The Bay Museum is a friendly museum situated on Canvey Island. Based in a degaussing station, it now offers a wealth of artefacts, books and displays focussing on Military history. Open from 10am till 4pm, the museum also organises trips to France and Belgium to experience the battlefields first hand. The museum is run by volunteers who always warmly welcome visitors and are never short of a war story!
Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 24 April 1917
West End Hotel
Dear Mr. Payne,
My wife & I came out to India that we might pass a few weeks with my son & his wife at Jhelum.
Unfortunately for our arrangements after we had been at Jhelum seven weeks, Major Burton’s regiment was sent to Loralai in Baluchistan, 52 miles from a railway station & a “restricted area”, so we could not join him there. We proposed to return home at once but the authorities will not grant a passport to Mrs. Burton, consequently we are prisoners here for an indefinite time. Not expecting to be away so long a period I did not bring addresses & books for reference. I think I am in debt for pew rent & cannot remember where to send it. I enclose cheque for 30s/- which I think will cover till September next. Would you kindly pass it on to the proper authority. The climate at Bangalore in nearly perfect, rather hot in the daytime during this month & up to the middle of May, when it will be cooler again. – We are in a very comfortable hotel & cannot complain but should very much like to be able to return home in spite of a worse climate.
With kind regards to you & family in which Mrs Burton joins.
Chas R. Burton.
April 23rd 17
Just received your parcel & I thank you very much; you could not have sent a better assortment. The biscuits are very nice, also cigarettes & you can bet I shall have some cake after tea to-day.
Think of me having a chatty parade now the little devils have been keeping me busy but their doom is sealed now it will be a case of hands up I take no prisoners. I will let you know when I want some more.
We had another short march on Saturday sleeping in huts now the weather is much warmer so taking it all round I am quite cooshie. (cushy)
How do you get on for provisions &c do you have much trouble to buy them. I suppose you deduct your 2 oz of bread &c daily.
I had a letter from Affie yesterday, she said the trams were lit up as usual again. Are they the same in London it must look very strange quite dazzling I should think.
Have you seen the Darvills lately I hope they are well also Mr. & Mrs. Warman & Lilian.
Well I must finish now. Glad you are all in the best of health pleased to say I am feeling A.1.
With much love from
WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 22 April 1917
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
R.P. April 22, 1917.
I arrived here quite safely last night in time for dinner at 8 p.m. I have had really a delightful few days at home with you all, and it was not at all pleasant having to return after such an enjoyable time. It was the longest leave I have had for years, and it was good, giving me fresh energy to carry on for another few months.
I managed to get a bed at the Grosvenor Hotel and had breakfast at 6 a.m. then I got a comfortable seat in the train, a corner one, and quite forgot my usual precautions with the result I was caught by the Railway Transport Officer, horrid man, and put in charge of 200 men returning to France. I had to give up my corner seat, and travel by Pulman in the second train with another officer, similarly caught, to Folkestone. We managed to arrive there just in time to see the leave boat going out to sea. Luckily the Rest Camp is not far away, and there I deposited my men, poor devils, until 5.30. p.m. this is how a grateful country treats its heroes. I had lunch with Offer, whom I knew at Cambridge, visited General Marsh and family, and had tea with Mrs. Sherbrook who was entertaining some wounded men.
We left at 6 p.m. It was a calm and uneventful crossing. We arrived at Boulogne at 8.30 p.m., and I stayed the night at the Metropole, after I had handed the men over to someone else on the quayside.
The next morning I came up by train, lunching at Calais, where we had two hours. I rode the last ten miles, and arrived just in time for dinner. The Colonel said he was glad to see me back, again and certainly he is in good form. It is probably the prospect of some exciting work soon.
We are still in the same place, but go out “to rest” in a day or two – the first time for over a year, and it probably means the same thing as it did then.
The weather is now beautifully fine, and my horses are looking fit and well, so what more can a fellow want.
Secret COPY NO.
9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 64
Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg
INFORMATION 1. The 5th Division on the left of the 3rd Canadian Division will carry out an attack on the German line from T.2.c. to SOUCHEZ RIVER.
FIRST OBJECTIVE. Enemy’s trench from T.2.c.9.2. thence along the support line of THELUS-VIMY line to FOSSE 7 (T.1.b.1.5.)
SECOND OBJECTIVE. A line from houses in T.2.d.0.5. approximately parallel to the First Objective to Trench Junction in T.1.b.5.4. thence northerly along trench to houses in T.1.b.5.9., thence to road and embankment junction in N.31.c.9.8., thence to the SOUCHEZ RIVER, including Electric Generating Station.
The 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade will co-operate by advancing its left flank from T.5.a.5.3. to protect the right of the 5th Division at about T.2.d.0.5.
TASKS 2. In view of the above operation the following tasks will be carried out by the 4.5 Howitzer batteries of the GROUP.
