. Felt very unfunny myself & wrote L.; not a bit of a nice letter.
Tues. 2 Up 7.30; called by King, who got me ready; hot bath; nice breakfast. Parade 9 o'clock; about 12 men in my platoon. Did extended order drill after a good run with Company. Lunch Rectory. C.O. spoke about slacking; he meant ---. Capt. E. spoke to us similarly, meaning ---, as he was late on parade. Saw that no men slept two in a bed. Beautiful day. Walked all around. Got back early and wrote to L. Tea at Rectory. Capt. Craddock called & was approved of. Went with him to H.Q. Travers got up today & went out for a bit. No lecture though wasted a lot of time. Hung about H.Q. Dinner at Rectory; roast fowl. Travers looking very flat. Read Engineering and to bed.
Wed. 3 Nothing much - usual sort of day.
Thurs. 4 Just usual.
Fri. 5 Ditto.
Sat. 6 Up 7 o'clock; hot bath. Parade 9 o'clock. Paid billets. Travers going on leave. Interesting calling on all the villagers. Miss Harding showed me over Pettie's farm; wonderful example of old oak. Went out on Tactics lecture with C.O.; fairly interesting. Tea at H.Q. Went over to Reigate in Watson's car to buy pair boots & putties. Back Rectory to dinner. Read I.T.6; afraid I'm only cramming it. Went to H.Q. to give Capt. E. billet book. Played Bullock billiards & won. Back very late.
Sun. 7 Up 7.30; bath. Church Parade. Sermon on swearing. Men got 48 hours' leave; lucky devils. Met W.D. at 11.30; took him over Betchworth House & had lunch; he looks wonderfully fit. Strolled over to Buckland & went to Rectory. He thought I had grown rather nervy. Perhaps I am not so confident as I was. Tea at H.Q. C.O. jawed nicely. Only few of us in to tea. Saw W.D. off 6.30. Rectory; wrote letters.
Mon. 8 The most exciting day in my life so far. Sleepily aroused at 1 a.m.; found Hooper and Japp sitting on my bed asking was I willing to go to France. I said yes. They hurried off and came back in about an hour telling me to catch 9.30 train. Felt all sorts of things. Packed; motor called to take me to H.Q. Had to wait for W.O.7 permission. Wired W.D. & L. I said good-bye to everybody. Had some fizz. Motored to Dorking. Wired to L.; met her; St. Pancras 2.30, St. Albans 4 o'clock. Served out with webbing equipment; reduced weight of valise to 35 lbs. Posted with Gray to A Company 8 o'clock Adjt. sent for me; one too many officers asked for - unless one volunteered to go back must go as junior. C.O. very nice & Col. Moore promised me first draft. Feel all upside down at changing emotions. Stopping here tonight. Marchant gone for Divl. Adjt. Hooper, Grey, Taylor & Gardiner gone. Saw Costell.
Tues. 9 Up 8 o'clock; breakfast; rather nice people, polite host. Went to H.Q. of 17th, 19th Battalion & 5th Infantry Brigade for travelling warrants. Major Pownall filled in & signed it. Came back with Major Franklin. Taxi to Charing Cross; lunch with L.; both very quiet. Met Major F. at Chg. X and introduced to his wife; she came to London Bridge. Motored to H.Q. with Tozer. Saw C.O. Chaps pleased to see me and very sympathetic. Dinner at H.Q. Barlow motored me to Rectory - all very pleased to see me and very kind and nice. Feel frightfully unsettled though. Hear rumours of us going to St. Albans.
Wed. 10 Up 7 o'clock. Parade 9 o'clock. My man not so good as Murray - have to tell him what I want done. Platoon glad, I think, I am back. Very cross with them and rather in a temper with everybody. Mr. W. down again though looks very weak. Fairly certain we're going to St. Albans. Lunch Rectory. Outpost scheme in the afternoon. Dinner. Rectory. Went H.Q. to do outpost scheme. Sat jawing instead. Walked home very tired; a dark night. Still unsettled.
Thurs. 11 Up 7 o'clock. Note brought by Jones telling me I am O.O.8 Reported to C.O.; said I was late because of late warning. Field day on Walton Heath; did fairly well. Home early, about 4 o'clock; felt too lazy to go out. Went to lecture in evening by Kempe on Telegraphy. Rather interesting; dodged night operations too.
Fri. 12 Up 7 o'clock; hot bath; very sleepy. Parade 9 o'clock; slanged the N.C.O.s for slackness. Extended order drill. Lunch Rectory. Paid billets all the afternoon; said good-bye as I went round. Tea at Rectory. Went down to H.Q. to see if my Brigade orders through. Nothing doing. Played bridge with T., Japp & Capt. E.; won 9d. Got home very late; walked across fields. Feeling very unsettled; expect to move off any moment now.
Sat. 13 Parade 9 o'clock. Hot bath. Paid men. --- made himself a nuisance asserting his seniority over Robertson. Waited about for moving orders. None through. Played football. Tea at Beaumont's; Mrs. B's birthday. Invited to Saunders' town house when in London. Played bridge; won 2/9. Dinner at Rectory. Played more bridge. Travers Orderly. Wrote lots of letters. Jawed with T. and went to bed 1 o'clock.
Sun. 14 Up 7.30; bath; breakfast. Parade 9.15. Church. Interesting sermon. Told of custom called "Mothering Sunday"; very pretty. Went to Buckland Church. Saw v. Fleischl & Saunders. Travers' girl & her sister & locum curate to lunch. Girls very shy and quiet. Felt rather lonely. Tea with family. Went over to v. Fleischl's dinner. ---, one in Ordnance; nasty chaps. Man there with pink socks - very cheap. Felt rather bored. Bed early.
Mon. 15 Up 7 o'clock; bath; breakfast. No news of going yet. Parade 9 o'clock; Major Franklin inspected Company. Stopped platoon from chipping Norman. Lunch at Rectory; --- very fractious & childish. Insisted on knowing if we were dining at Rectory; said no anyhow. Rear-guard action badly carried out. Had photos taken with men. Tea at Rectory. --- wanted bridge; wouldn't play. T. went to whist drive at Scrutton's. I went to H.Q.; had dinner; played bridge, won 6d; billiards, won 2/-. Capt. E. came in about 11 o'clock. Jawed me for not turning up at whist drive. Glad I didn't though. Walked home.
Tues. 16 Up 7.30; hot bath; breakfast; tired. Parade 9 o'clock; physical; had good run. Extended order; rear action; managed my platoon better than anyone else. Lunch at Rectory. Everybody in better temper. No news of St. Albans; probably two weeks before we move. Took half-Company Reigate to baths. Had hair cut. Met Judy in Reigate. Bought pineapple. Met Mrs. W. & Pen on bus. Tea & played bridge; won 7d. Dinner; walked to H.Q. with Travers. Saw Adjt. Played billiards. Home 11.30.
Wed. 17 Up 7.30; bath; breakfast. Spring morning; was awake early. Parade 9 o'clock; route march to Walton; attack across the Heath. Had charge of left firing line; did well and kept excellent direction. Ticked --- off for silly answering. Band played well on way home. Tea Rectory. Country looking very busy. Picked some violets but too late to send away. Watched rations. Dinner Rectory. Went to H.Q. Jawed with Major Pownall & Cook & Edwards; interesting. Asked Craddock for dentist's leave - have to apply to Brigade. Walked home. Toothache. May have to go to France any day.
Thurs. 18 Up 8.15; breakfast 8.30. Parade 9 o'clock; physical drill; team race - ran well. Musketry & lecture on Reading Room on health, attacking, scouting. Lunch at Rectory. Parade 2.30. Pen & Sammy watched us drill. Did some Company drill; took command; did quite well. Tea at Rectory; played bridge. Snowing. Parade 7 o'clock; did attack across fields; --- & ---'s platoon mucked it, mine & Travers's behaved very well. Played bridge. Wrote L. & W.D. & bed.
Fri. 19 Up 7.30; bath; breakfast. Parade 9 o'clock; very cold; gave men cross-country double, made them and me warm. Staff Major saw us at Musketry. Did attack across country; did flank & rear attack with my platoon, captured position; Capt. E. very pleased, so was I. Lunch Rectory. Company drill; took command of Company and made --- sit up. Tea & jawed with Travers. Dinner. Played bridge and went to bed early.
Sat. 20 Up 7.30; bath. Orderly Officer. H.Q. 8.45. Mounted guard. Paid billets. Heard Mrs. --- ticked off by Mrs. ---. Lunch. Saw train off. Played at tennis and bridge; had tea. H.Q.; saw to prisoner without pass. Inspected pickets & guards. Saw C.O. Dinner Rectory - cook ill. H.Q. - made out report; signed passes; cycled home 11.30.
Mon. 22 Up 7.30; hot bath; breakfast. Parade 9 o'clock. Did musketry. Dinner Rectory. Said good-bye to Mr & Mrs Wetherfield. Left in charge of kids for few days. Did an outpost scheme; my platoon in support so had nothing to do all afternoon. Capt. E. went to town. Attended concert by men; fairly good. Said nice things about Buckland people.
Tues. 23 Bath; breakfast. Parade; physical drill. Major Dodd came to look after us. --- did extended order drill with his platoon very badly. Major Dodd lectured on outposts; very clear and concise. I lectured on musketry; did o.k. Lunch. Outpost scheme with Major Dodd; fairly interesting. Dinner at Rectory. Played cricket before this. Went to H.Q. afterwards; made a row and played Travers billiards. Walked home. Heard there was to be a Brigade Field Day tomorrow.
Wed. 24 Up 7 o'clock. Parade 8 o'clock. Hung about till 12 o'clock waiting for Brigade orders. Ordered to take my position along country. My platoon put into picquet of No.1 outpost Company; very busy seeing to sentries and patrols. Ran into General Colley; argued with him, then Brigadier. Had no time to myself till 4 o'clock; very tiring day. Left at 6 o'clock, home 7. Most tired & weary. Loll about all evening; may write to Dad.
Thurs. 25 Up 7.30; hot bath; breakfast. Parade 9 o'clock. Wet day. Capt. E. lectured on musketry. Went with Major Dodd up to hills in afternoon to reconnoitre position for night scheme. Tea at Rectory. Gave Roby Monte Cristo and map of France for Judy. Night march & took up defensive position. My platoon had firing line; managed it o.k. New field-glasses arrived. Leave for Friday granted. Supper & bed early.
Fri. 26 Up 7 o'clock; hot bath. Parade 9 o'clock; full marching order. Battalion hung about until 11 o'clock waiting Brigade orders. Moved off to Walton Heath for outpost scheme. Saw to cleaning of school-room billets; sent the ten men billeted there to be fumigated. Caught 1.30 to town; Governor met me. Pulled about by dentist. Met Col. Marling in the train. Called Fleet Street for L.; went home. Like the fire to begin with - not very bright or warm, but both bucked up later and reminded me awfully of old times. Caught 11.40. Bright moonlight night. Not a bit sleepy and mouth quite comfortable.
Sat. 27 Up 7.30; hot bath; breakfast. Paid Billets. Jawed with all the villagers. Played cricket all the afternoon except for a bit of shooting with Roby. All leave stopped as we might have to move at any moment. Dined at Buckland Court with Col. & Mrs. Marling & Japp. Excellent dinner. Played bridge; lost 5/-. Enjoyed the evening.
|Sun. 28 Up 7.30; hot bath. Church Parade. Rotten sermon. Last one in Betchworth. Arranged to go up to town with Adams. Splendid run up in his car; did journey in an hour. Went Caversham. Caught 9.40 train with Adams & Bullock. Home through the fields & moonlight.|
Mon. 29 Up 7 o'clock; c. bath; breakfast. Parade 9 o'clock; men all doing fatigues and packing up in order to move tomorrow. Went round & paid billets in Buckland for the last time. People very sorry at losing us and we all sorry to go. Had a very happy stay here. Capt. E. isolated as his room-mate Capt. Cook has measles. Major Dodd looking after us. Went to H.Q.; nothing doing. Last dinner at Rectory. Jawed with family. Arranged if possible to meet them on 10th April and spend week-end there. Played bridge with T., Mr. W. & Roby. Slept in shirt as everything else packed.
Tues. 30 Parade 8.30. Sent men on various fatigues. Cleaned up. Sent valise & kit-bags to station. Paraded 10.15; marched to station; everybody out to say good-bye. 12.30 train; played bridge; won 5d. Usual detraining excitement. Got men into their billets. Had row with --- about rifles. Billeted in empty houses. Very busy rushing around. Made a joke of things & think it won't be so bad. Adams awfully kind in giving me a sleeping bag. No beds here or blankets, still a soldier's life ain't supposed to be all roses.
Wed. 31 Up 7.30; c. bath; breakfast at mess. Parade 9 o'clock. Marched down to field some distance away for usual training. Looked after by Major Dodd. Field belongs to the Drakes. Lunch at mess. Extended order drill in afternoon. Tea at mess canteen. Met ---, rather wealthy effusive family: Do these people like the ---s go out of their way to help soldiers for the good of their soul, or for swank? Six of us billeted at dormy. Wrote to Mess President about rotten billet. Adjt. came round and slanged us but promised to improve matters. Went to rather cheerless bed.
