H.E. WITTY May 1916

H.E. WITTY May 1916


  1. Section


1st May 1916.  Monday.  Inspection of new gas apparatus – in action fired 10 rounds counter-battery work – gloriously fine again – letter from Alice.  ANS.


2nd May 1916. Tuesday.  Thunder showers today result in occupation of tents – getting in wire from old gun position this morning – finished at noon.  Reading in the afternoon – letter from R. ANS.  Also p.c. from Frank.  Wrote Cissie.


3rd May 1916. Wednesday.  On C.X. line in the morning – reading in afternoon – very little doing – cloudy but fine.  Letter and papers from home.  Letter from Scott.  ANS.  Sent P.C. to Mrs. Witty re Ernie.  Bott at Spinney.


4th May 1916. Thursday.  Another glorious day – on battery – fired 10 rounds – Excellent shooting 5 O.K.s Observer reported a huge explosion the smoke from which covered the wood.  Letters from N.T., Mrs. Phillipson & Gilbert.  ANS.


5th May 1916.  Friday.  On line to C.X. – Called on CG2a – very hot – returned at noon – had a dip in the stream in the afternoon – Footer match with Guards won 2 – 0.  Note from R.


6th May 1916.  Saturday.  Turned out at 3.45 – spent day at Spinney with Mallins – very quiet – thundery showers – Letter from Carter – Very good night.  Major went on Leave.


7th May 1916.  Sunday.  Returned in car at 6 a.m. – turned out very wet during the day – Bridge tournament won by Giles and Calley.  Nothing doing owing to inclement weather.  Letter from Mr. Taylor and Norman S.K.  P.C. from Mag.  To be answered tomorrow.


8th May 1916.  Monday.  On duty – much trouble with the lines especially gun line owing to placing of wire round iron supports resulting in ”baring” the line & causing an earth through the wet medium, C.X. line “DIS” Also Gill at CANAL BANK – BOTT on duty with me.  In action in morning – fired 12 rounds on trenches – indifferent shooting.  Letters from Gilbert.  Y. Post from home – arrival of 53 Siege.


9th May 1916.  Tuesday.  Off duty – very wet and cold – read all the day – Pcl from home.  Letters R. Frank M. Mrs. Gill & J.B. from Ma.  ANS.  Bott went to POP.


10th May 1916.  Wednesday.  On 4 Siege line – left 9-0 – found line very faulty at NO 2 GUN – Double line from Old Billet to NO 2 – found break near DIRTY BUCKET CORNER – shell had burst just beneath – returned 3-30 pm – Footer in Evening NO MAIL – rather showery but much warmer.  Lost with Guards 4-0.  Fired 16 rounds – 8 O.Ks – 4 UN –


11th May 1916.  Thursday.  On gun line – all morning – Signs V Gunners in afternoon DRAW NIL-NIL.  Very warm but slightly dull – appearance of 53’s gun on our loop – Letters Home Frank R and N.T.  ANS.  Wrote R – 12th.

12th May 1916.  Friday.  On Hdqr line today with Bott – met some of 17th Siege returned from Dardanelles – very warm – Reading in afternoon.  Letters Ma and Peg.  S.C. from Scott.  ANS.  Very quiet on front 35 shelled yesterday.


13th May 1916.  Saturday.  Very heavy rains – nothing doing at all.  Spent a good part of the day reading my French Classic.  NO MAIL for me.  Rotten day for grub – is the shortage only temporary or permanent we are wondering Days rations – bread butter cheese.


14th May 1916.  Sunday.  Turned out at 5.30 and went on 4th Siege line.  Broken at Old Billet.  KARTE FARM and around 35 Siege the scene of heavy shelling of recent date.  Returned about noon – spent afternoon putting in a window in corner of hut.  Parcels from Ma and Crimmis (Books) and letter from Alice.  Ans.


15th May 1916.  Monday.  On duty – much trouble with CX line and 4 Siege.  Line laid out to HILL TOP – not used as aeroplane sent a few observations.  Fired 20 rounds on Sap 15.  Indifferent results.  NO MAIL for me.  Very nice night.  Planes bombed POP early this am.


16th May 1916.  Tuesday.  OFF DUTY – very fine day – visit to POP.  Letters Gilbert & R.  ANS.  Had a good time in POP – pictures very good.  Supper at the “Twins” Stam.  They (twins) most interesting.  Slept out in field.


17th May 1916.  Wednesday.  Turned out at 2.45 am and went to CANAL BANK O.P. with Tribe – glorious day very enjoyable – shelled and bombed – bullets very common – things very quiet at battery air craft very active.  R.A.M.C. men congenial company.  Letters Mother N.T. and Woodthrope.  ANS on 18th.


18th May 1916.  Thursday.  Relieved at 10.20 am.  4 Siege at fault.  Returned to camp noon.  Episode of two cars.  Race on YPRES road. Douglas injured – fractured foot.  Rowell killed wiring in No MANS LAND.  Letters N.T. (note re Rowell) and Reg.  ANS.  S.C. from Scott.  Glorious day again.


19th May 1916.  Friday.  On battery in morning and afternoon – fired 3 rounds only in morning owing to presence of hostile aircraft – fired 13 rounds in afternoon – including 4 O.K.s 2 Ys and 2 Zs – Another glorious day.  Slept out again and had a good night.  P.C. from Gladys.  ANS.


20th May 1916.  Saturday.  On line to battery – poling in morning – had a dip in the brook in afternoon – splendid weather – Gun in action – fired 7 Rds Indifferent shooting.  Bottrill at CANAL BANK with Ward.  Letter from Scott.  ANS.  Poor grub day to day – 3 loaves for 18 men daily bread ration.  Bully and pickle for dinner. Ugh!!


21st May 1916.  Sunday.  Gas helmet inspection – otherwise nothing doing.  Playing Bridge – another glorious day.  Pcl from Renie.  ANS.  Also dropped P.C. to Frank for shirts pants etc.



22nd May 1916.  Monday.  Putting up Headquarters wire along the Brook – also tested 4 Siege line from O.B.  Returned at noon.  2.30 Bott and I went up to LA BELLE ALLIANCE (trench O.P. finally reached by adopted the snake mode of progression) Campbell and the Thistle.  Difficulty in getting C.X. – at last communication established.  Opened fire 5 and fired 15 Rds in the ** on HIGH COMMAND REDOUBT.  Excellent shooting barring 3 “very” short.  Little retaliation.  Opened again 6.10 and fired 4 Rds.  Left O.P. 7.30.  Reached camp (very wet) *** pm.  NO MAIL.


