WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne April 1917

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne April 1917

 

Extracted from

 

Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda

Correspondence

—————–

APRIL THE FIRST, 1917.

The Colonel is out with the Corps Commander, and I am alone in the office. The weather is just as bad, cold and wet, and there is nothing very exciting to report.  I spent the morning visiting O.Ps and this afternoon in the office.

 

This note-paper is perfectly awful to write on. It is the sort of paper the French would use.  The florid decorations are getting on my nerves. (of the house)  I wonder if there is a perfectly plain house in France.  We have got a lot of new records.  Some of them are quite good.  The Colonel spends a deal of time playing them.

 

April 1917. (undated).

The 175th Army Field Brigade, R.F.A. was for ten days in the line as Left Group, New Zealand Division at Neuve Eglise.

 

April 3, 1917.

I may be able to get leave next week. If I don’t get away then I don’t know when I shall be able to do so, as leave will soon be stopped.  The weather is still abominable, thick snow yesterday.  We have to get our leave warrants from Corps, and the Colonel signed mine last night.

 

I am just off to the line to observe for a bombardment and I am keeping two officers waiting for me, and I have only half an hour left to get down there. We had a gas alarm last night, but it was a false one.

 

April 21, 1917.

Leave all over, and now only a dream. Nine days!  I got engaged.  I arrived this evening after two long days on the way.  Everything is as usual here.  We are still in the same place.  The horses are looking fit, but the Boche have dropped shells too near the stables.

 

It seems an age since I left on Thursday evening. I stayed the night at the Grosvenor Hotel, and was up at 6 a.m.  After breakfast I wandered into the station early hoping to get a corner seat, and quite forgot my usual precautions.  I had hardly got into the station when a creature wearing a major’s crown and a brass hat accosted me, and said rudely “Leave or duty?”  Like a fool I stammered “Leave”.  Whereupon he continued “I want you”, and gave me a paper.  I knew what that meant.  It informed me I was in charge of two to three hundred men for the journey across.  I was furious.  My party was detailed to go by the second train leaving about three quarters of an hour after the first by which I should have travelled.  Another officer and I travelled alone in a Pulman cursing our fate.  I had visions of marching miles to a rest camp outside Boulogne.  At Folkestone we arrived just in time to see the leave boat going out with the first train load, and that meant a day in Folkestone.  I marched the men to the Rest Camp, which was a tin enclosure surrounding a large number of houses on the  Lees.  Happily it was close to the pier.  There I left the wretched men, retained there like prisoners.  So does our staff treat its heroic soldiery!  I went into the town and called on a parson man who was at Cambridge when I was.  (Offer).  I had lunch with him.  I then called on General Marsh and family, whom I had not seen for a long time.  I found one daughter just married to a soldier, another ill, and one a war widow.  After that I went to tea with Mrs. Sherbrook, a dear old lady, the mother several officers, one of them a colonel of 29 years.  She was entertaining some wounded to tea.  One young fellow was wounded near us on the Somme, and had lost a leg, and was only just recovering from blindness, the result of shock.

 

I returned for my men at 5.15 p.m. The boat left about 6.30 p.m.  We had dinner on board, and I read “The Morals of Marcus Odeyne” by Locke.  At 8.45 p.m. we arrived at Boulogne, and I stayed at the Metropole Hotel with another fellow I knew.  Luckily I was able to hand over the men to some simpleton on the pier at Boulogne, so I did not have to march miles, and was free.  We started next morning at 9.45, a.m. and travelled via Calais, where we had two hours for lunch, St. Omer, Hazebrouck to within ten miles of my destination, and then rode up to Headquarters, arriving here at 8 p.m. this evening just in time for dinner.  The Colonel professed himself pleased to see me back.  He is in fairly good form, except for a cold.

 

Yesterday was a glorious day. I thought it would be fine as soon as I came away, but I don’t mind because I could not possibly have had a better time.  And now for another half year out here.  I wonder what it will bring forth.

 

R.P. April 22, 1917.

I arrived here quite safely last night in time for dinner at 8 p.m. I have had really a delightful few days at home with you all, and it was not at all pleasant having to return after such an enjoyable time.  It was the longest leave I have had for years, and it was good, giving me fresh energy to carry on for another few months.