Thurs. 1 Up 7 o'clock. Parade 8.30; went for route march round country; very hot day, roads very dusty. Borrowed a drink from Murray and chatted to him at a halt. Dinner at mess. Strolled round town with Robertson & Adams. Borrowed mattress & rug from Doctor. Great nuisance saluting while walking about; place cram full of soldiers.
Fri. 2 Up 7 o'clock; breakfast 8. Orderly Officer. Report 8.45 H.Q. Sent for some maps to Division & also take inventory of Dormy. Worried about guards' rations. Inspected food & guard; mounted it. All meals in mess. Certainly feed you well there. Wrote report out after turning out guard.
Sat. 3 Up 7 o'clock; c. bath. Parade 8.30; raining. Inspected Company; --- & --- turfed off. Took Company down to drill ground; got 'em wet; brought 'em back to be paid. Dashed off, changed, caught train to St. Pancras with Reynolds. Taxi to S.P. Hotel; met L.; had cup tea, went Caversham. Dinner at Maxim's; awfully nice. Pictures at Caversham - just like old times. 10.26 train up; home about 11 & chatted a bit with Downer & Watts, and to bed.
Sun. 4 Up 7 o'clock; bath. Parade. 8 o'clock inspected Company. --- messing about again. Church Parade at Abbey; rotten service & hymns. Dismissed at 11.30. L. saw us march past. Met L., strolled round; elaborate salute from guard sentry. Dinner at Sandfield Road; a Caversham Sunday afternoon, so nice. Tea & a stroll through the town into the country; back to supper, both very hungry. Jawed till about 10.30; saw L. home.
Mon. 5 Up 8 o'clock; bath & breakfast. Mess. Called on L. at 9.30. Went for walk to Bricket Wood; had a drink at country pub; went on and sat down in wood. L. carried chocolates and ate them as she went along. Good long walk. Beautiful day. Had tea in rather dingy pub. Back to St. Albans about 6 o'clock. Washed and shaved. Found all decent grub places crowded out with military. Very poor feed at Temperance Hotel. Back with L. to her billet & Mrs. H. Saw them off. Had a topping week-end. Orders for before-breakfast parade tomorrow.
Tues. 6 Up 6.30; parade 7. Found was expected to parade quarter to. All officers late. Major Dodd reported us. Before C.O.; excused. Ordered to take 50 men to range for musketry. Met C.O.; told I have been posted to new F.S.Company. Took men up to range; too wet and windy to do any shooting. Stupid musketry Capt. from Brigade; too old; Capt. ---. Back early; tea in club. Strolled round with Downer. Dinner in mess. New Company Officers in Orders. Surprised to see Japp & Capt. Edwards posted to same Company. Glad to see Adams in. Feel I shall go with him. Hope so. Played bridge, and had jolly evening in billet.
Wed. 7 Up 7 o'clock; at the range all day; back rather late. Looked over miniature range. Like being with F.S.Company9; all the best N.C.O.s and men in the battalion. Sing-song in the evening at Britten's billet; not bad fun.
Thurs. 8 Up 7 o'clock; at the ranges all day; getting quite o.k. at the butts10. Nothing of any particular interest. Lecture on discipline from Major Franklin; nothing new except a tip to salute properly and without a cigarette in the mouth.
Fri. 9 Up 6.30. Parade 7 o'clock; physical for an hour. Breakfast. Parade 9 o'clock. Took men to H.Q.; put some on small range. Paid billets. Looked after musketry squads. Went up to big range; didn't stop long. Trying to make up my mind whether to go to Buckland or see Sales. Expect it means a wire either way. Sales came up in the evening. Splendid seeing him again & hearing all about the L.R.B.3 boys.
Sat. 10 Up 6 o'clock; breakfast on my own; read "Times". Butts 8.30; finished pretty quickly. Paid men and caught 2.53; very quickly got to Kentish Town. Bought some illustrated papers; sent one to Dad & Woodgate. Met L.; went for stroll round through Regent's Park; had tea at Chinese restaurant, not bad. Went to Scala Theatre; good pictures but rather dull.
Sun. 11 Up about 9 o'clock; breakfast; didn't feel very bright. Went for stroll over Parliament Fields. Had a drink at Jack Straw's Castle. Subaltern looked very silly talking to a corporal and a private; both looked better men than he. Taxi'd back. Very muggy day. Went to Cricklewood & saw Sales & Mrs. Starling. Quite a nice evening though very short.
Mon. 12 Up 6.30; c. bath. Breakfast with Adams. Butts at 8.30. Rainy mist. Didn't shoot very well. Men did pretty well though. Back 10 o'clock; had lunch in mess; gave my sandwiches away. Gossipped all the afternoon with Adams & Watts. 4 or 5 chaps inoculated. Arranged Watts's meals to be sent round. Had tea and dinner at mess and had a most frightful rag. Made 'em all laugh. Saw to roll call. Read "Times" in bed.
Tues. 13 Up 6.30; breakfast 7 in mess by myself. Butts 8.30; windy day but bright. Three practices; shot; got 8" group and indifferent shoot at 300 yds. Inspected rifles. Had my hair cut. Tea and dinner in mess. Man died today; blood-poisoning; military funeral on Saturday. Lecture on Tactics. Brigade day, which we miss. Some officers still down with inoculation. Promotion becoming a burning question. Everybody afraid of --- going up.
Wed. 14 Up 6.30; cold bath. Breakfast. Up to range. Rather like that hour's walk by myself. Usually "Butts" day. Fired myself; not very well. Back early but too late for lunch. Had a bath. Chatted to Watts. Tea at mess. Listened to --- talking rot. Dinner at mess. Lecture of C.O. on Tactics. Came back; wrote L.; gramophone disturbing me; afraid it wasn't a very nice letter. Piper-Smith gave many gruesome details of the front. Had a headache last day or two.
Thurs. 15 Up 6.30; breakfast. Butts quite early; wrote letter there. Beautiful day. Shooting pretty good. Back to lunch. Signed forms in Orderly Room. Called on Aunt and talked nicely. Dinner at mess. Called on Capt. E., billet and Mr. Hunt & played bridge; comfy but slow. Everybody was late on field work. Glad I dodged it. Nothing much happened all day.
Fri. 16 Up 7 o'clock. Rushed breakfast & walked up to butts; glorious day. Wrote letter there. Shooting very good indeed. Back about 2 o'clock. Signed forms in Orderly Room. Watched men practising funeral drill. Tea in mess & went down with Robertson & Adams to town; had dinner at Maxim's & went to "Girl in the Taxi". Fairly nice night & feeling better in my stomach. Very close night. Back about one o'clock; sleepily to bed.
Sat. 17 Up 6.30; c. bath; breakfast. Butts 8.30; glorious day. Interesting rapid shooting. Done fairly early. On way back warned for picquet duty in evening. Had lunch. Changed. Lounged around. Had tea. Paraded with B Company. Picquet & Capt. Moll at 4.30. Marched off to position near Shadbolt; posted sentries; stopped all vehicles. Interesting work; looked for suspicious people or flash-lights, wireless etc. Stopped Mrs Maurice Hewlett with a Frenchman named Blondeau. Difficulty with people called Russell. Went to St. Alban's with the woman and came back with subaltern. Kept him all night. Deucedly cold about 4 o'clock; heavy frost but bright night & morning. Back to H.Q. 5 o'clock; two hours at report. Had breakfast. Now at dormy.
Sun. 18 Bath; changed; elaborate shave. Talked with chaps back from Church Parade. Had lunch. Came back dormy; asleep in chair. Mr. H. called in O.N.C. rig-out; talked some. Took him down to bus to meet L.; we attracted a good deal of attention. Persuaded him to go to tea in Bell. Waited on for some time. Met Mrs. H. and L., took them to Bell Hotel. Got bus to Barnet; fed at Red Lion. Felt sleepy. Went in tram to Highgate; got taxi back; home about 12; good run up.
Mon. 19 Up 6 o'clock; no breakfast. Butts 8.30. Fired exceedingly well. Beautiful day. Last time for a few days; 214th Brigade using the range. Cycled home; very hungry; still tired a bit. Had lunch. Letter from Sammy. Wrote Buckland. Dinner at mess. Attended roll call. Met Barlow; had drink at Club. Bed.
Tues. 20 Up
6.30; breakfast. Parade 8.30; should have been 9 o'clock.
Went to field near station for musketry. Watched recruits
drilling; wondered why they joined - hard up or patriotism?
They looked very raw but no doubt they'll improve. Lunch at
Wed. 21 Up 5.30; breakfast 6. Parade 7; marched to Redbourne to take up outpost position. 5 or 6 platoons in reserve. Beautiful day. Slacked about. Took details for map. Took particulars of men in my platoon - mostly printers, fitters & clerks. Marched back. Misunderstanding on road home; waited about 3/4 of an hour. Got home not very tired at 7 o'clock. Hot bath; dinner. --- a bore. Came back dormy; did map. Jawed a bit. Bed.
Thurs. 22 Up at 6.30; c. bath; breakfast. Physical, Swedish & bayonet fighting from 9 to 11. Very fatiguing, but jolly good for you I should think. More musketry at Ryder's field in the afternoon. Pretty late round at mess. Strolled down to County Club with Barlow; had one drink & early to bed.
Fri. 23 Up 7.30; breakfast. Swedish & bayonet. Coffee in club. Mess to lunch. Ryder's field with about 50 men. Didn't stop there long; brought them away 3.30; dismissed 4 o'clock. Tea in mess; footled around till dinner. Had dinner. Got fed up with things in general; bunked to Caversham & felt quite happy & myself again. Back about 1 o'clock & to bed.
Sat. 24 Up 7.30; breakfast. Swedish & bayonet. Coffee at club. Paid men. Hung about till 12.30. Lunch at Mess; very scarce company. Fell asleep at dormy till tea-time. Tea at mess. Only four of us left at dormy for week-end. Kemp went to friends. Robertson, P.-Smith & me wrote to house opposite & invited ourselves. Got invitation for 830 in evening. Bought some songs. Dinner at mess; about six people there. Went to ---; not a musical evening; rather bored but better than doing nothing. Home about 11. Bed.
Sun. 25 Up 7 o'clock; c. bath. Breakfast. Church Parade; only Watson & me present. Went to St. Saviour's. Quaint sermon but rather well-delivered, interesting, on selfishness. Lunch at mess. Wondered what to do as leave refused. Wire from L. saying she was coming. Met her. Pleasant afternoon; got tea (nice one) from local pub. Quite nice evening. Sorry there was nowhere for us to eat. Robertson & P.-Smith saw her to station. Attended roll-call & went to bed.
Mon. 26 Up 7.30; c. bath; breakfast. Swedish & bayonet. Inspected billets; quite a lot. Lunch at Mess. Lecture - beastly slow one - by Staff man at County Hall11. Bought underclothes and slick. Dinner at mess. Lecture by ---; equally slow. I wish somebody would teach us something. Went back to dormy and went to bed early.
Tues. 27 Up 7 o'clock; c. bath; breakfast. Bayonet & drill; rather enjoyed it. Read Tactics and had a rather lazy time until lunch. Paraded in the afternoon; musketry. Dinner and played bridge at dormy.
Wed. 28 Up 6.30. Thought I was going on Field Day but went to Baths instead. Very fine up there and rather liked it. Back early. Beautiful cold bath after lunch. Went to Boot's, joined library. Tea with P.-Smith on lawn at mess. Lazed about all evening.
Thurs. 29 Up 6 o'clock. Butts again. Such a nice day. Back early. Lunch. Cold bath - simply delicious. War not such a terrible thing after all. Tea on lawn again. Wrote Woodgate & Middleton. So sorry to hear of Wren's foot. Watts married last Saturday. Lecture - uninteresting - by ---.
Fri. 30 Up 6 o'clock. Parade 7 o'clock. Took particulars of platoon. Breakfast. Bayonet fighting with sacks, very strenuous. Drink with Cook at Club. Lunch mess. No parade during afternoon except taking 60 men to dentist's, Mr. Leadom of 17th - decent chap. Fell asleep for an hour. Tea at mess. Heard no leave granted - most beastly fed. Dinner early. Night concentration march rather not very good at field work. Nothing particular happened. Took roll call and bed.
Sat. 1 Up 6 o'clock. Took platoon in Physical; gave them some of the tips I am learning. Breakfast mess. Parade at 9 o'clock. Went to every billet; saw to kit and men's health & billet. Quite a lot of work; finished about 12 o'clock. Paid. Lunch. Beastly seeing everybody go off. Strolled round town with Travers & Watts. Bought a record & some music. Tea on lawn at mess. Played the fool. Dinner at mess; kicked up a row in dormy.
Sun. 2 Up 7.30; breakfast. Parade 8.30; Abbey for church. Bishop of C'ford preached; couldn't hear him. Lunch at mess. Met L. at station; went for stroll to Goshamsbury; very interesting & the place was looking splendid. Spent a nice evening, L. playing and the others singing. Saw her off. Enjoyed the day no end. Jawed with Downer, and to bed.