23rd May 1916.  Tuesday.  Testing lines – poling 4 Siege Line – connecting up old NO 2 D.S. line to CG4a.  Very fine day.  Returned 12.30.  In action again.  NO MAIL – 10 rounds fired counter battery work – Good.  Phell in Infantry Camp *** getting gun away.


24th May 1916.  Wednesday.  On duty – very quiet day – rainy NO MAIL – night duty with MC.


25th May 1916.  Thursday.  Knowles left to return to Eng. Porton last Tuesday.  Bott at Court of Inquiry – cold and showery.  Off duty – Letters Mother N.T. Miss R. (French) & Douglas.  Papers Mother – ANS.


26th May 1916.  Friday.  Off day – nothing doing – played Bridge in morning and footer in afternoon.  Right X against L. X.  Lost 3-2.  Good MAIL.  Letters R. Ma and Mr Carter, Humberson and Mr Millington.  P.C. R. & Mag.  ANS.  Bott at POP.  Fine day.


27th May 1916.  Saturday. Another fine day – testing battery line in morning.  Played in married v single in afternoon.  Score NIL – NIL.  On C.X. line in evening.  Much activity in the air.  Letter Peg and Alice.  ANS.


28th May 1916.  Sunday.  Turned out at 5.30 Am and went to ROUEN FARM in car to patrol C.X. line.  After great difficulty discovered the break inside the insulation.  Much shelling with 5.9s in our neighbourhood.  Returned to camp after getting line in order at 1 am.  Letter Alice.  P.C. Frank.  ANS.  Sent 30/- to Frank Monday.  Pop shelled with 4.2s.  Another glorious day.


29th May 1916.  Monday.  In battery putting up lines and putting up the poles with insulators in morning – on battery line at Billet in afternoon.  Fired 5 Rds 23s – Aeroplane Wireless gives out.  No MAIL – heavy shelling tonight.  POP shelled all last night.


30th May 1916.  Tuesday.  Much rain – slept out last night & was simply washed out – cleared up in the afternoon.  Nothing doing.  Letters R. and Douglas.  ANS.


31st May 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone duty and night duty – Excellent shoot – 40 Rounds on two salients.  Many direct hits and much debris thrown up.  Letters N.T. home – Papers from home.  ANS.  Bott at O.P.

WAR DIARY OF 2/Lt. Alfred Benjamin STREET May 1916

WAR DIARY OF 2/Lt. Alfred Benjamin STREET



1st May Monday.  Lovely weather except for a Heavy thunderstorm in the late afternoon.  Travelling all day, slept very well at night.  Hot tea and rum was provided three times a day at prearranged places.  Passed through Lyon in the early m’ning.


2nd May Tuesday.  Travelling all night slept well, woken by Ry. officials at Paris for instructions, had breakfast about 8.0 and arrived at Longueau 11.15 a.m.  Hill and a Lieut. White of the A.S.C. came along soon with lorries, started unloading Amm. but had to wait till 3.30 to use the Ramps until the French had finished off loading a train.  At 5.0 went off to La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) with Lt. White to fetch coupling pins from lorries then found the day before that they had been taken out of lorries at gun position the day before, had to hunt round for spare pins off various caterpillars and arrived back at Longueau 6.50.  Coupled up and got away at 7.30.  Were stopped twice on the road by Coupling pins between Caterpillars and gun working out, once by Belt breaking and once to tighten up new belt.  Also ½ hr. delay by Aeroplane scare.


3rd May.  Wed.  Parked at La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) by side of road at 3.30 a.m.  Just daylight.  Got the Caterpillars parked and men dismissed at 4.0.  Put my Valise down in White’s hut after having some grub and got to bed at 5.0 a.m.  Got up at noon, saw the Major who had come over and left La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) with three lorries full of stores at 4.0 p.m. for gun position, arrived there at 5.0 dropped stores, saw White and Lane who were digging with the Battery and then proceeded to Dernacourt to our Billets.  I got fixed up with an Infantry Officer quite comfortably.  Found Harvey in bed with a bad knee and Hart was on the sick list also, Melville and the Major quite fit.  The A.S.C. had been removed to the Siege Park at La Houssoye (Lahoussoye).  Got a huge pile of letters.


4th May Thursday.  Lovely fine day.  Orderly Officer in Billets all day. Battery went out to dig 2.0 p.m. till 8.0 p.m.


5th May Friday.  Fine but dull.  Batty digging dug outs 8.30 to 6.0 p.m.  With signallers in Dernacourt all the m’ning.  Hill came over.  After lunch went out to dug outs.  The roof of a splinter proof fell in owing to the rafters giving way.  Got it roofed again by 6.0 p.m.


6th May Saturday.  Fine but mostly cloudy a little rain in the m’ning.  Had good day’s digging at the Dugouts, covered another splinter proof and finished excavating one Dug Out.  Went with Church, the Col’s Ord. Off. to 83’s position to see an phone exchange.


7th May Sunday.  Dull day heavy shower in afternoon.  Working at Dug Outs and cartridge recesses all day 8.30 – 6.0 p.m.  Hindered by lack of timber.  Signallers digging cable trench between Dug Outs and batty.


8th May Monday.  Cold day very showery.  Ord. Off.  With Signallers all the m’ning.  Batty came in from digging after dinner.  Hack 2nd Lt. KOYLI with whom I shared a billet moved out in the evening.


9th May Tuesday.  Dull & rainy.  Drawing Stores from R.E. m’ning and afternoon in Albert.


10th May Wed.  Dull early but turned out bright and sunny day, chilly wind.  Out digging Dugouts 8.30-6.0p.m. Harvey got up in the evening.


11th May Thursday.  Dull all day but cleared up in the evening.  Out digging from 8.30-6.0p.m.


12th May Friday.  Fine warm day, fairly sunny.  Ord. Off. and had a slack day.  Got through a lot of letters.  Capt. Hart went on leave.


