Welcome to The Bay Museum Website

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!

H.E. WITTY 20 Oct 1916



  1. Section


20th October 1916.  Friday.  Frightfully cold this morning when I went on duty at 3 a.m. Ugh!!!  Stayed in bed until 11 a.m. had a stroll to O.P.F.  Heavy German counterattacks fail.  Glorious clear day.  Enemy aircraft active – two brought down in view of Fricourt.  Letters Mother and G.  ANS. tonight when on duty.

WAR DIARY Of AA Laporte Payne 20 Oct 1916

WAR DIARY Of AA Laporte Payne




Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda




OCTOBER 20, 1916.

Preparations for and the carrying out of a raid has occupied all my time. I have spent the last three days in the trenches, and got thoroughly soaked for my trouble.


The rot published in the newspapers about Robinson, V. C. with photographs of the hero playing tennis with his landlady, causes us great amusement.


Our flat here is at present extremely cold. We cannot have a fire during the day as we are in full view of the Boche lines, and if smoke were seen we should inhabit the place no longer.  One fellow is dancing round the room trying to get warm, to selections from “Shell Out” on the gramophone.  Another wretched creature is up in the O.P.  I try to hold a pen.


The rush of the last few days is over, and I am looking forward to a dinner tonight with the O.C. of another battery in a town close behind the lines.


Last Sunday we actually had a Church Parade for the battery. I think for the first time since we came out here.  Service was held in an empty white-washed factory shed at 7 p.m.  The place was lit with oil lamps, but not very well, and furniture consisted of chairs, a table with a gaudy cloth, two large vases filled with flowers, two candles, and a large ebony and white crucifix, all looted from houses in the vicinity of our gun-line.  Most ritualistic.  These arrangements were made by the men themselves under the direction of the senior sergeant.  The men, mostly north country men sang very well.


The padre who came is a fine fellow attached to the infantry. he lives in the trenches.  He is an Ulsterman, and a real good sort.  Our own chaplain we only see when we are out of the line, and as that is hardly ever, we rarely see him, which is just as well.  This one distinguished himself the other night bringing in some wounded in the face of the Boche machine guns.  but then he is an Ulsterman.


I am getting up a concert for the men the night after next. We have discovered a piano of sorts, also a few artistes, also of sorts.


H.E. WITTY 19 Oct 1916



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19th October 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone in the morning.  Wire from 4th Army that we had to move to HAVRE.  Modified to the extent that only artificers and guard were to accompany guns.  Much tribulation.  exceedingly cold wet miserable day.  Shippen at O.P.  Moved into another dug-out.  NO MAIL.

WAR DIARY Of AA Laporte Payne 19 Oct 1916

WAR DIARY Of AA Laporte Payne



Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda





Proposed Raid on German Trenches opposite to


on night of

20/21st October 1916.


INTENTION. Six minutes after zero hour two parties will enter German Trenches, one at Junction of ditch with front line at I.5.c.65.13., the other at Junction of track with front line at I.5.c.85.27.  Both parties will put a stop on their left at point of entry and work along front line to their right for a distance of about 40 yards.

At zero hour these two parties will be in No-Man’s-Land about 100 yards from the German front line.



(The following batteries of Right Group to take part:-

D/175, Howitzers.

A/152, 18 pdr.

A & B/175, 18 pdr.

Y/34 T.M.B.)


PHASE 1.       Preliminary Bombardment.

Time Zero to Zero x 5 min.

A/175. 2 guns.  Bombard front line from I.5.c.85.27. to I.5.c.65.13.

4 guns. bombard support line from I.5.d.15.30. to I.5.d.07.00.

One 6” Howitzer will be firing on Sparrows Nest I.5.d. ½ .1. throughout.

Two Howitzers Left Group on points, trench junctions.


Rates of fire.

4.5 Hows 3 rounds pre gun per minute.

18-pdrs     4                 do

Y/34th T.M.B.     GUNFIRE.


PHASE 2.  Whilst Infantry are in German Trenches.

TIME Zero x 5 till signal that raiding parties have returned.




4 guns on Support Line I.5.d.15.30. to 07.00.

1 gun on C.T. I.5.c.92.35. to I.5.d.12.15.

1 gun on C.T. C.T. I.1.a.8.9. to 97.82.


Rates of fire

Zero x 5 to Zero x20

18 pdrs 3 rounds per gun per minute.

T.Ms     1                    do

4.5 Hows 2                  do


PHASE 3. 15 minutes after Infantry have returned, indicated by signal.

