War Diary of AA Laporte Payne
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda & Correspondence
June 13, 1915.
“I am unable to get away this week end. It has been truly glorious weather, much too hot for work. We had two field days last week . This week we are doing night digging.
I motored over to Bath one evening early last week and went with some friends to hear the band of the 1st Life Guards. We got back about one in the morning. The roads here are full of vehicles of every description ever invented since the Flood, from the donkey cart to the large steam lorry. Even the railway has been carried along the Codford Road. Hundreds of led horses, wagons of forage, stores, cause a vast confusion, and a solid block of sweating horses and men. Everywhere and above all is thick dust, turning the troops white.
I have just managed to get a beautiful little mare. She looks well, and is full of life. I have entered her for the Divisional Horse show to be held soon as a final social function. The Howitzer Brigade are firing this afternoon about eight miles away, and most of the officers have gone over there.
I had to go to Church Parade this morning in the tin tabernacle. A most awful little parson preached. He wore his wife’s fur stole round his neck. It may have been white once. Last Sunday afternoon I went to the Cathedral Service at Salisbury, and then had tea with some friends. Field Days. Colonel’s galloper.
June 22 1915.
“I had a most amazing journey last night. I caught the 9.50, from Paddington, and could not get further than Swindon, even with the help of a goods train. There I got a room at the local Railway Hotel, until 4.30, this morning, and then travelled by the early morning train to Heytesbury, arriving at 8.10 A.M. Today I have been Brigade Orderly Officer, and had the cleanliness of the camp to see to, and other similar duties, among them the inspection of prisoners in the cells. One is a trifle mad, and threatens to murder any one who goes near him. Tonight we are out picketing. Tomorrow there is an inspection by the General in preparation for Thursday, for rumour has it that the King and Kitchener are going to review us on that day. But I always doubt rumour. There is little news in the Times today, bar the War Loan.
Heytesbury Hole is just the same, 1only whiter with age and dust. The 17th Division are just arriving, so more dust.
The Colonel had been away fishing and is in a good mood.
June 23 1915.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week end at home. I had a long journey back via Swindon, where I spent the four midnight hours in the local Railway Hotel, and arrived at Heytesbury at 8 a.m. the next morning.
Tomorrow the King and Kitchener review us at Stonehenge, about fourteen miles from here. The whole Division will turn out. I am acting as Colonel’s Orderly Officer, so the Adjutant and I go by the saluting point together. I hope my mare does not run away with me. Tomorrow stables are at 4 a.m., and we start on our journey at 6.30 am. We shall be dusty when get there, unless it rains which it is trying to do now. The weather is on the change. The dust has been somewhat trying lately, covering everything with a white deposit. The day has been spent getting ready for tomorrow. Yesterday we spent the night, “picketing out” on the Plain.
The Divisional Horse Show is on Saturday. I am putting in my new mare.
They are still building huts here. The place may be completed after we have left.
Heytesbury is white with dust.
(Left Heytesbury on Tuesday afternoon, June 30th 1915).