13th May Sat.  Very wet day.  Drew Stores in the m’ning.  Lt. Half went to Baths in Albert.  Went on motor bike up round Sand Pit in afternoon.  White left for course.


14th May Sunday.  Fine day but dull, rain in the late evening.  Went with Corp. Sandwell to the O.P. in Trench 15 above Sand Pit.  Wasted a lot of time through lack of Directions.  Went to reconnoitre possibilities of Visual Signalling between O.P. and battery: returned to billets at 1.30.  At 2.30 went with Major & Corp. Sandwell in car to gun position and at 4.30 went on to O.P. site in Kinfauns Ar taking Kipling as mining expert.  Returned to Billets at 6.30.


15th May Monday.  Very wet until11. a.m.  In billets all day.  Drew Cash and paid Batty in afternoon. Harvey with 4 Sigs went out to man O.P. for 26 S Btty. From 9.0 a.m.



16th May Tuesday.  Lovely fine sunny day.  Went with Corp. Sandwell and 3 other signallers to O.P. above Sand Pit and got into communication with party near Dug Outs.  Returned to billets at 1.40.  Sent Corp. Sandwell up to O.P. with Lamp to Stand towards Batty between 8.0 and 9.0 p.m.  I went with 3 others to pick up the light at Batty end, very successful.  Batty did not parade during the day but at 8.0 p.m. – 2.0 a.m.  Met Twinch in the m’ning up by O.P., he is in 25th S. now, he also gave me news of Yale in 46 and told me where he was at Beaussart N of our position.


17th May Wed.  Lovely sunny day.  In Billets all m’ning. Went with Corp. Sandwell to locate a position for Visual Signalling from O.P. near Osha Redout to battery: not very successful as position was rather far from O.P. started at 2.0p.m. ret 5.45.  Btty digging by night.  Wore Steel Helmet for first time,


18th May  Thursday.  Weather same.  Paraded at 7.30 with Party of 3 Sigs and one O.R. for O.P.  Had a long and very hot march there arr 9.30.  The O.P. belongs to 26th S. LX, Arthur Lemmit’s old btty, but has been appropriated by 7 H.A.G.  Mair came up in the morning, Riley their new Sub. in afternoon and Capt. Duke in the evening.  Fairly quiet day, some Hun shelling afternoon and at dusk, quiet night, lay down from 10.30-2.30. am.


19th .   Was relieved very punctually by 60th S at 9.0 and marched back to Billets.  After lunch went out with the Major to our position for an O.P. near Trois Meules.  Lay down after tea until the Major woke me up to go out to Btty position and lay out the Line of Fire for each gun.  He took 2 hrs over it and then his result was of little use as Lane had to do it again next day when laying down the beams.  Lane and two gun Detachments went to live in the Battery Dug Outs.


20th May Saturday.  Weather same.  With signallers for half the m’ning and then biked out to the Btty position and in again for lunch.  Rested in the afternoon.  Paraded with Signallers at 8.0 p.m. went and dug cable trench to dugouts, returned at 12.0 m’dn’ght.


21st May Sunday.  Weather same.  Paraded at 8.0 a.m.  Went out to the Btty position, met Church out there and discussed various points re Signalling, returned to lunch.  Corp. Collins to Hosp. with measles and 22 of the Batty isolated.  Rested in the afternoon.  Paraded 8-12 m’dn’ght.  Signallers digging cable trench and remainder working on Gun pits.  Capt Hart ret from leave.


22nd May Monday.  Fine sunny day, shower in the evening.  Btty paraded 4 p.m.- 12.0.  In afternoon attended to message re moving out of our Mess billet.  After dinner went on bike to La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) to accompany No 1 & 2 guns to position near gun position, left La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) at 8.0 p.m. arr soon after 12.0 and got guns parked by 1.0 a.m.



23rd May Tuesday.  Dullish day, fine.  In the m’ning fatigue party pitched a Tarpaulin as a mess tent for when we move out of our Mess Billet.  Left Dernacourt for La Houssoye (Lahoussoye)  at 7.0 p.m., inner tube of back tyre burst at 7.20, got going again at 8.0 p.m. and met Caterpillars with Nos. 3 & 4 guns just outside La Houssoye (Lahoussoye).  They arrived near the gun position at 11.30 and were parked by 12.30.  Btty paraded at 8.0 p.m. to put in Nos. 1 & 2 guns, they went in fairly well but the pins on the aft part of the cradle were the cause of delay as usual owing to their getting bent in transit.  Got finished finally at 3.0 a.m. and returned to Billets.


24th May Wed.  Fine m’ning but dull, started to rain at midday.  At 11.30 I biked into Albert to Home Counties R.E. to see about getting some boxes made for using Elec. Sig. Lamps by day.  Rained all the afternoon.  Capt. Langford came over at tea time and left afterwards.  The Major put off putting the other two guns in owing to the wet weather making the ground so bad.  It stopped raining about 7.30. Harvey acting Adj for 7th H.A.G. while Anderson is on leave.


25th May Thursday.  Fine but dull.  Paraded 8.0 a.m. -12.0.  Proceeded with getting the gun pits of Nos. 3 & 4 ready for putting the guns in.  Paraded at 7.30 to put No 3 & 4 guns in.  It started to rain at 8.0 and continued pretty well all night.  Got No 4 gun in successfully by 1.0 a.m. but No. 3 could not finish getting the Howitzer in owing to the slope up to the pit and the state of the ground.  Had a hard job shifting the wheels away, the ground being very heavy and few men available.  Returned to billets at 4.0 a.m.


26th May Friday.  Fine day fairly sunny cool evening.  Btty paraded at 4.0 p.m. and Melville took them out to Btty position to finish putting in No. 3 gun.


27th May Sat.  Fine hot day.  Btty paraded at 8.0 a.m. and I took them out to Btty position to work till 12.0 and again 8. p.m. to midnight.  White returned from Officers’ Course.  The Staff Capt asked me whether I should care for the job of Ord. Off. to the General IIIrd Corps H.A. and whether I would care for him to apply for me, I replied I should.


28th May Sunday.  Dull early.  Warm and sunny later.  Melville went away on leave at 8.0 a.m. owing to his Father being very ill.  Leave for the men started.  In billets all day.  Did some extracting of notes for the Major.  Btty working 8.0 a.m. -12 and 8.0 p.m. – 12.


