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 focusing on both local and world military history. Open from 10am till 4pm, the museum also organises trips to France and Belgium to experience the battlefields first hand, as well as helping you research your own family military histories. The museum is run by volunteers who always warmly welcome visitors and are never short of a war story!

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Private Diary J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen 22 September 1918

Private Diary Blankenburg Mark

J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen


Sunday Sept 22nd.  Fine sunny day.  2 letters from DD dated 28 Aug & 1st Sept.  Slept badly last night & had indigestion after breakfast.  H & N won Doubles.  Played singles with McLean 12-1 gave him ½ 15 & beat him 2 sets to 1.  Played in our private Doubles Sweepstake 3-4 with Kellog v Hibbard & Pug.  Score 10 all.  We ought to have scored more.  Wrote letters after tea.  Nazare is producing some excellent caricatures.  More rain at 9 p.m.

Alf Smith’s letter home received 22 September 1918

With cover addressed to Mr. T. Smith, 100, Arcadian Gardens, Wood Green, London North.  Postmark unreadable.  German censor stamp obliterated by “Opened by Censor P.W. 918. London postmark Sep 21. 18.


Englischen Kriegsgefangenen

Private Alfred A. Smith

53rd Machine Gun Coy:

Nummer 27521

Stammlager Friedrichsfeld



July 22nd 18


My Dear Father,

I am very pleased to have the opportunity of writing you a few lines, but I expect if you compare my letters you will find it is the same each time as we are still anxiously waiting for letters from home; you can guess what a grand day it will be when the mail does arrive as it is over four months now since we were taken prisoners but we are still in the land of the living & doing our best to be cheerful.

Well Dad I will start off by making the usual enquiries about the dear old home-land we are always thinking about it & singing ‘take me back to dear old Blighty’ &c which I hope will very soon become true.  How is Wood Green looking?  I expect very nice the country is very beautiful here & would be enjoyable if we had our freedom but no doubt this is a blessing in disguise as there must have been plenty of hard fighting since March, but I would give something to be back with the boys again in some of our good old camps.  I have one pal here who lives in Imperial Rd.

There are two men just joined us who have been prisoners about nine months you ought to see the grand parcels they are receiving through the Red Cross it makes one envious when you see them opening tins of food but of course they had to go through the same as we are at first or even worse as it was the winter when they were captured; but I think we are nearing the turning point now as we have heard there are parcels &c arriving for us at the main camp, but they are not sent on until there is a large consignment of them so I hope to have some good news to tell you before writing again in another fortnight.

Now a few enquiries about yourselves.  I hope you are all merry & bright & quite comfortable in Arcadian Gdns.  I hope Albert, Affie, & Joyce are in the best of health also Ciss, Charlie, & Peter give them all my love when you write or see them.  Have you heard from Albert Taylor lately?  I hope he is safe & well.

I have come to a full stop now cannot think of anything else to tell you.  We had a bit of a sing song between ourselves the other night it helped to pass the time away as it is rather a job to know what to do during the evening not having anything to read.

There is plenty I could tell you if I was home but I must leave that until after the war so here goes for a finish.  Glad to say I am quite well & I trust you are all in the best of health.

With much love to Jess, Ethel, Winnie & yourself let me know all the news when you write.  Take all the care you can & enjoy yourself as much as possible.  Au revoir.

Your devoted


Letter to father 22 September 1918


My dear daddy,


Many thanks for your letter dated 13th.  You seem in good form which is good news to me.  The old adage that no news is good news seems pretty true as applied to the female side of the family, for jaunts to London which you tell me about seem evidence that all is well.  I am glad you had a good time at Mr. Prestons.


The course is over & the students went away this morning. My own students invited me to dine with them last night & we had a very jolly evening together.  I had to make two speeches but got through all right.  I had to rise at the unusual hour of 4.30 a.m. this morning – Sunday morning too – I was detailed to march the officers to the station 3 miles away.  It was a beautiful morning – a full moon till long after daylight.  The dawn was wonderful & I have never seen such weird colouring.  The moon turned green – an extraordinary effect.