- 36th Battery and 43rd Battery.
9.30 p.m. to 9.40 p.m. on the 22nd instant. AVION in N.32.c. – rate of fire normal. The 36th Battery will take the North one third of Square and the 43rd Bty the South two thirds.
(b) The 36th Battery and 43rd Battery will each fire 75 rounds into Group of houses T.2.b.2.0 before 2.00 p.m. on the 22nd instant.
(c) During assault the 36th and 43rd Batteries will engage houses on main LENS-ARRAS ROAD in T.2.b. and d. within safety limits of the assaulting infantry and will also engage the MERICOURT-AVION SWITCH and houses of AVION in N.33.c.
Details will be issued later.
- The batteries not engaged in the operation will carry out a feint attack which will take the form of a creeping barrage of all available 18-pdrs firing at normal rate. Further details of this barrage will be issued later.
NOTE: The artillery of 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions will carry out a similar feint attack of their respective fronts.
- All the batteries may be called upon to fire on enemy trenches in T.2.b. and d. and T.3.c.
- Ammunition dump at gun positions to be increased to at least 400 rounds per gun and how. by night of 22nd/23rd
- Zero hour will probably be about dawn on the 23rd
- Watches will be synchronized with Group Headquarters.
Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP
Issued at p.m.
Copy 2 to 32nd Battery, 4 to O.C. 39th Battery
3 to 33rd Battery, 5 to O.C. 45th Battery
6 to 36th Battery, 7 to O.C. 43rd Battery
8, 9, 10 WAR DIARY
WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 21 April 1917
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
April 21, 1917.
Leave all over, and now only a dream. Nine days! I got engaged. I arrived this evening after two long days on the way. Everything is as usual here. We are still in the same place. The horses are looking fit, but the Boche have dropped shells too near the stables.
It seems an age since I left on Thursday evening. I stayed the night at the Grosvenor Hotel, and was up at 6 a.m. After breakfast I wandered into the station early hoping to get a corner seat, and quite forgot my usual precautions. I had hardly got into the station when a creature wearing a major’s crown and a brass hat accosted me, and said rudely “Leave or duty?” Like a fool I stammered “Leave”. Whereupon he continued “I want you”, and gave me a paper. I knew what that meant. It informed me I was in charge of two to three hundred men for the journey across. I was furious. My party was detailed to go by the second train leaving about three quarters of an hour after the first by which I should have travelled. Another officer and I travelled alone in a Pulman cursing our fate. I had visions of marching miles to a rest camp outside Boulogne. At Folkestone we arrived just in time to see the leave boat going out with the first train load, and that meant a day in Folkestone. I marched the men to the Rest Camp, which was a tin enclosure surrounding a large number of houses on the Lees. Happily it was close to the pier. There I left the wretched men, retained there like prisoners. So does our staff treat its heroic soldiery! I went into the town and called on a parson man who was at Cambridge when I was. (Offer). I had lunch with him. I then called on General Marsh and family, whom I had not seen for a long time. I found one daughter just married to a soldier, another ill, and one a war widow. After that I went to tea with Mrs. Sherbrook, a dear old lady, the mother several officers, one of them a colonel of 29 years. She was entertaining some wounded to tea. One young fellow was wounded near us on the Somme, and had lost a leg, and was only just recovering from blindness, the result of shock.
I returned for my men at 5.15 p.m. The boat left about 6.30 p.m. We had dinner on board, and I read “The Morals of Marcus Odeyne” by Locke. At 8.45 p.m. we arrived at Boulogne, and I stayed at the Metropole Hotel with another fellow I knew. Luckily I was able to hand over the men to some simpleton on the pier at Boulogne, so I did not have to march miles, and was free. We started next morning at 9.45, a.m. and travelled via Calais, where we had two hours for lunch, St. Omer, Hazebrouck to within ten miles of my destination, and then rode up to Headquarters, arriving here at 8 p.m. this evening just in time for dinner. The Colonel professed himself pleased to see me back. He is in fairly good form, except for a cold.
Yesterday was a glorious day. I thought it would be fine as soon as I came away, but I don’t mind because I could not possibly have had a better time. And now for another half year out here. I wonder what it will bring forth.
A.A. Laporte Payne letter 21 April 1917
April 21st 1917
My own darling,
Now that it is all over it seems like a delicious dream that could not possibly be true, but if it were so I should be very miserable indeed.
It is perfectly horrid to be back here again – it is bad enough in the ordinary course of events but it is infinitely worse now. I miss you very much darling and the times when I could carry you off to town or elsewhere and be alone with you.
How are you keeping? I do hope your cold has not got worse and that you are rested after a very exciting nine days. Have the blue lines under your eyes gone?
I want to thank you ever so much, dear, for being so kind during my leave, giving me so much of your time and all else I wanted. You have quite spoilt me you know and the Gods have been very kind too haven’t they?