29th May Monday.  Fine warm sunny day, clouded over in the evening and rained after 9.30 p.m.  Reported to the Staff Capt. In the morning.  Saw Gen. Perkins who told me have me as Ord: Off; temporarily if my Major agreed.  Member of a Court Martial at 10.0 a.m.  Saw the Major at lunch who agreed to my going to the General, reported to him at 2.0 p.m. and started work straight away.


30th May Tuesday.  Dull morning cleared up in the afternoon.  In the office all day.  Went for a walk with Capt. Young before dinner.


31st May Wed.  Fine sunny day.  The General had Col. Hamilton, Capt. Hardy (D) & Capt. Bagnall to dinner, very pleasant evening.

A.G. Richardson’s Diary May 1916

A.G. Richardson’s Diary May 1916


Monday 1st May 1916:            Signalling with the Officers – on guard at wagon park.

Tuesday 2nd May 1916:           On guard all day at wagon park.

Wednesday 3rd May 1916:      Signalling with the officers one hour.

Thursday 4th May 1916:          Colonel returns from leave.  Signalling with Officers in morning.

Friday 5th May 1916:              Interview with the Adjt.  Signalling with the Officers.

Saturday 6th May 1916;          Signalling with the Officers & 1st Sect aft.

Sunday 7th May 1916:             Church Parade at 10 am.  Lovely ramble.

Monday 8th May 1916:           Signalling with the Officers.  Fishing with S.M. Spencer.

Tuesday 9th May 1916:           Signalling with the Officers.  1st Sect in aft.

Wednesday 10th May 1916:    Signalling with the Officers.  1st Sect in aft.

Thursday 11th May 1916:        Signalling in morning with the Officers.  1st Sect in aft.

Friday 12th May 1916:                        Signalling with the Officers in morning.

Saturday 13th May 1916:        Signalling with the Officers.  Fishing with Shaw.

Sunday 14th May 1916:           Church Parade at 10 am.  Lovely walk with Cecil & Tommy.

Monday 15th May 1916:         x Received my stripe back & exonerated from all blame. Only the Adjt to be thanked.

Tuesday 16th May 1916:         Signalling with the Officers.

Wednesday 17th May 1916:    Signalling with the Officers.

Thursday 18th May 1916:        Went a long walk with Eagle & then played billiards Friday 19th May 1916:                       Sent to 1st Sect (near D.A.C.) to Capt Emsley with recommend from the Adjt & paid Bombr.  Also Cecil & Tommy.

Saturday 20th May 1916:        Placed into E Sub-Sect.  In stables all day.  Out in village at night.

Sunday 21st May 1916:           Reveille 6.  Stables 6.30.  Went to VIGNACOURT with 920 hand grenades to 146th Inf Bde.  Half Holiday.  Fine day.

Monday 22nd May 1916:         Reveille 6 am – Stables 6.30.  Grooming & cleaning harness all day.  Cecil & Tommy leave & go to 4th Sect.

Tuesday 23rd May 1916:         Stables 6.30 am.  Lieut P.H. Walker exchanges 18 old 4th Sect men but leaves me at 1st Sect.  “Ca ne fait rien”.  Harness cleaning.

Wednesday 24th May 1916:    Empire Day.  No special celebration.  Reveille 6 am.  Took 29 Reinforcements to M.O. for medical inspections.  Cleaning Harness.

Thursday 25th May 1916:        Received my old job back – Went for rations to Havernas at 10 am with Gnr Briggs.  Returned at 2 pm.  Drew stores at H.Q. with Q.M.S.

Friday 26th May 1916:                        Reveille 6 am.  Went to Havernas for rations 10 – 2 pm.  Saw Forster & Trench Mortars.  On H.Q. guard.

Saturday 27th May 1916:        Went to Havernas for rations with Briggs.  At Berteaucourt at night.

Sunday 28th May 1916:           Went to Havernas with Briggs for rations.  Out in the village at night with Cecil & Tommy.

Monday 29th May 1916:         Went to Havernas for rations.  Briggs goes on leave.

Tuesday 30th May 1916:         Went to Havernas for rations.  On piquet at night.

Wednesday 31st May 1916:    Went to Havernas for rations on bicycle.  At Berteaucourt at night.

Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home December 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home December 1914


On embossed headed notepaper.

Royal Field Artillery,


R.A. Crest

Dec 9 1914

My dearest Mother & Father,


Thank you so very much for your letters and present. It is very good of you to send me those gloves – they are lovely ones and will be most useful.  Your loving wishes & kind thoughts I know I can always have but a birthday I suppose is, more than at other times, a fitting time to express them.  But I don’t like birthdays at all.  They come too soon.  Dr Nostum very kindly remembered me and sent me a box of Bath Buns.  Please thank Maude & Evelyn for their letters.  I will reply sometime.  As you can imagine we are frightfully busy.  I am afraid Christmas will be impossible.  The captain will be away if anybody is – so I shan’t get a look in.  don’t trouble about glasses.  I hope you got my postcard of yesterday.  I have heard from Reggie.  I am glad he is better.  I could not get home over the week end and I am afraid next week will be impossible.  We are one officer short as one of them has left for the front,


Thank you very much for the vest I should like a couple of short pants if they can be obtained of the same material. I am glad Evelyn had such a good time at Bath.  I hope she has quite recovered from her bad tooth.


I see that Vyvyian is gazetted today in the Times to the R.F.A. I don’t suppose he will come here. He will go to some lower division.  I have written to him.


I did not see Mr Tillyers card in your letter. It may have dropped out however.  Don’t send any rubbish through.  The men are rather particular.  I want old Windsors, Strands, Pearsons, & 6d Illustrated papers etc.  I know the sort of stuff some good people think tommies appreciate.


Things go much as usual. We have guns but only old 15 pounders & not the ones we ought to have.  The men have got khaki in our battery now and they work much better.


I am glad Vyvyan has got someone to knit him a scarf – I am sure he needs one!! ! I wish I had somebody to do likewise for me – Oh, I forgot 92 in the shade!


I have got another tunic so I am alright now. I have to get a lot more things before the kit inspection which takes place soon.


No more now as dinner is just on & there is no news to tell.


Much love to you & all & many thanks for birthday wishes & presents


Your affectionate son



On headed notepaper.