Mon. 3 Up 7.30. Physical & Bayonet. Put name in leave-book; first one; hope to get it this time. Bought more records. Lunch at mess. Took Company in the afternoon. Tea at mess. Went down town with Downer & Watts. Dinner mess. Played bridge; lost 2/-. Very late to bed.
Tues. 4 Up 7.30; breakfast. Bayonet. Bad toothache all last night. Went with Watts to have it out; 25 minutes tugging; very painful. Upset me rather. Lunch. Parade; had to leave this and went and lay down at dormy. Felt beastly; chaps all very kind, though, especially Watts & Downer. We leave dormy on Thursday.
Wed. 5 Up 6 o'clock; cup coffee. Parade 8 o'clock. Felt too queer to go on. Went back to billet. Read Trenches by Grenadier. Wrote Costell. Strolled round. Took aspirin. Met Pownall; told me Marchant killed. Tea with Travers & C.-Willis. Read Birmingham. Dinner. Feeling better. Took roll-call; took letters to Watson at mess. Bed after listening to C.-Willis playing piano. Fell asleep pretty soon.
Thurs. 6 Up 7.30; breakfast. Told to attend Orderly Room. Heard rumours of going to the front; confirmed about 11 o'clock; settled at lunchtime. Packed up. Am going with Adams. Messed about H.Q.; wired L.; caught 4.25 train; left telephone No. Caversham 5 o'clock. Saw Mr. Fairclough. Saw Lynes about telephone. Watched L. put her shoes on. Went to Gaiety; changed seats; had some fed in Bun Shop. Saw "Tonight's the Night" at the Gaiety; just splendid; just like old Gaiety days. L. & I enjoyed ourselves ever so. Home 11.30.
Fri. 7 Up 8 o'clock. Holborn with L. Deptford; jawed with W.D. till 2 o'clock; said good-bye to Uncle Parke on 'phone; went to Mann, said good-bye to Woodgate, Vinall, Wyard & Mann. Lunch with Uncle & W.D. Shopping; uncle paid like a brick. Said good-bye to W.D. & Uncle. Called F.S. for L.; went Caversham; dinner; quiet evening; bed early.
Sat. 8 Breakfast. Wire recalling me at once. St. Pancras 10 o'clock; St. Albans 11 o'clock. Packed up. Car back to London, after saying good-bye to everybody at mess. Taxi to L. Southampton with Adams & his father. Saw Embarkation Officer; told to report again at 9 p.m. Had dinner; Adams senior stood. Fizz. Reported again. Not to go till Monday night. Have to report again at 10 Sunday. Back to Hotel. Jawed with an M.O. named Chuckey. Bed. One of the few days on which I haven't realised it is Saturday.
Sun. 9 Up 9 o'clock; breakfast. Very bored. Strolled down to pier & listened with Adams to very inferior band. Lunch. Sleep & read magazine. More bad band. Tea & lounged about. Dinner. Stroll down to front. Beautiful evening, but very slack with nothing to do. Not to go till Monday night at earliest.
Mon. 10 Up 8 o'clock; breakfast. Went to Southsea. Nice day and rather nice place & had a rather interesting time. Back for tea. Found we were off tonight. Dinner, having said good-bye to Mr. Adams. Got our troops down to boat & got our tickets. On board about 11 o'clock; turned in; slept well. Left Southampton at 2.30. Rather too tired to have many thoughts about leaving England. Beautiful weather.
Tues. 11 Up 8 o'clock. Had good night; very smooth passage on S.S. Normannia. Arrived Havre 10 o'clock; saw + ship Carisbrook Castle. Reported Base H.Q. Left free till 2 o'clock. Strolled around. Appalling number of widows & mourning. Lunched at Tortoni's; not very good. Very amusing talking French. Tea at a cake-shop and some (fizz) lemonade at an open-air café. Beastly train-ride to camp; saw Marchant & Moore. Prettily situated & comfortable camp; not bad mess. Beastly sick of A.S.C.12 subaltern, who talked of dodging duty with gusto. Uncomfortable bed on blankets on floor; very chilly at night. Seems strange to be hanging about after the excitement of coming over.
Wed. 12 Up 7.30; very bad night, hardly slept at all; bed seemed hard; mouth troubled me. Breakfast. Bayonet-fighting & musketry. Lunch, after writing letters. Paid men. Train to Havre; beastly ride. Strolled round. Dinner at Tortoni's; not very good & rather expensive. Strolled about; went into various places, fairly interesting; trifle bored, and back to Camp by train fairly early.
Thurs. 13 Up 7.30; breakfast. Raining. Censored letters. All the men write wish to get home. Canadians seem to show best spirit by their letters. Lunch quite good; mouth still aching. Route march in afternoon; wet & misty; pack felt heavy. Poor but pretty country. Tea, and felt excessively bored. Dinner. Outsiders among some of the officers A.S.C. & 17th. Went for stroll to Honfleur. Whole country goes to bed about 8. Felt generally like the weather, wet & misty.
Fri. 14 Up 7.30; breakfast. Day rather better, but not very nice. Censored letters. Given the 18th to look after. Lunch. Gasped up two days' old papers. Route march through very pretty country round camp. Back by 4 o'clock. Tea. Inspected rifles. Five of us went on A.S.C. van to Havre. Dinner at Normandia. Cheap wine; all got a bit fuzzy. Strolled round; did nothing; taxi home. Mouth still painful. Beastly bored with everything, and damned uncomfortable. No letters, news, or anything.
Sat. 15 Up 7.30; breakfast. Paraded 9 o'clock. Route march through Montvilliers and Eponville. Pretty country & nice day. Getting used to pack. Had lunch at clean café. Rather enjoyed march. Back at 3 o'clock. Lazed about; had tea in hut. Went to Montvilliers; bought glass & brush. Tram back. Letter from L. Felt lonely & thoughtful for rest of evening. Never wanted the war to be over so much. Hope I get letters frequently now.
Sun. 16 Up 8 o'clock. Inspected rifles at 9. Inspected lines at 10. Wrote letters till lunch. Umpired at Canadian sports. Splendid lot of chaps. Tea; & A.S.C. wagon to Havre. Quiet dinner with Knight at Normandie. Met one Palmer in Ordnance who was xxxx xxxx and knew Defries & Col. Moore. A.S.C. car home with Knight & Carter. Letter from W.D. and "Irish Life". Bed early. Bad night.
Mon. 17 Up 7.30; breakfast. Raining, lasting on. Too wet for usual routine. Went for march. Frightfully hot & close; men very fagged; also me. Back 12.30. Lunch; red wine with Adams. Took bayonet- fighting. Wrote letters. Tea. Slept till dinner-time. Five of us drank seven bottles of red wine, also liqueurs; all very merry. Ragged Brassnett's hut to pieces. Spent the night giggling. Quite like a cricket tour. Bed about 11. Censored letters.
Tues. 18 Up 7.30, having been woken by Knight much earlier. Laughed over Brassnett's hut. Breakfast. All my men on guard duty. Wrote letters. Read "Times". Lunch. Read French grammar. Slept lazily. Chatted with Knight. Tea in hut. Vingt-et-un with Brassnett, Adams, Knight & Carter. Post arrived; letter from Woodgate. Dinner. Made up my mind to go to Honolulu one day. More vingt-et-un. Request from C.O. for less noise. Loss few francs. Censored letters. Then bed.
Wed. 19 Up 5 o'clock. Orderly Officer. Attended roll-call in pyjamas. Parade. Inspection guards all day. Drew 5400 francs from No. 1 camp. Read "Times"; felt very sick at casualties. Letter from L. Played auction with three Colonels; lost 13 francs. Heard reinforcements expected for 20th Battalion. Got trousers & odds & ends from Q.M.13 Stores.
Thurs. 20 Up 7 o'clock. Had to stay with prisoner for two hours; --- arrested for being drunk; rather harsh. Told Adams, Goodwin & me going up tomorrow with all 20th men. Messed about all day. Packed things up. --- rather sick over too big a lunch. Washing from Mrs Uren nicely packed & well done. Men seemingly bucked at going up; singing in the camp; very good piano-player in mess canteen. Censored letters & saw my detachment, the 18th, were all fit. Passed doctor; very cursory examination, but feel quite fit.
Fri. 21 Up 6.30. Paraded & saw to men at 7. Breakfast. Packed finally. Lunch. Paraded at 2 o'clock; marched to Montvilliers. Into train. Left Montvilliers at 6.30; longest train I've ever seen. All sorts of regiments going up; about three or four thousand men. Travelled all night; slept comfortably on floor in 1st class with seat cushion. First taste of army ration; bully beef & biscuits & bad coffee. Made up with French bread & bock. Country looks rather poor, and all country cottages very old, picturesque & untidy. People all wave to us.
Sat. 22 Woke about 8 o'clock; had fairly good night; slept on floor of carriage. Went via Etaples, Sty. Omer up to Bethune. Crowds of children & women all the way along asking for souvenirs in the shape of biscuits & bully beef. Hated army food. Lorry met us at Bethune; took us to Battn H.Q. with valise. 20th in trenches. Just going into communication trenches when bullet passed in front of me and hit man carrying valise with me through wrist; my first sight of blood. Finally put up for night in house rear of firing line with officers of B Company and tried sleep. Thunder, lightning, rain, explosions, bullets whizzing & star shells going up; most unique experience. Didn't feel any fear; rather interesting. Brother officers seem very nice chaps.
Sun. 23 Up all hours of night; didn't undress. Went out about 6 o'clock. Had breakfast; very good one. Went round trenches; very interesting. Spent all day looking at things. Shells dropped very near dug-out where we had lunch. Men all cheerful. Trenches very clean. Lay of country very difficult to follow. We are at Givenchy, with our trenches running right through village, every house of which is shattered and smashed. Le Bassée canal runs to our rear. Back out of trenches at 6 o'clock. Waited about until 9 o'clock. Had dinner with C.O.; very good one. Got billet near H.Q. in ale-house. Very tired & exhausted. Slept fairly well.
Mon. 24 Up 8 o'clock. Very slack; too hot where we were sleeping. Breakfast. Wrote letters. Walked about. Saw Hooper. Bathed then lunch. Letters from Dad & G.Watts & C.Book from McGregor. Appointed to A Company with Adams; same Company as Costell, also platoon. Got Billet. Had dinner & jaw with B.Hooper. Guns going off all day. Heard Italy officially in. Warned for 4 a.m. for reconnaissance in morning with Hooper.
Tues. 25 Up 3.30. Went out & reconnoitered; very interesting to see Givenchy village all smashed. Got back about 8.30; had breakfast & bathed in canal. Censored letters. Ordered to take fatigue party to 23rd Battn. Spent all day until 5 o'clock taking ammunition to reserve depot. Got back 5.30; had to turn out at once; rather tired & hungry, having had nothing to eat since breakfast. Sent into reserve. Tried to sleep in dug-out; incessant bombardment prevented it; rather hungry. Called at 12 o'clock to go up to trenches; passed some German prisoners captured by 23rd; got into trenches & told off to take with my platoon ammunition to firing line. What a night! I'll write of it tomorrow. Had letter from Wetherfield.
Wed. 26 Started to carry ammunition up at 1 a.m. Appalling badly organised attack; ammunition trenches full of wounded, dead & people going both ways; took five hours to get ammunition down; men wounded & dying near me; & --- rather crumpled up. Carried on, but didn't feel like it. Thanked by Brigadier. Took men out & stood by for the day. Wrote L. Back to trenches at 5 o'clock & took them over from 22nd. Trenches in shocking condition, dead & wounded still lying about. Got them cleared & started repairing parapets. Not much shelling; much quieter night. Very busy clearing up. Hope we get relieved soon. Feeling tired. Had letters from L. & Governor & Ella. Our want of shells very noticeable.
Thurs. 27 No real sleep since last Tuesday; food very in & out. Repaired trench. Found a cricket ball on a dead man; played cricket with Adams; kept men cheerful. Went with Adams along a lot of trenches and across country. Saw Carter P.O.R. and Brookes 6th. Sniper troubling us all day & night. Dead & wounded collecting at night. Had a few casualties; none in my platoon. My servant lost nerves; had to be sent off; men been at it too long without rest. Very cold. Had lots of letters; very bucked. Getting a grip of myself and situation. This battalion to date the luckiest; hope it continues.
Fri. 28 Fairly quiet night; couldn't sleep, though, and took everybody's duty. Slept a bit on till 7 o'clock. Things fairly quiet during morning. Afternoon trench howitzers busy. One fell very near, and dirt caught me & knocked me dizzy. Unnerved me rather. Bucked up later & had splendid view of bomb attack very ably beaten off by Thorne & Escombe. Battalion got a good name over this. Censored some letters for men. Slept a little & went down to firing line. Given charge of barricade where fight had been. Interesting sight. Wonderful preparation by Germans for mining. Place crowded with dead, arms & equipment. Admired sang froid of Engineers. Both sides had working parties out.