  1. rounds gun fire on targets as in phase 1.Arrangements for synchronising watches and Liaison, and time of Zero Hour will be notified later. Captain, R.F.A.,Franks’ Force.19th October, 1916.20/21, Oct. 1916.
  2. In continuation of this office No. OO/23 of today’s date.
  4. Commanding Right Group, R.A.
  5. R.W. ARDAGH,
  6. Acknowledge on attached slip.
  1. Zero Hour will be 10.30, p.m. tomorrow the 20th instant.
  2. The 34th Division is making a raid and the 2nd N.Z. Infantry Brigade a dummy raid at the same hour.
  3. 2nd Lieut. G. FERNIE, A/152, R.F.A. is detailed as Liaison Officer (in addition to the usual Liaison Officers at Battalion Headquarters). He will report to this office at 8.30, a.m. tomorrow for instructions.
  4. Whilst operations are in progress he will be at the Company Headquarters about I.5.c.2.6., and will be in telephonic communication with this office.
  5. As each raiding party returns to our trenches the O.C. Raid will fire one golden rain rocket from I.5.c.15.65. Batteries will stop firing on seeing the second of these two rockets.
  6. Messages. Directly both parties have returned 2nd Lieut Fernie will send the following code message to Group HeadquartersThis will be at once repeated to Batteries and they will at once stop firing
  7. unless they have already done so.
  9. 18-pdrs will fire H.E. only.
  10. O.Cs Batteries and Liaison Officer will forward detailed reports to this office as soon as possible after the raid.R.W. ARDAGH.Commanding Right Group19th October 1916.O.Cs Batteries will send watches to these Headquarters at 5, p.m. to be synchronised. These watches should be reliable timekeepers with second hands and should be collected again at 9, p.m.20/21, OCT. 1916.A/175No. 1 gun 1o L            2900.No. 3         35’ R         3075.Front Line.No. 6         2.15’ R      2825.TIME 10.30, p.m. to 10.35, p.m. No. 5       40’ R           2950. Search 50 yards.Rates.Z x 20 to stop   2rds               do H.E.From Stop plus 15 minutes.  From O.C. A/174, R.F.A. The last consignment consisted entirely of shrapnel.A.A. LAPORTE PAYNE.for O.C. 175/A. R.F.A. O.C. A/175. R.F.A. SECRETR.W. ARDAGH..Commanding Right Group, R.F.A.
  11. (see aeroplane map taken 2/8/16.)
  12. 19th October 1916.
  13. Captain, R.F.A.
  14. Reference Artillery Orders for Raid tomorrow night, all points should be carefully registered, but at the same time care must be taken not to disclose where the raid is about to take place. Each battery should therefore register a few additional points on other parts of the front between the Mushroom Salient and the left of the 102nd Infantry Brigade.
  15. S/125
  16. October, 19 1916.
  17. Lieut., R.F.A.
  18. With reference to your OO/23 and requirements in ammunition there under, I estimate that we shall require at least 700 rounds of H.E.   We have only 412 rounds on hand and it appears impossible to obtain any further supply.
  19. To Adjutant, 175th Brigade, R.F.A.
  20. 20/21 Oct 1916.
  21. (Estimate over 600 rounds of H.E. required)
  22. 2 rounds gun fire as in Phase 1. = 12 rds.
  23. PHASE 3.
  24. Z x 5 to Z x 20 3rds per gun per min. =270 rds.
  25. No. 6      4o  R            3000.               do
  26. PHASE 2.                Support Line and Communication Trenches.
  27. Rate 4rounds per gun per minute   H.E. =120 rounds.
  28. No. 5         3.30’ R      2800.
  29. No. 4         30’ L         2925.
  30. No. 2       1o 45’ L.     2900.
  31.                PHASE 1.                                                                Support Line
  32. OO/23.
  33. Franks’ Force.
  34. Captain R.F.A.

H.E. WITTY 18 Oct 1916



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18th October 1916.   Wednesday.  On telephone otherwise very little doing.  Wet day and cold.  Had a tour of the various canteens.  ANZAC’s jolly good.  NO MAIL.  Winter holder downwards reverted as formation to be made in Group.

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 18 October 1916

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 18 October 1916



Royal Naval Barracks

Government crested notepaper


Leslie Boyce No 2686

N 15 Mess E Block,

Royal Naval b.




Dear Sir,


I would have written to you before but I have not had any stamps.


I arrived here after a long journey of 7 hours. Last Friday I went to see the Chaplain and I believe he is going to write to you.  Last Sunday I went to Holy Communion after the preparation on the Saturday night.


I am just settling down more and am beginning to like it very much.   I have started my 12 weeks coarse{sic} of seamanship and it is very interesting I wrote to Mr. Mannering & Mrs. Dawson and am expecting a reply.


The little Bible that you gave me I have found a great help & I read it every night now without fail. Every morning we have the morning prayer out of the Prayer Book with all the boys & Officers drawn up.  We all have the battle hymn “Holy Father in Thy Mercy” & it reminds me of Christ Church.  Hoping you will reply

From Yours Truly

Leslie Boyce


Kind regards to all the family.

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 18 October 1916

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 18 October 1916


On A.S.C. crested notepaper.

Pte J. Plumb

K Supply Coy

A.S.C. 216949

No 2 Camp





Dear Sir,


Thank you for your kind letter, you will be interested to know, I am on draft for France & may have to go any minute or it may be weeks, I hope to see Finchley first, & should be glad if you would pray that I might.  I am getting on as well as can be expected I think.  As my stay is so uncertain here & the room so limited I had rather not have any parcel sent me, there is 10 of us in a bell tent about 16 feet across the floor, there are swarms of soldiers here.  Please remember me to all at the Vicarage & those who are interested in me, I have got my full equipment for France.  I remain yours gratefully & sincerely J. Plumb.