Royal Field Artillery,


R.A. Crest

Dec 20 1914.


My dearest Mother,


Everything is alright. Leave, for various reasons which I will not enumerate, has been cancelled until Wednesday next when I hope to get home again.


The train was full of angry officers called up from other parts. I was in barracks by 9.45 p.m.  So sorry to give you such a fright but one must expect these things when on active service.  I hope the Congregation did not think the Germans had arrived.


Much love. Hope you are all well.



Your affectionate son



Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home November 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home November 1914


On embossed Government notepaper.


R.A. Mess



Monday Nov 1914


My dearest Mother & Father,


Many thanks for your letters and parcel of washing. I am glad of a silk handkerchief too.  I brought one the other day – a silk one – and then tried to wash it and all the colour came out.  We are as you can imagine very busy.


I arrived back safely last Sunday and found things much as usual. The magazines proved very acceptable to the men in barracks.  I have been out riding most days this week.  On Saturday I had four hours in the saddle.  I may have to go to Ipswich after all.  It will be further away from home but it will be nicer there I think.  I do not like Colchester at all.


We had church parade yesterday morning as usual. I was in command of our battery.


I have called on the Harrises twice lately but they have been out both times.


How are things going in Finchley? I hope well.  I am sorry Father has a sore throat.  I hope it is better now, and also Mother’s throat.  I expect Evelyn is enjoying herself in Bath.  Tell Maude to come down here by a cheap train with someone nice if she can get off.  I could see her once or twice during the day.  There is no where to go down here and nothing to do unfortunately.


I don’t know when I shall be able to get away again. I enjoyed my last week end very much indeed.  It was all too short though we are still under canvas but I don’t mind it a bit now.  It has been extraordinarily mild although a trifle damp.


The news from the front is much better to-day. It rests to a great extent with the Russians I think.


If you hear of anyone with a good pair of field glasses – I should be glad of them.


Hoping you are all well with much love to you & all


Your loving son




On embossed headed notepaper.


Royal Field Artillery


R.A. Crest.

Monday Nov 16 1914


My dearest Mother & Father,


I enjoyed my short visit to you very much indeed. I was glad to find you all well and everything going well.  I got back here quite safely and am hard at work again.  Tomorrow I hope to go into a billet.  I find it will only cost me 3d a day over the amount I am allowed for living out which is 4/9 per day.


Please tell Maude to give me due notice when she is coming down. Don’t you think she might stay the night here if she came down with somebody?  I can make all arrangements.


With much love to you & all.



Your affectionate son




On plain notepaper.

R.A. Mess


Nov 27th 1914

My dearest Mother & Father,


Thank you very much for your letters and parcel of washing which arrived quite safely. I am so sorry to hear that Eve has been so unwell.  I hope you have better news of her now.


Things go much as usual now we have got a new battery commander. The other man having left for France to do Reconnaissance work in the Royal Flying Corps.


My host’s brother Major Chopping R.A.M.C. has arrived tonight from Ypres in France for a short holiday of 3 days – for a rest and to get married.  He has been telling me a lot of interesting news from the front.  He says all our men are doing and can do is to hold the Germans for the present.  The men are worn out with constant marching & fighting.


I am very sorry you have had all that trouble about a sword. It was very good of you to trouble so much.  It was the fault of those stupid people Kinos.


Anyhow I am glad you have got the money back. I shan’t trouble about a sword just at present.  They may be cheaper & better later on.


I had dinner at the Harris’ on Wednesday night & took a friend with me. I see some stupid man (probably a slacker) has been criticising the probable granting of a week’s leave about Christmas time.  I wish I could get him here & let my men have a go at him.


I am sorry to hear about Mr Sherlock. It is very sad for his sons.  I see Hunters – my Salisbury friend has been wounded at the front.


No doubt everything is prospering favourably at Finchley, at least I hope so and that you are all keeping well.


The weather is very changeable here. Last night it rained very hard.  I am afraid I can’t get away this week end.  Perhaps it is just as well as it is rather expensive travelling.


When does Evelyn come home? I suppose soon now & then it will be Maude’s turn.


With much love to you & all.



Your affect son


Without cover.


A.A. Laporte Payne November 1914

A.A. Laporte Payne November 1914


Nov 13th 1914




I desire to apply for leave from 12, noon on Saturday, November, 14th 1914, to midnight on Sunday November, 15th 1914.

I have the honour to be,

Your obedient servant


2/Lieut R.F.A.


O.C. 260th Battery

R.F.A. Colchester


Forwarded and recommended

H.F.T. Blowey

Lieut R.F.A.

O.C. 260th Battery R.F.A.


To O.C. 83rd Brigade R.F.A.



  1. Commanding 260th Battery R.F.A.

Returned. Brigade Order No. 145 has not been complied with

  1. Hanna

Colonel R.F.A.

Commanding 83rd Brigade R.F.A.

Colchester, 13.11.14


Monday November 16 1914


“Tomorrow I hope to go into a billet. It will only cost me threepence a day over the amount I am allowed for living out, which is 4/9 per day.


November 27


“We have a new Battery Commander, the last having left for France to join the Royal Flying Corps.


My host’s brother, Major Chopping R.A.M.C. has arrived tonight from Ypres for a short holiday of 3 days.  He has told me a great deal of interesting information.  He says that our troops can only hold the Germans for the present, and nothing further.  The men are worn out with constant marching & fighting.


I see Huntriss, whom I knew at Salisbury, has been wounded.


Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home October 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letters home October 1914


On plain notepaper.



Links Rd



Oct 2 1914


My dearest Mother & Father,

Many thanks for letters & forwarded correspondence. Will you let one know all particulars for Sunday, as I may be able to get off?  I could not last Sunday as I had orderly duty to see to.


Yes I should like a pair or so of Hick stockings. Don’t send pyjamas yet.  I am hoping to leave here any day now.


We are very busy. We have been paid!!!!  15/- we got each.  What a lot of hard work for a mere nothing!  It was in 10/- note & 5/- postal order.


Please give me Reggie’s address in case I can’t get away.


I hope you are all well & flourishing. Everything going right.  All here is as usual.  Drill all day long with route marching.  It gets rather boring.  We have no rifles or uniforms yet.