Sat. 29 On all night; very cold; things fairly quiet. Beastly sniper busy; made up barricade strongly and cheered men up. Went down German trenches we had taken. Everybody very pleased with 20th; C.O. in good spirits. Shelled abominably during afternoon; only officer of Company who stopped near firing line. Relieved by 19th. No casualties in my platoon. Thanked God to be out. Had a bath & dinner. Lots of letters; 3 from L. Feel ever so well now.
Sun. 30 Slept like a top last night. Up about ten & had good breakfast. Went round & saw platoon all looking & doing well & wrote letters. Assistant Orderly Officer. Had to censor crowd of letters & mount guard etc. Feel very fit & much refreshed; very little firing going on. Went for a stroll with Adams & just lazed day through. Want to be home so much. This war is a ghastly thing. If we once get into Germany we'll give that country hell.
Mon. 31 Up 8 o'clock. Physical Parade. Good breakfast. Wrote letters. Lunch. Heard of death of Nugent; bad luck. Went to Bethune with Adams; very interesting. Had tea and hair cut. Home about 8 o'clock. Dinner Censored letters. Early to bed. Found billet people upset with shells falling rather near. Slept ever so well.
Tues. 1 Up 7.30. Physical parade at 8.30. Wrote letters & rested. Lunch. More rest. Signed form for Records. Tea & dinner. Moved at 9 o'clock. Went to Salle Labourse. Passed Canadians and Black Watch going opposite way. Interesting night marching. Not troubled with shells. Put platoon in timber shed. Slept in estaminet; didn't undress but quite comfy. Arrived about 12 o'clock. No letter from L. Feel I like one every day, as it may always be the last. Line wanders in a curious way, seem to be surrounded by firing. Adams and I went for stroll in afternoon & watched gunners in woods. Men all well rested.
Wed. 2 Up 8 o'clock; good breakfast; omelette. Lazed about all day; shells dropped fairly near. Got two letters from L. & two from WD & some papers; very pleased. Started for trenches at 8 o'clock. Long march to communication trench. Through Vermelles, recently taken by French. Never dreamed of such shattering; very big village. Not a house left free; not a tile on, nor a window frame. Pompeii was simple to it. Passed it moonlight, most wonderful sight. Went down awfully long communications trench; very tiring, took over an hour. Took over from Camerons. Clean comfortable trenches; well arranged; recently occupied by French. Germans 400 yards away. Went round with C.O.; got on well with him.
Thurs. 3 Very quiet night; on & off duty all the time. Heavy bombardment by French on our right. Quiet day. Sniping going on & we lost one chap, Morphew from No. 1 Platoon, shot through the heart. We worried sniper & he seemed to quieten down. New Brigadier came round when I was resting. Wrote a lot of letters. Had a chat with Costell; heard about Zeppelins over London & was anxious for friends. These trenches certainly quiet. Later in the day artillery on either side bombarded each other, interesting to watch. At night terrific local fight on our extreme left; quite dark; shrapnel & lyddite & machine guns going for two hours. Most exciting to imagine the trench fighting. Result & who won fighting not yet known. On duty during the night; not so cold. Lot of letters when I went on at 12 o'clock, including one from Amy. Feel very fit.
Fri. 4 On and off all night; very quiet. Fierce fight on our own left don't know result. Breakfast & comforting shave & wash. Wrote and read all day except for duty turn. Shelled a bit; pip squeaks; nothing much. Aeroplanes fairly busy. Snipers on both sides at it all day. Roof of our own dug-out fell in with weight of sand-bags. Dug-out in fire trench shelled; nobody in it. Long jaw with Thomasset about Cambridge, he is a nice chap altogether. Adams not very well. Letter from L. at 11 o'clock. I hope she writes every day; it's as much excitement as shelling waiting for her letters.
Sat. 5 On and off during the night. Breakfast 9 o'clock; bacon, tea & marmalade. More duty. Things quiet. Lunch quite swagger; chicken & green peas, tinned peaches. Read & slept. Tea. Went down to P.O.Rifles14 with C.Hooper. Saw -----; still rather a stupid fellow. Beautiful day; fields looking very pretty. Artillery busy over our heads. Nothing doing on our lines. Understood Coldstream Guards taking over on Sunday. Had some fizz for dinner; excellent stew made by Angell. Alarm by 19th; all put respirators on; nothing doing. Had letter from L., Mrs Leon, W.D., and uncle. Not so cold during the night. Longing for a bath.
Sun. 6 Rather quiet night; rather cold. Breakfast 8 o'clock; on and off all day. Very hot; slept in a fairly cool dug-out when not on duty. Washed my feet, but wanting a bath very badly. Adams went off to collect money from Field Cashier. Delivered at 12 o'clock by Coldstream Guards; fine chaps. Most tiring march to our own billets at Vennequin, about 8 miles; men very fagged indeed and ready to drop. Realised how much they were doing for their country, even if they weren't killed. Splendid billet; nice bed & beautiful country in pretty village. Had cigs from Uncle & Ella & papers & letters from everybody. Went to sleep at 4 o'clock & felt quite fit myself. Verquin is the name of nice village.
Mon. 7 Woke at 10 o'clock. Felt very mad at having to leave this place. Lounged round during day; nice country; could see much traffic going to & from Army H.Q. across country. Charming cottage and nice hostess. Paraded 7 o'clock and marched back through Vermelles and Gailly-la-Bourse to billets near firing line; passed Worcesters, P.O.Rifles & 15th London & another Battalion. Platoon kept going very well. Got to billet 11 o'clock. Put men in barn; had tumble-down room for ourselves; cussed at leaving such a nice billet. Couldn't post letters home for two days. Feel strongly that this battalion is overtrained & stale.
Tues. 8 Up 10 o'clock; breakfast; sponge down. Slacked around. Inspected platoon. Lunch. Wrote & censored letters. Tea. Awfully hot. Billeted in Rue Pasteur, Maizengarbe. Place under shell fire. Plenty of inhabitants. Ordered on fatigue party at 7.20 just before dinner. Took fifty minutes up to trenches outside outside firing line to dig sap21. Badly organised; waiting for tools. Under shell & machine-gun fire. B Company lost 5 men. Worked until 1.45; billets at 4 a.m. Seems silly that battalion resting should find dangerous working party. Very hungry and tired. Have to be up 7 o'clock; orderly officer tomorrow. Very cross and think everybody slack. Dam disgusted with affairs; probably because I am hungry.
Wed. 9 Up, dam cross, at 7 o'clock. Shaved and mounted guard at 8 o'clock. Breakfast; big one. Went to 140 Bgde H.Q. to draw money for Battn; met General Barter. Very hot day. Lunch. Wrote letters. Paid money out. Parade; drilled a bit. Were inspected at 10 o'clock by Brigadier Thwaite; not very much impressed on either side. Censored letters. Dinner. Censored more letters. Read a bit. Letters and parcel of medicine and some de Raskes from L.; nice letter from Mrs. H. Couldn't go to sleep. Heavy bombardment going on. Adams back from working party at 1 o'clock. Nights seem to be getting warmer. Shop in village with wonderful stock. Had large Worthington; 1 fr 20; tasted awfully good.
Thurs. 10 Up 7 o'clock. Did Brigade guard for Adams. Wrote W.D. long letter about war. Paraded platoon and cursed 'em. They're getting a bit smarter. Lunch. Helped pay. Gave Adams balance of battn cash to distribute. Had a sleep. Read a bit. Hooper tells me we take charge of blank end of trench when we go up, and I'm in charge of bombers. Most excellent dinner, which I ordered & Angell cooked; braised beef (hot), cabbage, new potatoes, custard, prunes, red wine, black coffee & chocolate. Jawed a bit and had wonderful hot bath in landlady's wash-tub. Thoroughly enjoyed it. With a pail of cold water on top. Feel exceedingly fit and well.
Fri. 11 Up 5.30. Parade 6.30. Drilled till 7.30. Breakfast. Strolled around. Paid money to Matthews & had a talk to Young. Heard Bgde Transport QM arrested for drinks. Lunch. Read; wrote & censored letters; had a tremendous lot in the morning, dozen letters & parcel newspapers. Had a ride on Hooper's horse; good fun. Left Maizengarbe 5 o'clock. Trenches. Passed big mine smashed up. My platoon holding dead end sap21; rather cheerless & awkward job. Got men placed o.k. Talking to two sentries at 12 o'clock when shell burst & killed one. Later another man was wounded with shrapnel. First casualties in my platoon; both joined yesterday; first time in trenches. Had a lot of shells over. Didn't much care for it. Heard we're going to have feint attack. Think platoon should be relieved every 24 hours, or place made more tenable.
Sat. 12 On & off all night. Not so cold now. Heard we were going out. 6th officer came and looked over. Had a fairly slack day; few pipsqueaks over. Major Matthews went out at sap21-head and reported nothing doing for 60 yards. 6th London took over at 5 o'clock; met Quilter & Brooks. Got platoon out o.k.; back to Maizengarbe at 7 o'clock. Heard rumour of big attack on our left, and that we were going out for six days' rest. Had good dinner, and slept on valise on tiled floor; fairly comfy. Platoon in barn. Letters from L. & Ethel & one from girl to say her sweetheart wasn't killed. I'm very glad.
Sun. 13 Up 8 o'clock. Breakfast. Had fairly good night. Inspected platoon. Wrote letters. Lunch. Had a sleep. Tea. Went for walk to Chateau near by; most beautiful grounds; seemed like Paradise. Was with Adams. Beautiful lawns; rose-bushes; swans on ornamental lakes; fountains. Beautiful place; not touched by shells. Felt very envious of Brigade H.Q. staff. Parcel from L., Mrs Lilly & Mrs. Wetherfield. Enjoying myself some. 19th sent big working parties up. Dinner. Fizz. Gave Escombe £2/-/- 2 for mess. Bed early. Couldn't sleep for long time. Flies beginning to bother.
Mon. 14 Up 5.30; parade 6.30; breakfast; another parade; did platoon drill. Had some wine. Played catch-ball. Lunch. Ordered to stand by. Went up to the nice garden; had a chat with Staff Major (Gunner). Wrote L. Had nice parcel from Sidcup; awfully good of them. Periscope from Uncle. L. hasn't had my letters lately. Ordered off to Les Brebis at 7.30 with platoon to dig communications trench. Guns firing at each other. 50 shells dropped near us in half an hour. Shook us a little, but felt interested when it was over. Back about 2 o'clock, very hungry. Ate bread and paste. Read "Simpkins Plot".
Tues. 15 Up 8.30; breakfast 9 o'clock; parade 10.30. Weather keeps fine, but flies getting a real pest. Slacked about. Censored letters. Lunch. Read yesterday's papers. Parade. Very heavy bombardment started & continued until very early in the morning. Banged on a "loot" piano and had some cheap French wine. Slacked about and slept. Dinner, and one letter from home from L. I hope she doesn't mean it when she says "going down to Dover to see naval Johnny, may not have time to write". Adams had lots of papers and books sent out, and went early to bed and read some. Floor seems very hard after sending British Warm back. French people very uncivil in these parts; probably fed with war, or else spies.
Wed. 16 Up 5.30; parade 6.30; physical drill. Breakfast. Read and wrote. Lunch. Parade; did bomb-throwing. Tea. Lazed about. Dinner. Letter from Travers; he is to be married 14th July rather sudden. Post-card from L.; nice letter from W.D. & Ella. Sudden call at 9 o'clock; went off at a moment's notice to Les Brebis; waited behind Fosse for counter-attack. Night very cold; had troubled sort of sleep in railway truck. Les Brebis & district not shelled; presumably German capital. Place looks rather well organised. Familiar slag-heap; thought of Deptford.
Thurs. 17 Back at 9 o'clock after a cold night in a railway truck. Bought yesterday's "Times" and "Daily Mail". Had breakfast; went to sleep. Had lunch. Strolled about. Had tea. Strolled in the nice garden with Hooper & Adams. Parcel from Ella; note from L. Had dinner; strolled about; chatted with Carter. Had orders to stand by for action. Undressed and went to bed. Very heavy bombardment going on. Slept after reading "Simpkins Plot". Orderly Officer tomorrow.
Fri. 18 Up 6 o'clock. Parade 6.30; physical drill. Breakfast. Mounted guard. Slacked around. Parade 9 o'clock; platoon drilled very well. Looked up billets and censored letters. Lunch. More censoring. Tea. Stroll up to "own" garden. Dinner. Letters from home. Parcel from L. Topping letter from Robert & Australia. Letter from L. Blackwood's magazine from Uncle. Enjoyed it huge, and read it in bed.
Sat. 19 Up 5.30. Physical drill. Breakfast. Had good run with men. Parade 10.30; did platoon drill. Wrote letters, read & had lunch. Heard of death of Brookes, 8th (P.O.R.); very sad & very sudden; must have been the day after I saw him. Afternoon parade washed out, as working party. Took Company to Les Brebis on communication trench. Had coffee in house where six women were waiting for war to be over and their husbands. Cold night. Chatted with Thorne. Left at one o'clock and had W. & S. with sappers; what a pleasure. Strolled back as dawn was breaking; saw 15" howitzer on road. Maizengarbe shelled by high-explosives near hospital; no damage; motor-car nearly caught it. Read Blackwood's; jolly interesting account by Clarke, Dublin Fusiliers.