Probably you thought I was very quiet and moody at times. You must forgive me. It was so unexpected getting your peoples assent that it quite took my breath away and then latterly I had the thought of leaving you always in my mind which is very silly when one is enjoying oneself at the time as I did then.
However I have you to live for now and the time when I can see you next. What more can a man want than to make you happy if it is within his power.
I am simply longing for your first letter, and considering what you will say – your first letter after our engagement. I found your letter awaiting me here. It was a delightful one. Thank you so much for it. The cake arrived safely but was used by the mess as is the rule – so alas! I came in for none of it – but I got what was not to be compared with it didn’t I?
I arrived safely this evening after two long days on the way. Everything is as usual here. We are still in the old place. The horses are looking very nice but the Boche has dropped some shells very near the stables – the brutes.
The Colonel professed himself pleased to see me back. He is in fairly good form except for a cold. It was not at all to my liking to have you on Thursday evening. I was really miserable for once. When I left you I went for my bag and coat and took the tram to Golders Green & then tube to Victoria. I stayed the night at the Grosvenor Hotel and was up at 6 a.m. After breakfast I went to the station early thinking to get a nice corner seat – forgetting all my usual precautions – I must be badly in love – I had hardly got into the station when a major in a brass hat stopped me and said “Leave or Duty” and like a fool I said “Leave” – so he said “I want you” & gave me a paper. I knew what that meant. The paper informed me I was in charge of 200 – 300 men for the journey across. You can imagine my annoyance. My party was detailed to go by the second train leaving about ¾ hour after the first. I travelled in a Pulman alone (!) with another officer cursing my fate for I had visions of marching to a rest camp outside Boulogne. At Folkestone we arrived just in time to see the leave boat going out with the first train load, & that meant a day in Folkestone. I marched the men to the Rest Camp, which was a tin enclosure, happily close to the pier and left them there until 5.15 p.m. I went & called on a friend – a parson – Offer by name and had lunch with him. Then called on General Marsh & family, whom I had not seen for a long time. I found one daughter just married, another ill and one a widow quite recently. Leaving them I went to tea with Mrs. Sherbrook, a dear old lady – the mother of several officers – one of them a colonel of 29 years. She was entertaining some wounded to tea. One young fellow was wounded near us on the Somme, and had lost a leg & was only just recovering from blindness, the result of shock.
The boat left about 6.30 p.m. We had dinner on board, and I read “The Morals of Marcus Odeyne” by Locke. At 8.45 p.m. we arrived at Boulogne and I stayed at the Metropole Hotel with another fellow I knew. Luckily I was able to hand over the men on the pier at Boulogne so I was free. We started next morning at 9.45, a.m. and travelled via Calais, where we had 2 hours for lunch, St. Omer, Hazebrouck etc to within 10 miles of my destination and then rode up to Headquarters arriving here at 8 p.m. this evening just in time for dinner.
Yesterday was a glorious day. I thought it would be fine as soon as I came away – but I don’t mind because I could not possibly have had a better time.
How did the Canteen go off? I hope you were not very weary. Let me know all about your concert. I suppose Mr. Cross leaves on Monday for a short holiday. I hope his cold is better. What a lot I have to thank him for this leave.
This letter can’t go until tomorrow so I don’t know when you will get it. I am sorry it is so long before you will hear, but I was unable to get a censor stamp on the way up and so could not send anything but a Field Post Card which I did not wish to send.
I must close now as I want to get a bit straight before I go to bed. I am rather tired as you can imagine.
You are thinking of me sometimes, I know, dearest and that cheers me up a lot. I shall always remember you as I last saw you, looking down the steps as I said goodbye with the light in the hall shining behind you.
Please give my love to Mrs. Cross – kindest regards to Mrs. Lowe – I hope the lady is well – (I forgot for the moment that she is leaving on Monday)
With all my love to you darling & many kisses & thank you very much for making my leave so happy.
Ever your own
Pte. A.A. Smith
10th Essex Regt.
No 10 Platoon
April 20th 17
Many thanks for the two Pictorials; sorry I have not written before, but time goes so quickly; we left our old camp yesterday gone to live *** up & I missed the post to-day so that makes two days delay.
Glad to say the weather is much better now, I hope it will keep so. The band is playing at present it makes one think that the war is over but I don’t think it is far off now.
Have just received a letter from Ciss you have to pay a tidy price for beer now you ought to come over here 1 d a glass but you would not get drunk on it; am glad you spent Easter with them it made a nice change.
In one of my previous letters I asked you to send on Albert Taylor’s address if you knew it perhaps you did not receive it have you heard from of him lately.
Cannot think of any more news so must finish now.
Hoping you are all in the best of health pleased to say I am tres bien.
With much love from
P.S. Don’t forget the Harrisons Pomade when you send another parcel.