With much love to you & all


Your affectionate son



P.S. What does Reg want for his ordination & Maude for her birthday?



On embossed notepaper.


At Alton

Alexandra Park.



Oct 5 1914


My dearest Mother & Father,


Many thanks indeed for your letters and parcel. I have made the stupidest mistake I have ever made in my life.  I had worked it out alright and I was to get to the ordination service on Sunday morning from here.  I left early and got to town with some other men and I took a ticket to Chelmsford instead of Colchester.  I missed the early train but got to Chelmsford at 10.30 of course I soon found out my mistake but there were no more trains to Colchester till late afternoon and I had no money to rattle a can so I had to return to town & went to Uncles for the day.


I was most sorry to miss Reggie’s ordination but I was with you all in spirit.  I am glad to hear it went off alright.  I have written to Reggie.  I was very angry at my stupid mistake.  I had Chelmsford in my mind all the time I am afraid.  If I am in England I must go to his priest’s ordination in stead.  Reg must be very glad to be settled.  We have not got our uniforms yet but hope to do so soon.  I wish I could get my commission.  We are still very busy and at the end of the day fairly tired so we retire early.


They are putting up the huts here now so I expect we shall be soon getting into them.


I hope your harvest went off well & that there were good congregations. If I am gazetted soon I shall come home at once to get uniform etc & have a rest.  I hope I get an artillery commission but it is very doubtful.


There is absolutely no news to tell you. Everything goes as usual.  We did some skirmishing this morning & a route march this afternoon.


Hoping you are all keeping well with much love to you all.



Your loving son



On embossed headed notepaper.

Royal Field Artillery


R.A. Crest.

Oct 19 1914


My dearest Mother,


Arrived here safely & found my quarters – in tents – everything is overflowing. I have very nice officers over me.  I have met men I know.  One of them is Dennis – a Whitby friend of Reggies.


Will you please send me two large towels, a pillow case (perhaps 2) an extra rug – (my own if possible). I shall get on here quite alright.  The two Dexters have got commissions here.  There are several Cambridge men here.


Hoping you are all well & flourishing. I am alright here.  The open air will do me good.  I shan’t be under canvass long.


Best love



Your loving son




On headed notepaper.


R.A. Mess

Royal Field Artillery,


R.A. Crest.

Friday Oct 23 1914


My dearest Mother & Father,


Many thanks indeed for your letters & parcels which have all arrived quite safely. The washing and rugs have all come.  I am having quite a good time here.  There are about 50 Sub Lieuts several Cambridge & Oxford men.  We get up about 6. am and I go on parade at 7.  I was posted to the 260 Battery & I found only one officer – a sub Lieut of 2 months training in command in a major’s position.  He usually is away & I was told to carry on – so I am here in command of 270 men for marching drill on parade ground & route marching etc.  since then 2 other subs have turned up & are my juniors & I divide the battery into two sections & they take one each while I watch & then I join them up & drill them together.  You should have seen me the first morning.  I was all alone & did not know any drill at all.  It is quite different to the Infantry drill – so I used to march them about & look at the drill book when the men could not see me & then I gave the next order.  I can get on alright now & teach the 2 new subs – Eh what!  You should have been on parade when General Maxse came past and I gave him the battery salute.  We have no horses yet in our battery – but there are lots here – we hope to have some soon.  There is no accommodation for officers mess so we (one other chap & myself) have found a very nice family to give us three meals a day – for £1-1/- week each – we get splendid meals – 4 course dinner – 3 course lunch & breakfast.  They keep 2 cars.  We are still in tents – but it is not very cold.  I am afraid week ends are impossible yet.  Colonel English is all against them – as the men cannot get off.  Today we paid the men and every day I have to inspect the kit and barrack rooms & tents etc. etc.


Some of the officers here are very nice and we get on quite well. Parades are 7 – 8, 9 – 12.15, 2 – 4.15 – lecture for officers at 5.30.  then we are supposed to work at night – but we are pretty tired by that time.  The only old regular officers here are acting Colonels commanding a brigade – all the rest are subs.


We are in the 18th Division of artillery under a Brigadier General who is Col. English, divided up into four Brigades under 4 Colonels.  My brigade is the 83rd under Major Richardson.  Each Brigade is composed of 3 Batteries – I am in 260th under Lieut Gardner – an old Cant man.


Each Brigade is composed of 2 Sections of 2 guns each with a sub Lieut in comnd of each. Or 4 sub sections of one gun each under a Sergt – so you see I am really acting captain in our battery with 2 subs & 4 Sergts under me – What ho!


Tomorrow we hope to start driving drill – all the men are divided into Gunners or Drivers. I don’t want a knitted helmet as I have got one.  I have called on Mr Harris & he has given me a pocket barometer which we have to get – a most expensive one.


My cold is alright now & I am feeling very fit.

I have been to the Cups Hotel for a meal. I do hope you are all keeping well.  I must try to get off sometime & see you all.  We shall be here ages and the men will want a lot of knocking into shape.  Some things that happen are most amusing.  There is some talk of going into huts at Ipswich – and I shall have to put in some time at Woolwich & Shoeburyness.  We are all being inoculated by batches.  My turn has nor come yet,


With much love to you & all.



Your loving son



Without cover.


A.A. Laporte Payne October 1914


A.A. Laporte Payne October 1914

October 2, 1914


Links Road,


“We have actually been paid, 15 shillings each, a ten shilling note and a five shilling postal order. What a lot of work, drill, and being messed about, for those few shillings.  It is drill all day long with long route marches thrown in, and it gets rather boring, for we have no arms or uniform yet.


War Office, Whitehall, S.W.


Dear Payne,

I am sorry you could not find a vacancy in either Middlesex Battalion, but we did our best.

I am sure you were wise to accept a Gunner Commission. You will pick up the riding part of it very soon, and you will make a first class artilleryman.  In a few months, in fact, you will despise all footsloggers!

If you find later you don’t care for the work, you can work a transfer to the Line through your Divisional General.

In haste,

Lancelot Storr.


War Office


Dear Payne,

I think you may get to the front just as soon with R.F.A., and you were wise to accept the offer of a temporary commission. Our casualties in the artillery are very heavy.

The main thing is to get to work as soon as possible.

The rest a Greek quote.

Yours sincerely

Lancelot Storr.