Sun. 20 Slept easily but hardly till 8 o'clock. Breakfast. Wash. Nice day. Stroll with Adams; saw second line defence; pretty elaborate. All natives in their Sunday best. Played cricket with broomstick. Messed about. Inspected billet & platoon. Chat with Costell. Censored letters. Another short note from L. Dinner. Had look at Grandmother; six traction engines to draw her. Up to trenches near Les Brebis; our Company in reserve. Splendid quarters in house belonging to mines. Took over from 22nd. Men in comfy dug-outs. Went to sleep on best bed since I've been in France. Roses in the room. Felt very fit, and looks as if it will be nice
Mon. 21 Had a good sleep; nice bed. Had to go out to stand to. More sleep till 9 o'clock. Wandered round & viewed positions; more straightforward than usual. Played cricket. Wrote letters. Dinner. Took party for tools; looked in church, badly smashed, big holes in roof, hundreds of shells, all inside a mass of destruction. Felt very mad with Boches. Shells dropping pretty near, but didn't bother much. Felt very wide-awake and read till 10 o'clock; got letters up then.
Tues. 22 Up 8 o'clock; breakfast. Inspected platoon; very slack. Beautiful roses; felt very "homey". Went over to shops & mines; thought lots of Deptford. Shelling a bit; a few dug-outs knocked in; no damage done. Brigadier came round. Learn we're in for 8 days. Played cricket with Adams. Censored letters & wrote some. Children killed in village with shrapnel. Clear view of enemy's position. Loos on fire in places. Sent after lunch to D Company to help in firing line; rotten luck; however. Clean trenches and roomy dug-out; - an awful bore though. Didn't do much, and felt very lonely and dull, horrible feeling. Went to sleep. Up at stand to.
Wed. 23 On duty until 7 o'clock; nothing doing; just mooned about the trench. Felt particularly down. Slept till 10 o'clock. Letter from W.D. - such a nice one - and Angell brought in a bunch of roses. They were so nice. But made me feel more down. Shelling going on a bit; didn't care much about it. Read and slept nearly all day. Had meals by myself in dug-out. Letters from Mrs. H. and L. Wrote a short story, which I expect I'll tear up.
Thurs. 24 Off tonight, except for stand-to. Adams nicely brought "Times" and "Mirror" of yesterday down. Slacked about all day. Very quiet. Went with Adams for wander through deserted village of Grenay. Sort of garden-city; must look pretty in the peace-times. All houses seemed to have been cleared of everything; whether by owners or not can't say. Muggy day; slight rain & trenches wet. Dolphin fired at balloon, which went down to our amusement; it was two miles off. Tea with A Company; much more merry. Still doleful on the whole. Talked over dinner about dancing. What is it? Had for breakfast bacon, egg, tea; lunch cold tongue, potatoes, wine; tea, cake & honey; dinner, warm ham, peas (from village), potatoes, gooseberries, custard and wine. Cocoa at ten o'clock. Muggy night. Fierce bombardment and machine guns on our right (French).
Fri. 25 Easy night, although stand-to at 2 rather messes things. Bed again at 3 and on duty at 7. Cigarettes & note from Willis & "Sketch" from Sidcup. Felt better. Lot of rain; trenches running with water, soon became very muddy (clay soil); swished water into communications trench; everything very sticky and wet. Wrote Mrs. W and sent Roby a bat. Angell very talkative; thinks I'm untidy; I've been very good, as a fact. Corporal shot his foot cleaning rifle; had specially warned men about cartridge brush. My duty tonight from 2 to 7. Had my tea 10.30. Couldn't sleep a wink. Got letters at 12 o'clock and "Tatler". Read 'em, and still couldn't sleep. Fairly quiet night; very muggy. Stood to at 2 a.m. & carried on. Trenches drying a bit, but still soft.
Sat. 26 Off at 7 a.m.; went to sleep. Breakfast 10 o'clock. More sleep. Adams came down after lunch. Went back; had tea with A Company. Nothing doing all round. Brought some roses & "Punch" back with me. Asked to go out on patrol for D Company; made arrangements, and they came to their senses and sent ---. Stupid farce; --- went out at 10 and came back at 11; all very nervy and no good done. Lomas and Coly got D.C.M.'s. No officers' awards yet. Young back, but unlikely to relieve me.
Sun. 27 Up on and off during the night; still nothing much doing. Tea with A Company; got shelled going up. Writing pad & photo from L. Muggy wet day. Took patrol out as last night in --'s place. Went out at 9.30. Scheme to go . --- in charge of B Company. Ten men each; went out about 200 yards. --- lost direction and came in on top of me; found ourselves so Took command; placed each man so . Waited quietly till 12.30; nothing doing. Very wet in long corn. Heard them putting up wire & whistling. Back at 1 o'clock. Men behaved very well, and seemed to like coming out with me. Found nice letter from Mrs. Beaumont & picture paper. Tin of ointment from W.D. Dislike ---. Picture from "Sketch" on A Company's wall looked very enticing. Young back, but not better.
Mon. 28 Slept on till 7; breakfast 9 o'clock. Warned men about cartridge in breach and safety catch down. Had a few pot shots at nothing. Footled around. Shells dropping further back. Man shot through arm badly; didn't rub my warning in. Wrote letters. Tea, and went back to A Company. Pleased to get back. Cursed platoon for being late. Relieved by 18th. Left Grenay 10 o'clock; billeted at Les Brebis. Pitiable to see old women & children with their belongings wearily walking out of Grenay, from whence they had been evacuated. Nice billet & good bed. Put platoon into billets, and read "Cornhill" till I went to sleep.
Tues. 29 Up 8 o'clock; breakfast; strolled round. Had hot bath, proper one, and also platoon, in mine. Read a bit & wrote. Censored letters. Leave being arranged for; off chance of getting it, but I won't think about it; too good to think of. Took working party at 8 o'clock up to trenches held by 19th & dug new trench in front; saw Gould; got shelled, no damage. Knocked off at 10 o'clock; nearly lost way coming back. Wrote L. in bed. Lot of rain knocking about. This village being shelled.
Wed. 30 Up at 9 o'clock; breakfast. Find I am attached to D Company until Young gets better; beastly nuisance. My night off tonight, and I shall have to take another working party. Went for stroll with Hooper & Matthews. Nothing much doing all day. Adams' knee a bit painful. Felt slack myself. Got some soda-water & three W. & S. running. Took working party - 50 men & Sergt. Lomas - up to 19th W.3. Guide lost us in trenches. Got there at last at 11 o'clock. Men worked exceedingly cheerfully & very well; quite interesting to be with them. No shelling. Left at 12.30; back at 2.30. Had a lot of letters. L. wrote from Goring. Pity it's wet for her. Dreary place when it's wet. Very muddy here. My landlord hit with shrapnel in mine works.
Thurs. 1 Up at 11 o'clock. Re-read my letters. Had breakfast & lunch together. Read papers. Have to move this evening. Tea. Slept till dinner time. Censored letters. Moved off at 9 o'clock; platoon very ragged, Going up to the South of Grenay; nobody to show a nose during the day; no fires & are to live in cellars. Got up there at 10.30. Saw platoon safely away, and had dug-out started on. Had to get water during the night. Had a long, thoughtful & nice letter from L.; also varied of goodies. Adams & I ate them down in the cellar. Very stuffy, and felt cold during the night.
Fri. 2 Rough night. Woke up 8 o'clock; ate some cake; washed; breakfast. Saw to platoon. Strolled round deserted village with Adams. Wrote L. a thoughtful letter. Played the goat a bit; wheeled Adams about in a pram. Read & slept. Nothing doing. Moved into trenches at 9 o'clock. Hooper took snapshot; expect it won't come out. Took over from 17th. Left village called South Maroc. Our time here connects up with French; rather interesting. They appear to have their elder men in this part of the line. Went out in front & thoroughly examined wire. Appears to be a lot of dead ground in front of us. Got very nice dug-out; roses & lilies, table & bed; probably French; they make excellent dug-outs. Went to sleep at 10 o'clock. Have to take duty at 4 a.m. On and off during the night. Went out & reported on wire. Quiet night. Slept.
Sat. 3 Roused at 11 o'clock by C.O.& he cussed about men being asleep; rather silly; anyhow, nothing to do with me. Drew map of trenches. Had a go at snipers. Wrote. Adams read "Tatler". Had to talk severely to ---. French Company fired ten rounds rapid to test rifles. --- (ass) fired a trench mortar, promptly returned with interest, also some fizz-bangs, on our right. Nice day. Good outlook from our lines over towards Souchez. Not supposed to be on, but --- keeps coming round sending me on various errands. He's rather a dashed nuisance, and very selfish; still he does what he's told, which is the main thing.
Sun 4 Off
and on during the night & day. Men working better and
well. Wrote L. Censored letters. Nothing much doing. Slept a
good bit. Went out in front at night and repaired wire.
Snipers busy, but got nobody. Pretty fight on our right;
various colours, noise & imagination made an interesting
Mon. 5 Off and on during the night, mostly on; men working very well. Had a fairly slack day. Went down the French lines & chatted about Souchez. The French seemed very settled at war, as if it was their permanent job; our men seem always to be waiting for something. Few trench mortars over. Watched heavy guns firing at batteries. 7th officers up to take over. Understood K.'s coming up to this part of the line. Brigadier round; turfed --- off. ---getting into disgrace over --- and untidy trench; he is getting a bit rattled. Had a looted gramophone in dug-out; great fun. Suggested Company buying some war loan; didn't catch on. Feel as if war is going to last for ages and ages.
Tues. 6 Easy night for duties. Usual flare-up on our right. We had a few trench mortars over; one failed to explode near Adams's dug-out; had place cleared up, and slacked during the day. Hooper's brother in England dead, he was going to get married when on leave. ? now relieved by 7th at 10.30. Slight rain. Long way to go with billets; didn't arrive until 2.30; men marched & behaved very well. Hooper and Thomasset collared the only two bedrooms. Adams & I turned in on floor. They came back, having found their rooms already taken. Much chuckling, as we had the best room; serves 'em right. Beastly village called Philosophe.
Wed. 7 Orderly Officer. Such a dirty billet & mess. Wind blowing dirt over everything all night. Drew cash from Maizengarbe. Inspected men and complimented them on their behaviour in trenches. Found nice billet & mess. Made a lot of row & generally played the fool. Thomasset & Adams took working party; had to point out it wasn't my turn; did so successfully. Read till pretty late. Nice bed & got into pyjamas. Les Brebis mine on fire. Guns near been firing; shake houses. No shells inwards today. Wished the war over. My name gone forward for reserve machine-gun officer.
Thurs. 8 Up 8 o'clock; breakfast; bright fresh day. Nice billet & mess. Talk of leave going on; don't think seriously about it. Adams Orderly Officer. Slacked about; read Dardanelles despatch; heard rumours to be transferred to D; kicked a lot. Birdwood back with Company. Costell unwell. Letter from Mrs. H.; she talks about khaki wedding and asks me not to say anything. Topping parcel from Sidcup; awfully good of them. Took working party to trenches near Vermelles. Not disturbed, although Verey light fell near us; men working fairly well. In-and-Out colours sent me. Fancy wearing them & seeing L. again - like Heaven; but I want to see Germany smashed first. Back at 2.30 a.m. Adams left tea in Thermos flask for me.
Fri. 9 Slept until 9 o'clock, when Birdwood came & woke Adams & incidentally me up. Had breakfast in pyjamas and went back to bed. Inspected platoon. Read papers and wrote and slacked around. "Tatler" & letter from L. Hooper going on leave tomorrow. Having quiet & easy time; Adams & Thomasset on working parties. Rumours of an attack; ordered to be ready for a move. Wrote L. an extra letter. Message of congratulation from Kitchener. Authorities don't seem to expect a winter campaign. Fail to see why not. London papers talk of a big German attack; wish they would. Bed fairly soon.
Sat. 10 Slept till late & slacked around a lot. Saw Hooper off; went out in my pyjamas to the admiration of the village. Birdwood left in command; --- sulky. Had a rag in the shop with Adams; sold all sorts of things; great fun & loss to the shop. Left Philosophe 9 o'clock. Saw Gould 19th. Had a stroll through Vermelles. Maizengarbe 10 o'clock; nice billet very; had a liqueur. Snubbed Birdwood, make platoon comfy. Read "Times". Wondered what Hooper was doing. Thought no end of L.
Sun. 11 A
slack lazy day. Nice billet; stopped in bed till late. Read,
wrote & ate. Strolled down to Chateau garden; has been
shelled. Did nothing all day. --- piqued & stupid
because he has not command of Company Owners of house
buzzing about removing furniture; persuaded them to leave
bed. Got off w.p.15, as bombing course
to attend. ---'s turn; Adams took it - beastly shame.