Arrived at the station we were treated to a wonderful exhibition of French shunting. There are 3tracks like this illustration The main portion of the train was on C (main) track & there were 5 trucks on A track which had to go on the rear of the train.  He took them one by one from A track & put them on to B & then repeated the process & got them eventually on to C.  A more rag-time affair I have never seen.  All this was done to the accompaniment of blowing whistles & excited shouting.  I saw the shunter propping open one set of points with a brick-end!


However things weren’t so bad really as we got the train off just short of half-an-hour late. They have got a journey of 25 miles to do, but they are due in at 6 p.m. tonight!


I hope you managed to find Win all right. She would be delighted to see you.  I had an amusing & interesting letter from her the other day.


There have just been two excitements in the farm yard. The pond is flooded, & an old hen in a desperate hurry to get to the other end of the yard tried a short cut by attempting to fly across.  She “crashed” half-way & went down like a stone in the middle of the pond.  Later a tame rabbit got loose & was immediately hunted by the dog.  An exciting chase round the yard ensued – the dog after the rabbit & an infuriated madame (who must at least weigh 20 st) after the dog.  Strange to say the dog didn’t win.  Hoping all is well


With very best love to all

Your loving son




In cover to A.W. Allen Esq. Duffield Nr Derby.  Postmarked Army Post Office S35 dated 23 Sp 18.  Passed by Censor No 34** signed G. W. Allen.


Private Diary J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen 21 September 1918

Private Diary Blankenburg Mark

J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen


Saturday Sept 21st.  Cold windy day.  Interview with Comdt – re – orderlies, Baths etc & medical stores.  Played 2nd Round tennis at 2 p.m., stopped by rain & finally finished at 3.30 p.m., beaten by Vick & Kellog.  Not a fit day for tennis, wind very strong & played in woollen waistcoat & sweater.

Got fortnights’ supply biscuits from Copenhagen.  Spoke to Kincaid Smith about ‘Ascot’.

Private Diary J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen 20 September 1918

Private Diary Blankenburg Mark

J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen


Friday Sept 20th.  Cold windy day.  Roll call in garden.  Approached Comdt about a ‘fives’ court.  Tennis Tournament commenced at 1 p.m.  Pug & I defeated Turner & Kent 6.2 – 6.2.  Case Medical Stores arrived for Camp.

Have made up an American Tennis Tournament, 5 pairs, No 2 & 7 Room, I am playing with Kellog. McLean & H started a ‘book’ on it, at 7-2 each pair & have got 300 mks in the ‘book’.  Prices before bed, self & K evens.  Hatfield & Shorman 2-1.  McLean & Vick 7-1.  ‘Ascot’ game appears to be very popular in Music Room every night.  Shall have to enquire into it & check it, if it becomes ‘too popular’!  Anniversary Pheasant Farm attack Ypres 1917.

Private Diary J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen 19 September 1918

Private Diary Blankenburg Mark

J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen


Thursday Sept 19. Cold dull morning.  Letter from Betty d/29 Aug.  Roll Call in future is to be held in the garden.  Played golf after lunch with Hatfield who did 27 – all 9 holes in 3’s.  I did 2 30’s.  Alterations to No 4 green are a great improvement.  Red Cross parcel No 129, Aug 15 arrived.  Another Tennis Tournament starts tomorrow.  Open doubles in 2 classes, those who have played before this year Class A, beginners Class B.  I am playing with Pughe Evans.