112/ARTILLERY/1993. (A.G.6)                                                                   War Office


10th October 1914



I am directed to inform you, that, on appointment to a temporary Second Lieutenancy in the Royal Field Artillery you have been posted to the 18th Divisional Artillery and should apply in writing at once, to the General Officer Commanding 18th Division Colchester for instructions regarding the unit and the station you are to join.

You should at once communicate your address to your regimental agents, Messrs Cox & Co., 16, Charing Cross, S.W., and keep them informed of any change of address, so that orders may readily be communicated to you.

You are requested to acknowledge the receipt of this letter and to return the attached “NEXT OF KIN” form completed, to the War Office.

I am,


Your obedient Servant.

Arthur Young,

Lieut. Colonel,

for Major General,

director of Personal Services.


2nd Lieutenant A.A. Laporte Payne

Royal Field Artillery

Christchurch Vicarage,

North Finchley



War Office.





Dear Payne,


I think for various reasons you should join the Infantry; that you’re your first posting, and the second posting was evidently made in error. Also, there is the question of finance; although for the period of the war I don’t think one Arm will be more expensive than another.

My own tailors are John Morgan, 5, Albemarle Street; they are good but expensive.  I have also had things made by J and G Ross, 32, Old Bond Street, who are less extortionate and have done me well.


Lancelot Storr.





October 13 1914



Ref. your letter dated 12th October 1914.

Will you please join as soon as possible at Colchester.

The uniform necessary for you to have on joining is:-


1 Suit Service Dress,

Khaki Shirt,

“     Tie,

Boots and spurs,

Sam Browne belt if possible.


H.F. Salt,

Captain, R.F.A.

A/Bde. Major, R.A. 18th Division.





Boots, field     pair 1.

Braces             “   1.

Cap, service dress, with badge 1.

Disc, identity, with cord.

Socks               pair 1.

Suit, service dress (jacket and riding breeches)

Shirt, drab flannel, with collar 1.

Spurs               pair 1.

Tie, drab                 1.

Underclothing, suit.



Books Army Book 155 Field service pocket book.

Cap, comforter (in pocket of greatcoat)

Compass, magnetic, pocket (or prismatic in case)

Cutters, wire (in wallets.) pair

Dressing, field (in skirt of jacket)

Glasses (binoculars or telescope, or both in one case)

Slung from left shoulder or worn on belt

Grease (or Vaseline) in wallets tin 1.

Greatcoat 1. Rolled, 26 ins long behind saddle.

Handkerchief              1

Holdall (in wallets), containing knife, fork and spoon hairbrush and combe, toothbrush, shaving brush and razor.

Knife, clasp, with ring and swivel 1

Matches, box 1.

Soap (in wallets) piece 1.

Socks pair 1.

Towel       1.

Watch (in wrist strap)

Whistle and lanyard.



Belt “Sam Browne” (waist belt, 2 shoulder belts, ammunition pouch and pistol case and sword frog.)



Sword knot

Water-bottle (aluminium) and sling.


  1. ARMS.

Pistol (no special pattern, but must carry Government ammunition.) On left side of S.B. belt.

Sword. On nearshoe case, edge to rear.

Scabbard, leather.



Cartridges, S.A. ball, pistol, Webley, rounds 12.



The total weights (excluding articles in camp kettles) of 50 lbs. for a commanding officer and 35 lbs. for other officers must not be exceeded.

Valise, Wolseley.

Boots, field.

Buckets, canvass


Lantern, collapsible with talc sides.

Portfolio with writing materials

Shoes, canvas


Suit, service dress

Shirt, drab, flannel.


Tie, drab.



One Camp Kettle is allowed for every three officers who pack into it each, cup, enamelled plates, enamelled, pots, pepper, salt.

Note. Officers may leave at the base a bullock trunk packed with 100 lbs of personal baggage. This reserve baggage will be forwarded only when it may be deemed convenient to the service by the Commander In Chief.


(Scott and Son of 83 Regent Street write that they are making most of the R.A. kits! and offer to supply a drab whipcord service jacket, pair of collar badges and 1 pair stars for £3.15.6 and a Sam Browne Belt complete with holster and pouch for £2.5.6 and a sword, best proved blade with scabbard from five guineas. Field Kit complete for £7.10.0.  Prices for cash, fit and regulation guaranteed.)





C.R.A                                      Colonel English

O.C. 83rd Brigade R.F.A.        Major Robertson

260th Battery O.C.                  Gardner.


October 19 1914

Royal Field Artillery



“I have arrived here alright, and find my abode in a tent in front of the Gunner Mess. I have already met several men I know, and a friend of Reg’s named Dennis.  The two Dexters are here also.


Nov 9th. “still under canvass.”






“In this Division at present there are about 50 Second Lieuts including several Oxford & Cambridge men.

I have been posted to the 260th Battery, and I found it possessed only one officer, a second lieut of two months standing who was in command.  He is usually is away, so I was told to carry on.  I did what I could, which was precious little.  I was horribly embarrassed.

The result is that here I am in command of 270 untrained men, trying to teach them marching drill, about which I know nothing at all. Route marching is easier.  We rise at 6 a.m., and at 7 I go on to the parade ground having previously looked up a few words of command in the book called Field Artillery Training.  Since I arrived two other subalterns have arrived, who know less than I do, if that is possible.  Now I can divide the battery up into two sections, which I hand over to the two subalterns, while I look on and wisely criticise.  Then when I have bucked up sufficient courage I join the two sections and drill the whole battery.

The first morning I was on parade was terrifying, but really most amusing.  I was all alone,  did not know any drill at all.  I used to know a little infantry drill, but this is quite different.


So when I wanted to advance my knowledge I marched the men about and when their backs were turned towards me, I secretly looked at the drill book.  Then I gave the next order.  So I learn, if the men do not.  Then one day to my horror General Maxse came past when I was in the midst of perpetrating my deceptions.  I managed to give the battery the order to “eyes right” and then almost collapsed.  Maxse hates subalterns, and gunner subalterns most of all.  I wonder what he thought of it all.  No doubt he made great fun of us over his port at night.  However we mean well, and I would not mind betting he never commanded a battery of men knowing no drill on the first day he put on H.M.s uniform


Though there are several horses here, we in our battery have none yet. We are hoping for some soon.  Then we shall have some fun.