Mon. 12 Up 7 o'clock. Strolled over to Noeux-les-Mines. Interested in Indian soldiers. Reported at bombing school; found class not to start till tomorrow. Nice man at Divl. Cyclist Corps. Had whisky and cigar, and saw Sunday papers. Strolled back. Nice day. Road shelled; boy had leg smashed. Chatted with French boy, who swore in English at Germans. Did nothing when I got back; read papers and slept. Deuce of a row in the evening when B Company came round & we cheered Escombe & his D.S.O. Wrote letters. My B.W.16 arrived safely. Had vague thoughts of K.'s army landing at Archangel and helping Russia; probably wrong. --- still sulky. Strolled in our garden & ate cherries.
Tues. 13 Up 8 o'clock. Inspected; lectured; drilled. Lunch. Wandered round; read ; slept. Thorne & Hooper to dinner. Parcel from L. & cigs from Willie; contents O.K. Bored to tears with ---. Billet people collared furniture; shifted next door; quite good. Bed early; feel very slack, probably lack of exercise. Notice that we're to go back to trenches; no rest. Bombing school starts tomorrow.
Wed. 14 Turned up at School at 9 o'clock. Had no breakfast, owing to Lisskin's laziness. Corporal talked vaguely what I knew already about bombs. Lunched at Maizengarbe and cycled back. Threw bombs and had a jaw from School Major. Lecture at 6, which I dodged. Maizengarbe; got my letters. Dinner; came back with Angell; pouring rain; got good billet in butcher's shop. My French improving. Had some coffee; went to bed early. Rained like the devil. Some English Tommies, marching by, singing a lot.
Thurs. 15 Up 7 o'clock; fresh morning. Breakfast. Met daughter of billetter, Fernande, blue-eyed, golden-haired girl of 7, and a little friend stopping here - Paule - aged 6. Such nice children; we became great pals. Attended school and learned a bit about bombs. Angell very attentive. Finished school at 4.30; went for a walk with the two children. Streets crowded with soldiers, all regiments, French & English. Staff Officer grinned at me. Got some chocs for kiddies and Quaker Oats for me. Spent the evening playing with children. My French improving. Wrote L. and did nothing else. Bed early. Pretty sight to see Paule ordering huge dog about. Very bright children.
Fri. 16 Up 8 o'clock; breakfast; parade. Found Clayton and another officer injured through bomb. School rather nervy. Messed about during day, Angell cooking me excellent meals. Have become one of the family here, and the children simply swarm over me. Went for walk in the evening and got them a brooch each and some chocs. Read papers, wrote L., and went to bed early. Shells near us today; no damage.
Sat. 17 Up 6.30; attended men's breakfast & had mine; paraded, practised throwing bombs. Angell arrived with post; only one letter from L., a wedding having intervened. No news in papers. Having a very slack time here. Angell Looking after me excellently. Had a competition in bomb-throwing; 21st won, 20th second. Our men a better class of chaps than rest of division. Went for walk with Fernande & Paule to Cemetery; many graves of French soldiers, 2 Germans, lots of Algerians & 3 London Territorials. Saw our men playing cricket. Bought some chocs for children & some writing paper for Adams and some Eau de Cologne for me. Introduced to Commissioner of Police. Rather a rainy day. My thoughts like a fool will go towards leave, which I know will never come off.
Sun. 18 Up 9 o'clock; breakfast; parade 10 o'clock. School finished. Strolled round; saw new Division K.'s Army17; very fine men, good physique; most fine N.C.O.'s; if sample, then army ought to do well. Band played. Tramped across country; saw French aeroplane down; marvellous machine for one man to manipulate. Few shells sent into town. Wrote and read papers. Left at 7.30. Most comfortable and hospitable billet; people very tired. Came back in mess cart. Arrived trenches at 8.30; saw Hooper and said Cheero! Went out in front. Chatted with Adams. Very in and out line and rough trenches; poky dug-out. Heard I am to be bombing officer. Je ne désire pas.
Mon. 19 Cold sleepless night. Breakfast. Strolled round lines. Beastly trenches, badly organised & badly made, working parties carried out on bad system, therefore work bad. Lunch; had Mrs. Harrison's wine; very good. Parcel from L. and Blackwood's Magazine from Uncle Peyton. Wrote letters. Man killed by shell. Good bit of shelling going on; pip-squeaks; they have the range of B line. Lots of observation balloons up and aeroplanes. Talked to Thomasset about bombing; told him I didn't want it. --- came around with ---; snubbed him. Bored with ---, though he means well. Beautiful day and glorious sunset.
Tues. 20 Up at all odd hours. Bits of shelling. Trenches fairly quiet. Thomasset goes off bombing. Read Blackwood's & wrote letters. Did nothing much all day. Can't get any sleep somehow. 6th Battn. Cameron's18 came up (K.A.) for instruction; arranged for their reception & met them 12 o'clock midnight. Men very tired; made them comfy; got the two subalterns some tea and sent 'em to sleep. Guided their Captain back to a dug-out. Had a bang at some snipers; nearly killed by one. The two subs - MacKenzie & Leach - nice fellows. Most glorious sunset I've ever seen. Wrote Morrison nastily, also H.J.A.
Wed. 21 Up most of the night; least, after seeing sunrise went to sleep till 7. Spent the day in teaching K.'s officers MacKenzie & Leach; nice chaps. The O.C. A Company a beast and swine to his men; kicked them in the trenches. Had a very full day, but no shelling. Nearly got sniped again. Troops getting up very close to action. Guns very busy. We made a big fire in Auchy les La Bassée. Took Company out at 9.30, being relieved by 18th. Pusch of 18th nice chap. Accident in Quality Street; German shell exploded, one officer killed, two seriously wounded. Fagged out with Company; took them overland instead of trenches; quite as safe and not nearly so tiring. Billeted them in School; didn't like them being all in one building. Found no billet for officers; had to fag around for one; bed at two o'clock, beastly tired. Took some chlorodyne. No letter from L.
Thur. 22 Up at 9 o'clock; breakfast. Saw Castle. Men shelled out of School; had a marvellous escape. Had jaw with C.O. & Thorne & arranged to take over Bombers. Think it will be all right. Lunch. Arranged odds & ends about bombers. Men having too many working parties; whole Battn. getting very washed out. Lots of troops about. Everybody thinking of leave. Had to go on my last working party. Went up, found I wasn't wanted, came back & went to bed about 10 o'clock. Expect to go into Corps Reserve in a few weeks.
Fri. 23 Good sleep; up late; hot bath. Went down to old billet in Philosophe with Castle; had some wine. Lunch. Played cricket. Everything quiet. K.'s Army had some casualties in the trenches. Orderly Officer. Note from Downer saying Cheero! Censored letters. Paraded my men and talked nicely to them. Think I'm going to have a good time. Adams & I both a bit riotous. Full moon; went for a stroll with Adams; saw 15th working party. Shortish letter from L.; hope Mrs H. not unwell. Feel that something big is going to happen shortly in war. Bed fairly early.
Sat. 24 Up nice & late. Put my men in nice billet. Went down to old billet in Philosophe with Adams & Castle; had some wine. Went for a stroll; arrested excited artilleryman; got him away without the struggle that seemed imminent. No post of Battn; heard mail-bags missed the boat; hope nothing serious has happened. Saw Thorne, who promised me a map. Bought souvenir ring for 3 frs. Dolphin went on leave.
Sun. 25 Roused by message to attend with Co. Officer at C.O. Very swanky. Arranged to take over Grenadiers 18th. Went up & saw Dircks, 18th C.O. Back to lunch. Very busy arranging for reliefs for bombers; everything satisfactory. Lots of letters; Australia, Sales & Governor; only one from L., with letter from Keppel. Hope she doesn't see him. Went up to the trenches X.I. and took over. Saw Downer; made me laugh with his serious description of his marriage and the joys thereof. He was tucked up asleep in a B.W. and travelling rug and sandbags at his feet.
Mon. 26 Had a longish sleep. Busy very during day, seeing to bombing affairs. Saw Thorne. Had to go over whole line constantly. Had topping lunch with Adams, who's in reserve. Saw Young and Downer; quite nice to see them. Showed very stodgy K.O.S.B.19 man called --- round. Letter from L., having missed one day previously. Find bombing work jolly interesting. Line fairly quiet; few pip-squeaks into Sap 18; nobody hurt. Very crowded in A Company dug-out; rather bored with this Scotchman, so very stolid and stodgy. Lent five men to School for Bombers. Adams warned to go tomorrow.
Tues. 27 Up pretty well all night. Capt. Hunt of K.O.S.B. quite a good chap and keen on learning. Message to meet Thorne at 10 o'clock; discussed bombs and things. Lunch with Adams & Lovibond in Quality Street20. Fair amount of shelling; K.O.S.B. man killed. Went over all our lines of trenches; strengthened Sap 18; beastly position, ought to be abandoned or properly strengthened. Bombers all very cheerful. Very busy at night; arranged for a new trench & started men at work; had wire repair outside Sap 18; talked with K.O.S.B. men & made 'em a bit more confident. Looking up bombing positions & had a cold sleep in uncomfy dug-out from 4 a.m. till 8 o/c. First Brighton letter from L.; sounds quite lively.
Wed. 28 Did early morning round. Saw Thorne at H.Q. Find men work well and like their job. Bombers getting into shape. Good few shells over. Nothing much doing. Getting rather bored with Scotchman. Met working party and started them. Thought we had a dead Hun in front of us; found he was a Frenchman; very old head fell off when we touched him. Went about in bright moonlight & didn't get sniped. Turned in at 10 o'clock.
Tues. 29 Up at 7 o'clock. Had breakfast & wash to meet Thorne at Maizengarbe. Nice walk over country. Had to take D.G.O.22 of 140th over trenches. Very tiring job, and rather bored with him. Don't like small men & Welshmen & he was both, named ---. Lunch. Scotch officers crowding us out. Slept during afternoon; arranged work for evening. Met working party and stopped with them all the time; 18th worked well. Came back & wandered about lines, seeing to things; & got to sleep about 4 a.m.
Fri. 30 Up at 8. Washed and saw Thorne at H.Q. Met Whitby of 19th. Arranged for relief by 8th; hurried them up. Feel I ought to be doing bigger things. However. so long as I do what they want well, I ought to be satisfied. Very busy making details of stores etc. Wrote L. a rather in & out letter. Took Wilson, Grant & Watts round; rather fagged. Went out at 7; reliefs all worked well. Got my platoon into Maizengarbe at 9.30 and into good billets. Angell had a good billet for me; turned in at 10.30. Thunderstorm during the day. Met Champion, 2nd Lt.18th; nice chap; keen on bombing.
Sat. 31 Had a good sleep. Breakfast at 8 o/c. Paraded & inspected men at 9.30. Had talk with Thorne & Scotch officers about bombs. Nice day. Lunch. Inspected & took particulars of men's kit for indent. Had a hot bath in a large basin. Clean everything on; felt very comfy. Made out indent for men's things. Wrote Sales & Foster. Letter from L. Dinner; nice one. Ripping parcel from L.; everything nice; chocs, de Raskes. Took them to my own billet for consumption & felt greedy. Went to bed early & wrote to L. half a letter. Thomasset bagged nice bed with fleas; mine quite comfy and free from such.
Sun. 1 Up 8 o'clock; had a good night. Paraded my men. Practised bomb-throwing & had a chat with them. They all seem very keen, and are a fine lot. Lunch. Paraded for drill & examined billets. Had tea in a cornfield. Beautiful day. Slight shelling. Feel slack. Adams turned up; pleasant to see him. Couldn't eat dinner; bed very early. Read a good while. Wilson very boisterous and bluff. Rather disappointed with L.'s recent letters. Think I'll ask her to write about twice a week.
Mon. 2 Up pretty late. Paraded platoon; inspected men; interesting day's training. Beautiful weather. C.O. interfered a bit. Played cricket; got out normal way; got a few wickets; great joy at a game. Made a deuce of a row in the evening.
Tues. 3 Saw Thorne 9.30; arranged for Course while in Corps Reserve. Lunch. Wrote L. Walked with Thorne, Whitby, Dircks, Clarke to Gosnay. Many troops moving. Nice walk. Found we were expected to sleep in shacks; very wet. Had omelette for dinner. School very slack. Slept in straw in loft; good fun. Angell gave me short letter from L. We laughed and joked at everything. C.O. very loose in his statements; got annoyed & told 'em so. Undressed & slept in pyjamas and mac; cold, but covered myself with straw. Nice country round here; lots of corn waiting to be cut.
Wed. 4 Up at 8.30, after a very showery night. Good breakfast. Lecture by Hermann; nothing much new. Lunch; Maconochie. Pretty spot & nice country round here. Did some trench practice in the afternoon; no system. Walked into Bethune; nice stroll; champagne cocktails at the Globe; place crowded out with transport & other slackers. Nice seeing shop again. Dinner at Pomme d'Or; nice dinner & some English beer; had a pleasant evening. Walked back with some fun; got back to billet about 10.30. Nice & tired; went to sleep. Disturbed by Whitby 3 o'clock who had rats crowding over him.
