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!

Alf Smith letter 25 March 1917

March 25th 17


Dear Father


I hope you are quite well.

Have you received many letters from me I have written several.  I have only had one letter & a paper from you since I have been here, I should think some of them must have gone astray.

We are going to join the 10th Battalion probably to-morrow I shall be glad of a parcel then will let you know as soon as we get there.

I shall be pleased to have a letter from you, address it as usual 15th I.B.D. &c as it will be sent on if we have left here.

No more news at present. Glad to say I am A.1.

With much love from

Your devoted



Alf Smith letter 25 March 1917


Mar 25 1917

My Dear Nell,

Just a few lines to let you know I am quite alright & well. I have received your letter & parcel & must thank you for them.

We are now out of the trenches and in billets for training.  We have a pretty decent billet about half an hour’s walk from town.  It is quite a change to get away from trenches and to get into a town where we can enjoy ourselves a little.

Pleased to know you enjoyed your weekend at 20B.  You seemed to have been having a “Gay Time” rolling home at 12 P.M.  It is a wonder that the door was opened for you. Next sentence Blue Pencilled.

Have you received any of the letters that must have gone astray.  Have made a few enquiries but have not heard anything yet.

Well Dear you have all the news etc so must close.  Please remember me to your Mother & Father & to Bert when you write.  With Fondest Love & Kisses from

Your loving








Without Envelope

Fred Hammond letter 24 March 1917


Dear Pa & Ma

Just a line to let you know I am gogging along OK. I received your & Gladys letters safely.  Hope Gladys does well in her exam.  Time flies so fast that I suppose she got past the fresher stage by now.  Have you found out any secret chemical to finish the Bosche off?  I suppose you have read all about the great push lately don’t expect we shall give them much rest once the weather becomes settled.  This last week has been a mixture of winter & summer snow & sunshine alternately.  Yes I was rather surprised at my brothers.  I wonder whether there’s some fever in the family and whether I am at all likely to catch it.  Altho I think I am safer out here after all.  So Geo is with his old lot again do you mean at home?  Never had a word from him for some time.  Glad to hear Par has selected such a suitable sight I can see you are offering me every inducement.  Yes I think I shall take up a little agriculture after the war and bet there’s not much profit when I’ve finished.  Well I am quite well and hope you are all the same.  Expecting to be home by August or at least La Guerre finis.  Well so long for present.




Green envelope FPO D 3 24 Mr 17 to E. Hammond, 9 Countess St. Stockport.

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 22 March 1917

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 22 March 1917


Extracted from


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




March 22, 1917.

It snowed hard yesterday and froze last night. What do you think of the news?  The  Boche are retreating not far away.  We are anticipating a move forward in a few days.  We have had another move.  We never seem to be in one place more than a few days.  There has been great excitement.  Two houses on either side of us have been burnt down.  It is our turn next.  The Colonel is in a very bad temper because he is not in the advance.  But I expect we shall have our fill of such things soon.  Leave is as far off as ever.  It is over five months since I had any.


I have also managed to get an excellent groom. He was a whip before the war.

I have had a photo taken of my horse.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter 22 March 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter 22 March 1917.




Wednesday March 22nd 1917


My own darling,


It was very sweet of you not to be angry with me for that silly letter I wrote you. I awaited your answer very anxiously.  Thank you so much for your letters and the lovely box of chocolates which arrived safely.  You are a darling to be so thoughtful.  You are quire right you are spoiling me dreadfully.  Do you know what the Doctor said the other day when a parcel from you arrived – ‘Someone seems to love you’ – and that from a man who has just been married!


I am very glad to hear that Mrs. Cross is better. You say nothing about yourself so I hope you are alright, and enjoying yourself.  The weather is not at all spring like yet.  It snowed hard yesterday and froze last night.  What do you think of the news?  We are not on the move but the Boche are retreating not far away.  We are very busy and anticipating a move forward in a few days.  We have had another move.  We never seem to be in one place more than a few days.  We are getting quite accustomed to it now.


There has been great excitement lately; two houses on either side of us have been burnt down. It is our turn next.


The Colonel is in a very bad temper because he is not in the advance, but I expect we shall have our fill of such things soon.


You say you wish you could write sense. You do, or if it is not sense it is ‘divine nonsense’ and I can quite understand your meaning.


Leave seems to be as far off as ever. It is making me very bad tempered I am afraid.  It is over 5 months since I saw you last and it seems ages and ages ago.


Have you been reading any interesting books lately? I read one of O Henry’s the other day but have not finished it yet.  The ‘Times’ is about all I read now.


The post has not come yet. I wonder whether I shall hear from you this afternoon.  I hope so as I am feeling ‘humpy’ and I want to hear from you again.  I am very greedy I know.


I read somewhere in Locke – ‘There are no persons harder to read and easier to misunderstand than those of whom we are fondest.’ Do you think that is true?  Perhaps that is why I made such a silly mistake the other day.


You would like my horse. I must have a photo taken especially for you.  I have also managed to get an excellent groom.  He was a ‘whip’ before the war.


No! I am not jealous. It would be insulting to be jealous.  So please go on telling me all your news.  It is rather greediness in wanting to keep you all to myself.  You must try and cure me of all these bad faults.


So you are going away in May. I must get home before then to see you.  Don’t make your hands rough and hard or get burnt.  I hope you will like your work.  Take care of Maude and make her behave well.  Do you have to live in tents and sleep in blankets and wash up the crockery?  I can imagine it!  I hope you will have fine weather.  You must be careful of your rheumatism.  Please pardon my teasing.  I only wish I were at home to tease in person.  You used to be very annoyed with me, didn’t you?  Very justly too.  I was very rude in those days – but my being so in that way shewed that I did not want to offend you.  You will know how to treat me in the future.

I must close now as there are heaps of things for me to do.


With all my love, darling, and kisses.


Ever yours


Alf Smith letter 21 March 1917

No 27521

Pte. A.A. Smith

1st Essex Regt.

15th I.B.D.

A.P.O. (S24)

B.E.F. France


March 21st 17


Dear Father


Just a few lines to let you know I am quite well.

There is not very much news to tell you but thought you would just like to have a few lines from me.

It is not a bad idea to put your address on the back of the envelope when you write as it will be returned without being opened if it does not reach me.

What do you think of the news lately?  It looks very good I think we shall soon have to be singing when Tommy comes marching home &c don’t you.

I shall be very glad to hear from you when you have time to write a few lines.

Hoping you are all in the best of health.

With much love

From your




Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 20 March 1917

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 20 March 1917


Telephone No VICTORIA 6154


Association for Befriending Boys

President – The Rt Hon the Rt. Rev The Lord Bishop of London

Rev. J. Scott Lidgett, D.D. Chairman

Sir William Chance, Bt., Hon Treasurer

Henry F. New, Secretary.


Denison House (Rooms 38 and 39)

296 Vauxhall Bridge Road S.W. I

London March 20th 1917

Please Quote St. P 40


Rev & Dear Sir,


May I venture to commend to your kind notice, a boy named Robert Wynne, who will be sixteen this year. He left the School in 1916 with a very good character, and is now working with Mr. F. Lane, 10 ,High Street, N. Finchley.  It would be a great advantage to the boy if he could get to know you.


I am,

Rev. & Dear Sir,

Yours very faithfully,

H.F. New

Secretary M.M.


The Rev. W La Porte Payne,

Christchurch Vicarage,

  1. Finchley.