A.A. Laporte Payne October 1914
October 2, 1914
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Your obedient Servant.
for Major General,
director of Personal Services.
2nd Lieutenant A.A. Laporte Payne
Royal Field Artillery
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.
From, O.C. ROYAL ARTILLERY
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,
Boots and spurs,
Sam Browne belt if possible.
A/Bde. Major, R.A. 18th Division.
FIELD KITS OF MOUNTED SERVICES.
- WORN BY THE OFFICER.
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.
- OTHER PERSONAL EFFECTS.
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.
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.
Watch (in wrist strap)
Whistle and lanyard.
Belt “Sam Browne” (waist belt, 2 shoulder belts, ammunition pouch and pistol case and sword frog.)
Water-bottle (aluminium) and sling.
Pistol (no special pattern, but must carry Government ammunition.) On left side of S.B. belt.
Sword. On nearshoe case, edge to rear.
Cartridges, S.A. ball, pistol, Webley, rounds 12.
CARRIED IN TRANSPORT TRAIN.
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.
Lantern, collapsible with talc sides.
Portfolio with writing materials
Suit, service dress
Shirt, drab, flannel.
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.”
FRIDAY OCTOBER 23 1914
“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.