Thurs. 5 After a "ratty" night up at 8 o/c; good breakfast. School during day. Beautiful day. Learned rather little. School badly organised. Started out for Allonagne at 5.30 with Clarke 17th. Hot walk. Nice country. Many aeroplanes. Nice gay-looking places. Lots of men with new tunics; all grumbling about extra parades. Nice billet with Adams. Had a wash & dinner; strolled round. Lots of letters; one from Fairclough in Los Angeles, and one from Dad. Went to bed early & had a good night's rest.
Fri. 6 Up 7.30; breakfast 8 o/c. Beautiful day. Nothing much to do. Wrote a lot of letters. Saw Thorne. Arranged things for my platoon. Rode into Bethune with Adams. Splendid ride; horse went well. Had tea with topping pastries. Had photos taken. Ordered grenades. Bought a stick. Had a drink. Generally wandered round. Dinner 7.30. Made up parody on "Roaming in the Gloaming" for concert tomorrow night. Parcel from Ashburton. Bed early.
Sat. 7. Up 8 o/c. Breakfast. Put my platoon into separate billets; quite nice ones. Went to Brigade Office; saw Danby & Thorne. Made up part of reserve platoon under C.Hooper. Lunch. Read papers. Learned song. Had tea with A Company; some swearing by ---. Dinner & a ripping letter from L.; wish she'd always write like that. Had a good concert in the evening. Some of the men showed good talent. Sang a parody of London; went down jolly well, and I liked doing it. Had a drink; and bed.
Sun. 8 Up latish. Instructed platoon. Church service; very nice and impressive. Letters from L. & Dad & Florrie. Rode into Bethune with Adams & Grant. Nice ride; good mount. Had nice tea; Grant played piano. Bought some odds & ends. Dinner at Allonagne. Argued about war. Came back to billet early and wrote letters. My French improving; pretty awful though. Bed early.
Mon. 9 Up at 8 o/c; breakfast. Paraded; talked about bombs. Thorne talked about attack. Did some throwing. Lunch. Afternoon parade washed out. G.O.C. thinks we're doing too much work. Slacked around. Strolled over with Adams to Lapiquoy. Looked for practice trenches; couldn't find 'em. Got wet coming back. Nice stroll & feeling very rested. Dinner & back to billet very early. Bed at 9.30. Have to get up early.
Tues. 10 Up at 6 o/c; breakfast. Parade 7 o/c; marched to mine at Raibert for baths. French boy showed us the way across fields. Topping bath; enjoyed it huge. Fine mine. 2000 employees. Back for battn. drill; C.O. has bad word of comment. Very hot indeed. Slept during afternoon. Rotten sentence on Sergt. French; Adams upset. Tea; strolled to Lapiquoy. Nice walk; nice country & weather. Feel a trifle unsettled. Wonder if it is fate to go under. Stupid thoughts anyhow. Dinner. Wrote L. a longish letter. Giggled with Adams in bed.
Wed. 11 Up 6.30; took Physical till 7.30. Breakfast. Parade 9 o/c. Very hot & nice weather. Talked about bombs & practised throwing. Took mine & 18th in close order drill. Played A Company No.3 platoon at cricket; splendid fun; won, 39,58; took 7 for 19 with off breaks. Tea. Rode into Bethune; horse cut knee a little. Dinner at Pomme d'Or; met Hooper and bomb school there; merry meal; lots of fizz. Rode home in the dark; interesting & jolly. Back about 11. Wrote L. and giggled with Adams. Hooper goes to Havre for a month.
Thurs. 12 Up 6 o/c; trifle heady. Physical; trench work. Got tired giving bayonet instruction. Drilled & spoke sternly. Played A Company and won; only made 9; got 2 or 3 wickets. Had some fizz; jawed about song. Topping weather still. Downer gave me nice writing pad. Arranged for a match for Battn. Strolled through town in slippers & socks. Beautiful cold water from well at billet. Cleared table of papers. Ordered for route march tomorrow. Lots of falling stars.
Fri. 13 Up at 7.30. Paraded at 9 o/c for a route march with Battn. through Rozenheim, Lapiquoy, Chocque. Rained rather a lot. Band very bad, but my chaps' mouth organs kept things going. Stopped in a field for lunch. Officers ran races. Transport gave us a show. Had a race on Dr.'s pony against Stanger on Adjt.'s pony. Glorious speed; won easily; couldn't pull up. Stanger came bad cropper on bridge; I fell over him, hurt my knee a bit; Stanger's horse badly cut. Tea & fizz for dinner. Sang at concert; not so good as ours. Getting quite a celebrity in the Battn. for being slapdash; think it's due to efficiency of bombers. Two letters from L. Cold bath. Blackwood from Uncle; instructive article by Junior Sub.
Sat. 14 Up 7.30. Paraded; did bayonet fighting, new style. Had some fizzly with Thorne & Lovibond, who are going on leave; talked about engineering. Dircks 18th left in charge of Company Battn. sports in the afternoon. Quite fine & men seemed happy. Went for ride to Bethune with Adams. Bought some odds & ends & had good dinner at Pomme d'Or. Saw some Coldstream Guards there. Felt very superior to Kitchener people. My knee is a bit stiff from yesterday. Country looking very fine. Men all improving. Got home about 10 o/c. Felt rather fagged.
Sun. 15 Up at 8 o/c. Paraded as a Company for Church Service with Brigade. Rained a lot. Service cancelled. Lunch. Played cricket; good game; we won; C.O. played. Tea. Williams back from leave. Had some fizz for dinner. Ordered for route march tomorrow; later cancelled. Washed a small French boy. Wrote L., and bed about 11 o'clock.
Mon. 16 Up earlyish. Did Physical Drill. Paraded Reserve Bombers with Hooper & took them to trenches & jawed to them. Lunch. Played cricket. Dinner. Went round to B mess; played vingt-et-un & had some fizz. Ragged & broke things. Went with Adams & turned Birdwood & Wilson out of bed & had some fun. Bed, tired, about 12 o/c.
Tues. 17 Up 7 o/c; 7.30 had long run with platoon. Paraded both platoons & did work & practice. Rained very heavily and stopped work. Lunch. Went to sleep. Wrote letters. Went to Sports; good band. Dinner. Jawed about war, and squashed ---. Impressed them with bombs & tactics. Got a bit of a cold in the head. Bed about 10 o/c. Adams & I agree in our criticisms of everybody.
Wed. 18 Up 8 o/c. Slight cold in head. Made arrangements about moving. We had second half Battn. Started at 2 o/c after hearing Ball's gramophone. Appalling road selected by our very incompetent staff. Transport stuck; they can't manage a simple route march from one town to another. Got to Houchin 8.30. Dark. No billets. Men have to sleep in an open field. Stupid beastly slackness on part of disgraceful staff. They ought to be shot. Slept on my valise on floor. Stanger posted to A Company.
Thurs. 19 Up at 8 o/c. Wandered round. Looked after men's breakfast & saw 19th going off to dig. Back & walked in orchard & ate raspberries. Washed & had breakfast. Beastly cold. Paraded. Barter called & looked at us all the morning. Created a fairly bad impression. Lunch. Cold getting worse. Had some fizz with Bignell, Clarke & Dircks. Dug new trenches all the afternoon. Stuck up for 20th to other officers. Rather tired. Tea & read papers. Beastly bored with --- & ---. Arranged for Clarke to sleep with us; got nice bivouacs for my chaps. Went up & saw them last thing; they seemed fairly comfy.
Fri. 20 Up at 8 o/c. Parade 9 o/c. Crowds of senior officers all round us. Barter raised the wind in them. Crowded out with C.O.s, Brigadiers & Majors. Trenches for positions dug right & left. Great fun. My platoon easily the best. Escombe told off to supervise. Short letter from L. Tea, and went over Noeux-les-Mines with Clarke & Adams. Had some fizz. Saw two children & Mme Herrsin; very jolly. Heard that loads of German dead were carted through Lens; also they expected us to get through at Neuve Chapelle & had made all arrangements to shift. Got back about 9 & had dinner & listened to gramophone.
Sat. 21 Up 8 o/c. Parade 9 o/c. Swarmed round with C.O.'s etc. Worked very hard training & jawing to platoon. General fussed them all up. Seniors very windy. Lunch & Parade again. Tea. Ragged Orderly Room. Walked to Bethune with Adams; got photos. Crowds of Kitcheners about; our line must be very crowded. Nice cross-country tramp to Croisson; railway looked like White City. Had dinner at Pomme d'Or & some fizz. Walked home in moonlight. Got back about 11.30, nicely tired.
Sun. 22 Up at 7.30; parade 9 o/c. Very busy instructing and demonstrating. Leave 'bout stopped; Birdwood & Long held up at Boulogne, Thorne & Love at Folkestone. No post. Very tiring day. Walked to Bethune with Hooper & Adams. Nice walk & dinner; enjoyed the evening. Got back about 11; wrote L. & sent photo P.C. Crowds & crowds of troops everywhere. Rotten general news about war; black everywhere. Hear rumour that we push in September.
Mon. 23 Up 7.30; nice day. Busy parade again. Barter turned up; fairly well pleased. As soon as he went ridiculous sight to see all the C.O.s etc. troop off & take no further notice of bombing. C.O. tried to hurry me up; cut him short. Very tiring all the instruction. Had an exceedingly nice dinner & fizz. Felt rather bright. Criticised everybody. Strong rumours of attack in few weeks. No letter from L. for two days. --- turned up; busy little person.
Tues. 24 Up 7.30; beautiful day. Paraded all day again. Very fatiguing and feel that superior officers are mean, small-minded, and dull. Men very keen. Went for baths with my men to Barbin; quite a French village and interesting. Fed to death with our appalling staff and their stupid, thoughtless ways. --- to dinner; his Majorship will spoil him. Nice dinner; spent quiet evening. Rather a lot of paratyphoid knocking about.
Wed. 25 Up 7.30. Should have paraded 8 o/c; simply declined to do so; paraded at 9. Carried on until 11; knocked off to enable men to go to Sports. Didn't bother to go. They seem to be principally for dug-outs23, A.S.C., and Transport. Played football; enjoyed it; didn't play well. Angell quite a good player. Had a chat with Major Matthews; he doesn't think there'll be an attack. Shifted a platoon for hospital. Quiet dinner & jawed cricket. Bed fairly early. All ran amuck & smashed everything. Slight headache.
Thurs. 26 Up 7.30; breakfast. Parade all day again. Barten came over. Washed out afternoon parade. Went to Bethune with Downer. Beastly horse. Beautiful day. Dinner. Forgot evening parade; turned up late & punished a man for doing ditto. Bombing arousing a keen interest in everybody. Thwaites returned today.
Fri. 27 Up 7.30; breakfast; parade. Lectured to officers on bombing, also to men. Pretty full day. Thwaites present; didn't bother me much. Very hot day. Finished parade at 4 o'clock, too fagged to do anything. Just slacked. Very short note from L. Leave talked a lot about. Ragged in bedroom, and let bomb off under Castle's bed. Adams not very well. Feeling a bit stale myself.
Sat. 28 Up 7.30; breakfast. Parade; usual; very hot, and let my men have a very easy time. Tea with 19th; very polite. Grenadiers & a Company to a Church service at 6.30. Very fine red sunset. Whole Brigade & Staff there. Fine manly speaker & some simple hymns. On a hill, and guns firing in the distance. Thought of L. & wondered if she had been to church since I came away. Hoped that she had. Dinner in the evening by ---. Rather stiff. Nice food; everybody jealous of each other.
|Sun. 29 Thomasset & Clouth for leave. Up 7.30. Most unlike Sunday. Usual work all day. Afternoon off. Paraded at 5 o'clock; raining. Played bridge with Pusch, Dircks & Topham. Quite wet night. Dinner; invited Pusch. Had chat with C.O. about varying programme. Gave useful lecture to platoon. Heard new story of man being buried while church service was going on.|
Mon. 30 Up 7.30. Usual Parades. Lectured rather well. Ragged again in the evening. Pusch getting a commission in the Irish Guards. Battn moved off to duty at Double Crassier. 19th lost Capt. Hanewinkel at same game. Managed by device to keep A Company mess. Slept in topping room. Letter from Will; wrote him.
Tues. 31 Up 7.30; nice billet. Paraded. All Generals and many officers of Division present for an exhibition gas. Went through gas trench with smoke helmet on; no ill effects. Huge fun hanging on to mess and billet. Went to Verquin in the morning for topping baths. Went all over mines; sad to see young girls & small boys wasting their lives. Played football in the evening against 19th; won 2 to 1. 19th officer killed; buried at Bethune. All leave stopped. More confirmation of rumour of attack.