As there is no accommodation for us in the Officers’ Mess, so another fellow and I have found a very decent family to provide us with three meals a day for one guinea a week each. The meals are quite good, including a four course dinner, three course lunch and breakfast.  We are still in tents, but it is not very cold.


Week-end leave is impossible. Colonel English is dead against such relaxations, as the men cannot get away too.  Today I paid the troops, and every day I have to inspect Kit, barrack rooms and tents.  As I do not know in the slightest what to look for I do not suppose my inspections are of much use.


Parades are 7 to 8,a.m. 9 to 12.15,p.m.;  2 to 4.15 p.m with a lectures for officers at 5.30 p.m.  Then we are supposed to work at night, but by then we are pretty tired.  The only regular officers here are Colonels commanding Brigades, and then they are dug-outs.  All the rest are new subalterns.


The 18th Divisional Artillery is commanded by Colonel English.  There are four Brigades.  Mine is the 83rd under Major Richardson.  Each Brigade is composed of three Batteries.  I am in 260th under Lieut Gardner, a Cambridge man.


The batteries are divided “into sections” of two guns each commanded by a subaltern, or four sub sections, each in charge of a sergeant.


Tomorrow we hope to start driving drill on our flat feet. It will probably turn into a fearful Harry Tate mess.


I can see we shall be here for ages. We require a tremendous amount of training, especially as we are gunners.


There is some talk of going into huts at Ipswich, and I shall have to go to Woolwich and Shoeburyness for training.


We are being inoculated by batches. My turn is to come.  Well it is all very interesting but bewildering.


The life is so strange. I feel like a silly little boy at a vast public school for the first time.  I suppose I shall get used to it some day.



AA Laporte Payne Sept 1914

EPSOM September, 1914


1st Battalion, No 1 Company, Section 4.


J.P.D. Clarke.  Sergt.   “Long John”    C.C.C. Camb X

Williams          “Bimph”                                  X

Osborne           “Ossy”

Harry Richards            “Loose Lizzy”

Roland Richards         “Rolly”                                    X

E.C. Collins                 “Lottie”           C.C.C. Camb

P.D. Gilmour Ellis       “Gil”

A.A. Laporte Payne    “Algy”             C.C.C. Camb




September 20 1914




Links Road


“I was first of all billeted in a public house with three other men. When in the town later I met a friend who said he was in a palace, so I got leave from a Special Constable to move there.  On the next day, most unfortunately, we were re-billeted by companies, and we have landed up in a much smaller house and the food is not nearly as good.  But eight of us all friends are billeted together in two adjacent houses.  It is great fun.  I have met several men I know.  There are 3500 of us here now.  I dined out this evening with Richards at the house of friends of his, named Mountain.


SEPTEMBER 24th 1914


Having obtained leave of absence I called on Major C. Lancelot Storr, Rom 206, War Office, who took details of such qualifications as I had, and said he would do what he could. He informed me that the application from Cambridge University had been mislaid, but that he would put a fresh application for a commission through for me.


I obtained leave to go to town by saying that the War Office wanted to interview me. So a full blown private marched boldly into the “Holy of Holies, armed with a sheet of foolscap on which I had set out my name, age, school, University, degree honours, cadet corps service, and the fact that I had been for four weeks or so a private in H.M. Army.


I received the advice from an old soldier that “ the thing to do is to make the most of yourself, and not belittle your achievements. Humility does not pay in the army.”



September 24th 1914




Private A.A.L. Payne has leave of absence until 10 p.m. September, 24th 1914


H.E. Bowes Lyon

O.C. No 1 Company,

No 1 Battalion.




“Colonel Griffin ….. is wondering what the War Office have done for you today, and says if you would like a commission in his battalion, the 11th Middlesex Regiment, write to the Officer Commanding this regiment, Hydrabad Barracks, Colchester, and ask for a commission as a 2/Lieut.  State all qualifications.  There is at present one vacancy for a 2nd Lieut. And one or two vacancies in the 12th and 13th Battalions.

Our love to you, my son. May the right decision be clear.  I esteem your prompt response to the call of duty.  The strongest fortress of prayer is yours.

Your affectionate Father.


Form M.T. 397                                                                        WAR OFFICE


25th September 1914



With reference to your application for appointment to the Special Reserve of Officers, I am directed to inform you that the applications for such appointments already received are far in excess of the vacancies available. It has therefore not been practicable to grant you a commission in the Special Reserve.

I am to say, however, that your name has been placed on a waiting list of candidates for appointment to a temporary regular commission for the period of the war, and you will be duly informed if, and when, there is a vacancy to which you can be appointed.

If you are desirous of taking up such an appointment it will not be necessary for you (or any other person on your behalf) to address any further communication to this Office on the subject. Owing to pressure of work it will not be practicable to reply to such communication if sent.

If, however, you do not wish to be appointed to a temporary regular commission you should at once notify the fact to this Office.


I am,


Your Obedient Servant,

  1. Grant, Captain

for Director of Military Training.


Secretary of State for War.                                                                 War Office,



25 Sept 1914


Dear Mr. Payne,

I have handed your application personally to the Assistant Military Secretary, so I hope you will be fixed up before long. You may have to wait a week or two.

In the meantime, get Major Griffin to apply officially for you to go to him directly you are gazetted and ask him to address the envelope to me by name to save time. Let me hear if you are not fixed up, say, in 3 weeks time.

Very truly yours

  1. Storr.





As I have no vacancies for officers in my battalion I have forwarded your letter to Colonel Glover, commanding 12th Middlesex Regiment.

Yours faithfully

W.D. Ingle

Lieut. Colonel

Comdg. 11th Middlesex Regt.


Form M.T. 426 (M.T. 3)                                                                      WAR OFFICE


30th September, 1914.


I am directed to inform you that your application for an appointment to a Temporary Commission in the Regular Army has been received. The Cavalry List is full at present.  Will you kindly state by return if possible, whether you desire to be considered for appointment to a Temporary Commission in the Royal Field Artillery.

Please state exactly what previous military experience you have had and also what standard of riding you have attained. If you have hunted state for how many seasons and with what pack etc.

I am,


Your obedient Servant

E.B. CLIVE Capt.

for Director of Military Training.