War Diary of AA Laporte Payne
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda & Correspondence
September 6 1915.
R.A. Headquarters, 34th Division.
There are 4 officers on the Staff, and we have three cars, so we are all well off for transport. The General is Brig Gen F. Elmslie C.B., but is a dug out, and has already commanded the Artillery in another Division, but he was not allowed to go overseas with them. There are 23 Headquarter clerks and servants.
It is very cold and damp in camp. It rains most of the time. The whole Division is under canvas, 3500 horses, guns, wagons, & men.
I have got quite good groom and servant, and my two chargers arrive on Wednesday from Salisbury.
September 4 1915.
R.A.H.Q. 34th Div. Tidworth.
“I have the unfortunate job of Mess Secretary, and what with contractors putting up tents, grocery bills, wines, servants, my life would be wearisome indeed if it were not for the fun you can get out of it. It has been very cold lately. The band is playing China Town. I went to Salisbury the day before yesterday.
September 9 1915.
Really beautiful weather, I am leaving this afternoon for two days on business I shall be back on Saturday morning. I have two new horses, or rather mares, one chestnut and one bay. They are not so good as my last but still they are better than the rest of the chargers here. At least they are English and not Canadian. One is to be called Peg o’ my heart. She is chestnut, so the name suits, the ginger hair. Unfortunately last night she got unmercifully bitten by the other. What shall I do with such a cannibal? I see this morning news of a Zeppelin raid. It is most amusing here at times. The mules get loose and rush about camp at night, kicking all and sundry. The wasps are awful. The night before last two officers of our mess and a friend who was dining with us, turned out after dinner armed with a petrol can, some Daily Mails, electric torches, to burn out a nest situated just behind our servant’s tents. They had already tried to destroy it but had failed. These brave men, all recently returned from the front, were more frightened of wasps, I hope than they are of Germans, for they were scared. One with the Military Cross ribbon on his tunic more so than the others. He let us call him B.M., held the torch at a safe distance with G. still further in the distance offering wise advice but no help. The guest held a paper funnel at arms length. I, the very junior, tried to pour buckets of petrol down the hole, when out came the beasts, and hurled themselves at the lights and the onlookers. Alas! I was the only casualty, and retired with an arm like a real German sausage. A hither-to admiring crowd of servants around shrieked with delight. The morning after the wasps were as happy as ever. They probably thought that it was a remarkably fine and warm night for this time of year. We are never off duty here. At the moment I am supposed to be working out a scheme for a Divisional Concentration March, but I have got fed up with it. I must go and find the Vet for my horse, then to the Ordnance to draw some stores, then to Salisbury to get a saddle.
September 9 1915.
I obtained two chargers from the Remount Depot, Salisbury, two chargers, Nos, 3981 and 4028. They were certified by the Veterinary Officer as being “properly shod and free from Disease”. I went for them on the 8th September, and took them on charge on the following day.
(The first is a chestnut mare, and I named her Peg o’ my heart.)
Servant 12472 Gunner Ernest Thompson.
Religions in four Brigades of Artillery.
Church of England 3256
Roman Catholic 182
The following telegram has been received from War Office.
“223 S.T. Reference your 1100/A dated 9th instant A.A.A. War Office wires 4327 M.S.Q. appointment of 2nd Lieut. A.A. Laporte Payne, Royal Field Artillery, as Aide Camp to General Officer Commanding 34th Divisional Artillery has been approved with effect from 25 August 1915”.
This reference to your R.A. 4537 dated 7th instant.
Major. D.A.A. & Q.M.G.
16 September 1915.
September 23 1915.
There has been a field day today, and now it is pouring with rain. We move from here on October 1st, and bivouac on the road to Warminster. We take up our new quarters on the 2nd at Sutton Veny. This will prove our last move, I hope, before we go overseas. The Plain in the winter is too awful for words. I am thinking of motoring to Bournemouth on Sunday. We are having a series of dinner parties in the mess. The General asks in a lot of old fogies, and the conversation is most boring. You can imagine what agony I endure sometimes. The servants are quite raw, and I have to train them as best I can. They were miners a few months ago. They are much better now, but I am always anxious how the food is coming up, or whether the drinks or soda-water are running out. Housekeeping must be appalling, but usually one does not have six dishonest men doing away with every bit of food and all the drink they can lay their fingers on.
There are ladies to entertain too. The General’s wife and friends, and the Brigade Major’s mother and other relations, either for lunch or tea. The B.M. has brought a two-seater Humber. It is still raining. There is no whiskey, no soda-water and no fruit for tonight’s dinner party. Fancy going 14 miles to shop.