Wed. 1 Up 7.30; breakfast; parade. More attack rumours & told by Thorne that leave is stopped. Found 17th claimed our mess; got another one; held on to billet, though. Turfed --- off. Things all seem different now there's no leave; taken the wind out of my sails. Wet evening; rather uneventful. Played nap & won 3 frs. Fairly good dinner by Angell. Heavy & light guns moving up towards line. Fancy attack will take place in about 2 weeks. Fancy my chaps will give a good show if they get a chance. L. wrote from Sidcup; I am very glad.
Thurs. 2 Up 7.30; breakfast. Paraded. Saw Battn bivouacking in field, very sorry for theirselves. Too wet for parade in afternoon. Played bridge; won 20 frs. More rumours of attack. Wilson gone to St. Omer. Putties & watch arrived. Leave stopped & upside down. Still got nice billet, which is welcome this wet weather.
Fri. 3 Up 7.30; very wet weather; too wet for parade. Played bridge with Dircks & Topham of the 18th. Went over after lunch to Divl. H.Q. & saw lots of German bombs. Had a chat with General Barter. Roads look very muddy. Thorne told me about attack; every thing seems very complete; going to be a big affair. Back to dinner; Escombe, Grant & Downer in to dinner. 18 or 19 chaps came in afterwards; quite a crowd. Played more bridge. Went to bed late & tired. Saw Brooks; heard that Quilter was shot by one of the 15th men.
Sat. 4 Up 7.30; breakfast; saw C.O. 8.30. Attended conference Corps Commanders 9.30. Had details of attack for Brigade with distribution of Companies. Went on strawberry roan to view position. Looks rather thorny. Our objective not very clear. Our job depends on 18th getting through, on 19th supporting our left, 15th Divn coming up on extreme left & 140th Brigade coming up on right; advance about 11/2 miles, 2 main trenches, lots of minor ones, much barbed wire. Two main roads. Kick-off from new trench. Wonderful seeing preparations; guns, ammunition, rails etc. going up; constant stream of traffic. Feel happy over issue. May be able to go in front centre of battalion. German flag between lines. Captain doesn't seem very sure & confident; responsibility, I expect. Awfully wet. Battn moved to Noeux. Fine gallop back.
Sun. 5 Partridge & Hooper for home. Partridge's leave stopped. Up 8 o/c. More rain. Not a very nice church service. Played bridge nearly all day. Had lunch with 19th. --- very keen on a decoration. Quiet day; wrote some letters. Had big Australian mail. Very excited at thought of Florrie coming home. Nice letter from Edie; expect another letter soon. Changed billets; went up to Pusch. Clean place; slept on valise. Had change clothing, and wore slacks for first time in France. Big movement of troops. When Battalion moved yesterday they thought they were attacking & seemed very serious.
Mon. 6 Up 7.30; breakfast. Parade; told my chaps something about attack. They seem quite fit for it. Lunch. Thorne gave us some more details. Altered formation slightly; made one or two suggestions. Wrote letters. Broadsheet from W.D.; quite a nice idea. Played bridge; won 10 frs. Dinner with 19th; Pusch, Segnitz (latter of Rosing Bros), Playford, Partridge, Clarke, Thorne, me; nice dinner with caviar & fizz. Wonder how many will be alive in a short while. --- very keen about decoration. Saturday's "Evening News" arrives Monday midday; quick work. Hear rumour that Russians are turning.
Tues. 7 Up 8 o/c; breakfast; parade. Messed about by --- over horse; very annoyed with him. Got bicycle; went to Maroc with Clarke; lots of guns. Had another look at position; more simple. Met Thwaites. Tea with Madame Herrsin; saw her husband. Had hair cut. Dinner with C.O. Could have told him lots about attack; contented myself with pushing a few points forward. Nice dinner. Exciting ride home; nearly broke my neck. Found Pusch on w.p., so collared his bed.
Wed. 8 Up 7.30. Pusch came in at 4 a.m. Parade 9 o/c; platoon in very good spirits. C.O. came over. Went through details of attack. Heard that B.M. thinks somewhat of my tactics. Coached section for competition. Lunch. More lectures with platoon. Tea. Game of bridge. Threw 35 ball grenades; terrific explosion. Think I am pretty nervy to go and pick them up. Didn't like it much. Dinner. Played more bridge. Wrote a few letters. Bed fairly early. Feel I ought to have bigger position here. Practically running the battalion attack.
Thurs. 9 Up 7.30; parade 9 o/c. Nice day. Met Battn; did rehearsal of attack. Long day; didn't learn much. Think it's too far for men to carry such a weight; arrive at their destination very tired. Had a row with Major --- through ---. Repeated attack. Finished about 4; back 5. Played bridge. Had dinner with 17th machine gun people. Very excited when I heard attack postponed & leave knocking about. Make a lot of enquiries. Think I'll be going. Very restless night. Wrote L. Hope it's true. Not satisfied with C.O.; think he won't do well by the Battn in attack.
Fri. 10 Paraded 9 o/c. Brigade competition. Note from Orderly Room telling me to go on leave. Also Sergt. Mossman, Partridge, Goodwin & Adams. Short notice; greatest excitement of my life. Went to Frequesnil. Train to Boulogne. Dinner there at buffet. Boat to England. What a glorious journey. Nice having Adams with. Pullman to Victoria. How breathless to stand in Victoria Street & see London again. Taxi to Caversham; knocked them up. They thought of Zeppelins. Stopped talking from 3 a.m. to breakfast. Went to City. Got some clothes. Saw Governor. Met L. midday. Back to tea. Went to Maxim's for dinner; then to Palladium; taxi home. Everything so glorious and fresh. The slightest thing interested me. Governor looked very fit. L. just the same pretty girl as ever. Hard to realise we were together again. Couldn't think of anything much; just seemed bewildered and drifted. Went to Blackheath & got more money. London very excited (I think stupidly) about Zeppelins. Damage not so very great, though they certainly got near some important places. Bed very tired Saturday night.
Sun. 12 Up fairly early. Went for our stroll in Regent's Park. I went in mufti; glorious to get out of khaki. Had a ginger beer & ice. Topping to see nicely dressed girls & lots of people again. Went to Goodmayes in the afternoon, first calling on Uncle Parke; very pleased to see me & gave me some cigars. Nice to see Betty & kiddies again. Bus home. London very dark. Felt it waste of time to go to sleep.
Mon. 13 L & I went to Uncle Henry's. Quaint to see ragged little children paying rent; real slum life. Had lunch at Petit Riche; nice place, very French. Looked at shops. Had tea at Waldorf Hotel; nice place; watched kiddies dancing; nearly cried at the prettiness of it; it was so sweet after the trenches, and the comparison with the slum children was wonderful. Home; lunch. Dinner at Maxim's. Gaiety in the evening; joy of joys; topping piece & I just revelled in it; simply glorious. Taxi home. Jawed till late, and bed.
Tues. 14 Called. How time simply flies away. Each minute is a revelation. Everything seems wonderful. Sidcup in the morning. Saw Partridge on London Bridge. They were pleased to see us. Grace very nice. Had lunch; thence Acton in the afternoon. Saw Uncle Peyton & Aunt. Saw Leamington again. Caversham to wash. Met W.D.; had dinner & slept at Club. He looked very well, and it was topping to see him again.
Wed. 15 Put flannels on. How fine; it seems beautiful. Went up rider, first calling on Woodgate for B.W. Glorious day. Went to Taplow & Maidenhead; had nice lunch. Wanted a river house badly; so sweet & pretty everywhere. Back; changed. Dinner at Maxim's. Rather quiet; think I was tired. Hippo; laughed at Tate. Still rather quiet, but I enjoyed every sound. Bed very sleepily.
Thurs. 16 Slacked around during morning. Went to Ilford in afternoon. They were pleased to see us. Uncle has met Thwaites; might do me some good. Back about 8; had quiet dinner at Petit Riche; enjoyed it immensely; taxi home. Shadow of going back creeping on. Living every moment, though.
Fri. 17 Last day. Horrible to think of going away. Went to City to say good-bye to Woodgate etc. Went to Hyams; ordered some clothes. Had lunch at Caversham. Felt beastly at leaving L. Her uncle turned up & bucked us some. All went to Club to say good-bye to Mr. H; would cast me round; very bored. Met Harry & Grace at Victoria. Everybody very weepy. Told no train; huge joy. Went & got seats at Empire. Had coffee at Corner House. Topping piece at Empire. Just glorious this extra day - like another life. Letter from Adams saying he's got extension - lucky beggar.
Sat. 18 Felt more resigned. Quiet morning. Reported at Victoria at 12. Train not till 5.40. Went back to Caversham. Cleaned garden up & sat with L. Mr & Mrs H., Grace & Willie & L. saw me off. Awful moment. Hope I see them soon. Quiet journey down. Glorious week. General feeling about war in London very depressing; they badly want victory. Got on boat --- bad one --- at 8.30; escorted over by destroyer. Moonlight night. Everybody very humpy.
Sun. 19 Left Boulogne at 2 a.m.; Frequesnil at 8 o/c. Horse to Houchin. Hooper pleased to see me. Platoon won cup; kept by Brigade. Felt very tired. Attended demonstration of smoke bombs in the afternoon. Played bridge in the evening. Pusch pleased to see me. Suppose I must be thankful for my week. Not much impressed with Rawlinson. Sure Smith-Dorrien is a better man.
Mon. 20 Up 8 o/c; parade 9. Rather nice to see boys again. Did a practice attack. Thorne went over details again. I wonder how it will end. Will I go under? Will nearly everybody? Had a ride round field. Lunch. Went over to Noeux-les-Mines. Got some money for my men. Had tea with A Company. They expect me to make them laugh. Didn't feel much like it; thoughts still in England. Strolled back; paid men. Had dinner; played bridge. Concannon of 18th nice chap. Everybody thinking & breathing of attack. Timed to take place on Saturday.
Tues. 21 Up 8 o/c; parade 9 o/c. Had long talk about London with my chaps. Lunch. Went over to Noeux in the afternoon. Started writing L. & had tea with A Company; glorious to hear Gaiety records on gramophone. Noeux very crowded. Conference C.O.s re attack. All details settled. Rather like the finished scheme; hope it pans out well. No letters or papers or boats. Dinner with A Company; enjoyed it rather. Walked to Houchin on nice moonlight night. Had a drink with Segnitz & finished writing L. Censored letters & so to bed. Read Rudyard Kipling in Nash's Magazine.
Wed. 22 Up 8 o/c; parade. More details with Thorne. Lunch. Half an hour's drill in the afternoon. Wrote L. Had a bath. Got letter from L. from Sidcup. Bombardment still going on. Had dinner with 19th; nice evening. Played bridge; won 15 frames. Weather keeps good. Wind wrong way for our job.
Thurs. 23 Took boys over to Noeux to store great-coats. Met Adams; had some fizz. Said good-bye to Segnitz & Dircks. Wrote letters. Slacked during afternoon. Went to Noeux for dinner with A Company. Went through attack with Williams. Heard gramophone again; so sweet; took me back to such happy moments. Thunderstorm. Home about 11; bed without pyjamas. Air very close. Wind wrong way.
On 25th September 1915 twenty-nine officers from the London Regiment were killed in action, the first day of the Battle of Loos. Apart from Robbie, others who have been mentioned in this diary who lost their lives that same day were Adams, Thomasset, Young and Segnitz. Hooper died three days later. Pusch, who transferred to the Irish Guards, was killed in June 1916.
Robbie's brother Bert was killed in action at
the Battle of Amiens on 14th August 1918, aged 23 yrs.
His brother Will was injured during the war and although he lived to be 96 in Australia he bore the mental scars of the war all his life.
1 18th County = 18th County of London Battalion
2 1/3 and similar = One shilling and threepence
3 L.R.B. = 5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade) County of London Regiment (Territorial Force).
4 C.E. = Chief Engineer
5 21/22 = 21st and 22nd Battalions.
6 I.T. = Infantry Training (a manual).
7 W.O. = War Office
8 O.O. = Orderly Officer
9 F.S. Company = Field Service Company
10 Butts = The place where the targets on a rifle range are operated (in safety) by soldiers.
11 County Hall = County Hall, London was used as the static headquarters of the County of London Regiment.
12 A.S.C. = Army Service Corps
13 Q.M. = Quartermaster
14 P.O.Rifles = 1/8th City of London Battalion, (Post Office Rifles), the County of London Regiment.
15 w.p. = weapons practice.
16 B.W. = British Warm (overcoat)
17 K.'s Army = Kitchener's New Army
18 6th Battn. Camerons = 6th (Service) Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. (It was a battalion raised in the second of Kitchener's New Armies).
19 K.O.S.B. = Kings Own Scottish Borderers
20 Quality Street = nickname for a main communication trench
21 sap = a deep tunnel dug towards enemy lines and used as a listening post.
22 D.G.O. = Divisional Gas Officer
23 dug-outs = This reference to "dug-outs" is not to trenches but was a disparaging term for elderly retired officers who had been "dug-out" to do staff jobs behind the front line
Lest we forget.... pages of remembrance for the many members of our family who lost their lives during the two world wars.
Diary transcribed by Linda Butler and Patricia
Military details and explanations by Iain Kerr.
Photographs of Adams and Pusch by kind permission of Chris Jordan.