Report on short shooting 19 September 1918

19th of Sept 1918





The following was reported to me at 5th C.M.R. H.Q.:-


  1. 7.20 P.M. – 6” shells falling short in vicinity of Q.28.b.00.70.
  2. Reported to 9th Brigade C.F.A., 10th Brigade C.F.A. & 8th C.I.B. at once.
  3. 8.40 P.M. – 3 Gas shells reported from forward as having fallen in vicinity of Q.28.b.00.30.
  4. Reported to H.L.O. at 8th C.I.B., 9th Brigade C.F.A. and 10th Brigade C.F.A.
  5. 9.20 P.M. –T.M.s reported from forward to be falling short in vicinity of Posts around Q.28.b.10.80. Reported.
  6. 9.45 P.M. – Gas shells reported to be falling short in same vicinity as in (1).
  7. At 11 P.M. written report timed 10.45 P.M. from Capt. Curran O.C. ”D” Company to the effect that battery reported firing short on Outpost Line at Q.34.c.40.00 – appeared to be gas shell of 18-Pdr. Or 4.5” Hows., also 6” or 8” firing short on same location.9th Brigade C.F.A. notified by me.NOTE –           Subsequently it turned out that location given in report was a mistake. It should have been Q.28.c.40.00.The following reports were made to me on the subject:-Lieut. DOW 3rd C.D.T.M. ”Y” Bty.                        Lieut Dow, at my request, went up front to look into the matter and on his return at 5.30 A.M. reported the following:- At Q.28.c.55.25 he located the hole made by one of these shells which had been a “dud”. He dug a hole and came to the shell but did not succeed in getting it out. He thought it was a 6” (certainly bigger than a 4.5”). He feels sure that it was one of the shells he had heard coming over. (He found another hole exactly the same, about twenty feet away from this one) and the men in the post on the road close by, agreed with him that it was owing to noise of unsteady flight which both he and they had noticed. Lewis gun crew in post in position were in charge of Lieut Weldon of “D” Coy.                        This “dud” had hit the ground, bounced, and was lying where Lieut. Dow saw it with its base towards the front. He took a bearing from the shell to the groove it had made when it struck and found it to be 274 Deg. Magnetic.                        Lieut. Savage ”C” Coy 5th C.M.R. whom I saw at Battn. H.Q. at 8 A.M. 19th said:- About 7 P.M. 18th he was at Q.28.b.10.95. in front of his platoon H.Q. when a shell which made a big explosion, and he judged to be a 6” How fell at approx 22.d.20.40.                          When he saw shells he was standing at approx. Q.27.b.20.30. The shells were coming from his left rear. Sgd. Robertson Fleet, Lieut
  8. L.O. 5th C.M.R.
  9.                         When at about 9.15 P.M. it was reported by Lieut. Savage that T.M.s were firing short into his platoon area, he sent for the T.M. Officer (Stokes) who has a German T.M. firing from about Q.21,d.80.40. This officer said that it could not be his gun that was firing short but Lieut Gifford told him to stop, and after that there was no more trouble forward from T.M.s.
  10.                         LEIUT GIFFORD – “C” Coy O.C. said that at about 7 P.M. (18th) he saw from the rise behind our Outpost line our shells falling short in the vicinity of Q.22.d.30.00 to Q.22.d.20.40. Whole battery firing more right and 1 gun appeared wild and short. Big explosion – probably 6” How – Ran back and telephoned battn.
  11.                         At about 9.15 (he thinks) our own T.M. bombs began to fall all around in his area – about 15 rounds in all – most of them “duds”. Telephoned Battn. H.Q. and Lieut Gifford of”C” company and T.M.s ceased firing.
  12. 2 or 3 guns apparently of same time were firing battery fire about 1 minute in vicinity of Q.28.d.50.30. In all 3 or 4 shells, all apparently from same How fell in the vicinity mentioned, the nearest about 25 Deg. North of Post at 22.d.30.00. seemed to come from rear and slightly left. He ran back and telephoned Battn. H.Q. Guns stopped at that time. Lieut. Savage thinks shells were coming from about Due West. At about 7.30 P.M. when in his post at 22.d.30.00 this officer observed 3 gas shells (our own) drop short at approx. Q.28. Central. He could not tell what calibre they were. The nearest Post to this is one at Q.28.c.70.65 Lieut. Savage telephoned Battn. H.Q. about this and no more fell than he saw.
  13.                         (With regard to the 6” shells, Lieut Dow feels sure that they came from the direction of due West).
  14.                         Lieut Dow investigated also the “dud” shell mentioned in report of Capt. Curran. It was an 8” but had evidently not come in that night. He said that the man at the post informed him that it had come in the night before (Lieut Short of ”A” Coy, was in charge of that post on the night of 17/18th.
  15.                         He visited Battn. H.Q. at 4 A.M., 19th and said that about 8.45 P.M. (18th) he was on road in Q.27.d. at approx 1005 when three successive shells passed over his head and fell in vicinity of Q.28.c.40.05. Very small burst. The How. which was firing appeared to be located to his left rear as shell was passing overhead on his left as he walked towards where it was falling.
  16. 3 shells dropped short during night, also several during evening. One “Dud” reported by Runner as about an 8”.