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.


Archie A. Laporte Payne letter home 20 Sept 1914

Archie A. Laporte Payne letter home 20 Sept 1914


On headed notepaper.


Christ Church Vicarage,

North Finchley N.


Lukes Rd



Sunday Sept 20 1914.


My dearest Mother,


Many thanks indeed for your letter and parcel which arrived safely. Thank you for your tie which is just right.  I am sorry you had a bother about the address.  I was first of all billeted in a pub – four men in a smelly little room – I was very bored – when in the town later I met a friend who said he was billeted in a palace – so I got leave from the special constable & went there.  They treated us like lords and my friend & I had a room to ourselves and a bed each.  Next day unfortunately we were all re-billeted by companies – and we have got in a very much smaller place & not nearly such nice food – but eight friends have got together in two houses.  We are up in the morning at 5.30, and we get plenty of work – but it will be rather fun I think.


I have met heaps of men I know. There are 3500 of us here now.


This afternoon & evening my friend Richards took me to some friends of his who have a gorgeous place here. We had tea & dinner there.  They are very nice.


Thank you very much for the really good time I have had at home – but I am glad you let me go off, as I really could not stay at home when everyone is enlisting. I may get a commission yet – but I don’t mind if I don’t now.


Will you get me a Vyella shirt Khaki – 10/6 at Army & Navy Stores – detachable shirt collar one and one collar (1/-) collar 15 ½ in – also please send me my Hawkes colour sweater.


We get very little time to ourselves – the Parade ground is miles away.


Hope you are all well & flourishing

With much love to you all


Your affectionate son



18 Div Arty 29 May 2016




Hour                Time before Sunrise                Objects discerned



Hrs.   Mins.

1-30 a.m.                     2         15         Break of dawn.

2-20 a.m.                     1         25         Read watch.

2-30 a.m.                     1         15         See chalk trenches at 600 yards.

2-45 a.m.                     1          0         See earth trenches at 600 yards.

3-5 a.m.                       0         40         Distinguish trenches a mile off.

3-10 a.m.                     0         35         See aeroplane easily flying at 3000’

(Looks black cannot see colours.)

3.15 a.m.                     0         30         Distinguish men’s heads above trenches at 100 yards.

3-25 a.m.                     0         20        See foresight of rifle and men at 300 yards    sufficiently easy for accurate firing.

3-35 a.m.                     0         10         Perfect light to see any objects.




Sunrise at 3-45 a.m.


The morning was an average summer morning, clear sky with thin banks of clouds in the East.




18 Div Arty 29 May 1916

M.P. 6

18 Div Arty


I enclose plan showing routes of F.O.O lines as arranged.


Each red line represents a pair.


All lines except from battalion at A 7/3 to CARNOY exchange are under floor of trenches.


Will you please return this tracing when done with.


M.T. Porter Captain

O/C Sigs 18th Div


18th Div Art 28 May 1916

18th Div Art


I forward herewith tracing shewing German wire, correct to date so far as I can see.


I have not shewn front line wire as there has been no change in that. Gaps at KASINO POINT and BRICK POINT have been repaired.


  1. Thorpe Lt. Col R.A.

Comd. 82nd Bde R.F.A.