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!
A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 26 April 1917.
April 26th 1917
My own Dearest,
Thank you so very much for your two letters and the enclosed photos and letters which I am returning to you. I hope you have received my letter by now.
The photos were very good but I am very sorry that the others did not come out. I should have liked to have one of you and me together – you must tell Mrs Lowe (or may I call her ‘Tom’?) that she can’t take photos – please thank her for the photo of the baby – it is an excellent one – and he looks very fine & jolly.
I do hope your cold is better. You must get rid of it soon. It was my fault rushing you about such a lot.
I was much amused at Mrs. Gardner’s letter what a wonderfully clever woman she must be to have known it for “months & months & months”. No wonder the dear lady hated me. Please, what is a woman’s intuition?
The time is going fast isn’t it? the lovely time I had at home was all too short, which was probably a good thing for you for I am sure you would have been too tired to go on at that pace. Now we are in the midst of the move I expected to take place when I was away. I am going forward to do the billeting for the Brigade – it is much better than travelling with the guns at a walk.
I, too, am finding it awfully difficult to settle down – but I must or things are bound to go wrong. I can hardly realise now that it was all true that glorious time – perhaps you can because you are in the same surroundings – but mine are absolutely different. I am living now for the next leave. I wonder when it will be and whether I shall be as nervous next time as I was when I called on you first last leave.
I hear you are sitting in the Vicarage pew again last Sunday. I am so sorry for you having to face alone all the congratulatory creatures of Finchley. I feel an awful coward. It is very nice being congratulated about you but unless the people are very nice I always want to say “What do you know about her or me”.
I hope you will have a really successful concert the day after tomorrow, mind you tell me all about it. I am glad Mrs Cross & mother are going together. It will do mother good to get away for a bit from the parish.
I suppose you & Mrs Cross are alone now. You will have a quiet time recovering from last week and getting ready for your work on the land.
Is the weather still bad with you? It is very cold & dull here to-day. The weather is cold and dull here. Awful trouble this morning the Colonel’s horse broke loose from the stalls overnight and can’t be found. I have dozens of men out looking for the beastly thing. The old boy is in an awful rage – of course it is my fault!! He will probably be as quiet as a lamb until this evening he sees his mess bill, which I have just made up.
Well, darling mine, I do wish I could have that week all over again. It seems such ages ago & ages since I saw you. I must console myself with thoughts of you and your precious letters. When are you going to discuss things with me. I remember you saying that you used to do so with another man – why not me? You know how jealous I am and how much I long to possess all of you – body, mind and soul. I shall not be satisfied until I do.
I am writing this in my bedroom to avoid interruptions & the noise of telephones. The Colonel has just come in, and one of my search party has returned to say that the missing horse has been found – which has put him in a good temper.
I will write more this evening if I return in time. I am just off now on a ride round the batteries I am just off to ride round the batteries, which are at present scattered. I don’t suppose I shall be back until dark.
The Boche had started shelling the place again, but he has not done much damage. The news is not very exciting yet, but I don’t suppose it will be uninteresting long.
How is the “Mountain” behaving? She seemed very nice I thought. My servant is a treasure and he keeps my things very well indeed.
Please give my love to Mrs Cross & with all my fondest love to you darling and my kisses – though paper ones
Message from Army Corps Commander 25 April 1917
The following letter has been received from the Army Corps Commander, and in publishing it, the G.O.C. wishes to add his appreciation of the splendid work done by all ranks.
G.O.C. 51st (Highland) Division.
I wish to express to the Division through you my congratulations on the splendid work which they have done in the recent fighting, especially on Monday 23rd April.
Though we failed to gain all we hoped to get, it must be remembered that the enemy put forth his utmost strength against us in artillery, machine guns and fresh highly-trained troops. In spite of this, we made substantial progress and inflicted heavy losses on him.
Had it not been for the fine fighting spirit of the Division, the result might easily have been disadvantageous to us. I am proud and delighted with the Division, as they may well be themselves with the grand fight they put up; and I know that when they are rested and re-organised they will be keen to add to their reputation.
(Sgd) CHARLES FERGUSSON
SECRET COPY NO.
9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 65
Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg
INFORMATION 1. The Canadian Corps has been ordered to capture and consolidate the enemy position ARLEUX-EN-GOHELLE and FRESNOY to ACHEVILLE all inclusive.
The XIII Corps on our right will be attacking GRAVELLE and OPPY in conjunction with the above operation.
The attack of the Canadian Corps will be carried out by the 1st and 2nd Divisions and the approximate objective will be C.1.b.3.8 – U.25.a.9.6. – Crossroads U.13.c.4.2. – U.15.a.0.0. – T.18.central. The 3rd Canadian Division will push forward their present line and join up with the left flank of the 2nd Canadian Division.
The 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery and attached A.F.A. Brigades will co-operate by extending the rolling barrage of the 2nd Canadian Division on our right flank by placing a concentrated standing barrage on the German front system as far to the left as the top of the Ridge at T.11.a.1.9. The remainder of the Divisional front to be lightly barraged.
BARRAGES 2. Barrage tables and sketches will be issued later.
PREPARATION 3. In preparation for the above operation the Group will:
(a). Increase their ammunition dumps at the guns to as nearly as possible 700 rounds per 18-pdr gun and 600 rounds per 4.5 how.
(b). Thoroughly register all guns as soon as possible.
TRIAL BARRAGE. 4. Trial barrages will be practiced by batteries on the 26/27th instant in accordance table attached.
- Watches will be synchronised with this office one hour before zero,
Zero hour 26th instant will be five a.m.
do do 27th instant will be 12 noon
Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP
TO: All Batteries
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