 

I managed to get a bed at the Grosvenor Hotel and had breakfast at 6 a.m. then I got  a comfortable seat in the train, a corner one, and quite forgot my usual precautions with the result I was caught by the Railway Transport Officer, horrid man, and put in charge of 200 men returning to France. I had to give up my corner seat, and travel by Pulman in the second train with another officer, similarly caught, to Folkestone.  We managed to arrive there just in time to see the leave boat going out to sea.  Luckily the Rest Camp is not far away, and there I deposited my men, poor devils, until 5.30. p.m.  this is how a grateful country treats its heroes.  I had lunch with Offer, whom I knew at Cambridge, visited General Marsh and family, and had tea with Mrs. Sherbrook who was entertaining some wounded men.

 

We left at 6 p.m. It was a calm and uneventful crossing.  We arrived at Boulogne at 8.30 p.m., and I stayed the night at the Metropole, after I had handed the men over to someone else on the quayside.

 

The next morning I came up by train, lunching at Calais, where we had two hours.  I rode the last ten miles, and arrived just in time for dinner.  The Colonel said he was glad to see me back, again and certainly he is in good form.  It is probably the prospect of some exciting work soon.

 

We are still in the same place, but go out “to rest” in a day or two – the first time for over a year, and it probably means the same thing as it did then.

 

The weather is now beautifully fine, and my horses are looking fit and well, so what more can a fellow want.

 

April 26, 1917.

Now we are in the midst of a move, which I expected. I am going forward to do the billeting for the Brigade.  It is much better than travelling with the guns at a walk.

 

The weather is cold and dull here. Great trouble last night.  The Colonel’s horse broke loose from the stables over night, and can’t be found.  I have dozens of men out looking for the beastly thing.  The old boy is in a great rage.  Of course it is my fault.  When it is found he will be as quiet as a lamb until this evening he sees his mess bill, which I have just made up.

 

The Colonel has just come in, and one of my search party also returned with the news that the missing horse has been found. That will put him in a good temper.

 

I am just off to ride round the batteries, which are at present scattered.

 

The Boche had started shelling the place again, but he has not done much damage. The news will not be uninteresting long.

 

April 26, 1917.

We are on the move, and the next few days will find us in various places.

 

April 29, 1917.

Three days ago I went off in charge of a billeting party of six officers and twenty men with twenty six horses. All one day we travelled, found lovely billets for the Brigade and the next day waited for the batteries to turn up, which we expected would be about 4 p.m.  We waited until 6 p.m. when an orderly came to say the move was off and we were to return at once.  I had to see the Mayor, cancel the billets, get food for the horses and men, for we had relied on the Brigade coming up.  That was no easy thing at that time of day.  We were ready to move off about 8.30 p.m.  I phoned through from a town we were passing through to get permission to stay the night, and so save the horses and men a night journey, which was quite needless.  The horses were very tired.  The Colonel refused leave, and we had to push on.  We did about thirty miles, and arrived at 2 a.m. this morning.  I got up at 6 a.m. after less than four hours sleep, to get ready to move elsewhere.  It is now none o’clock, and we are just off.

Advertisements

9th Canadian Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 68

SECRET COPY NO.
Map Ref: VIMY 1/10,000
ROUVROY do

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 68
By
Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg

30.4.17
INFORMATION 1. The second stage of the operation detailed in O.O. 66 will be carried out at an early date. The objective will not include the village of ACHEVILLE but will run approximately as follows:-From C.1.b.6.5 (inclusive to XIII Corps) to C.25.central to U.19.a.0.4. to T.23.b.7.3. to T.17.d.5.5 (Junction of the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions).

2. Owing to existing conditions the attack will again take place at dawn.
In accordance with orders received from H.Q. Canadian Corps, a creeping barrage will be established every morning at about dawn throughout the extent of the Canadian Corps front, with the object of deceiving the enemy. The barrage to be distributed so as to simulate an attack from the Southern Corps boundary to MERICOURT and also on the enemy’s line opposite the 4th Canadian Division.

FEINT BARRAGE 3. Feint barrages will be established on the 1st and 2nd of May in accordance with Barrage Table attached

Zero Hour on 1st of May will be 4.20 a.m.
Zero Hour on 2 of May will be 4.25 a.m.

4. Watches will be synchronized with this office one hour before zero.

H.G. Carscallen
Lieut. Col
Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP
Issued at p.m.

To All Batteries

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 29 April 1917

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 29 April 1917

 

B.E.F.

April 29th 1917

 

 

My darling,

Just a hurried line to wish you every good wish for your birthday and many happy returns. I am afraid you won’t get this letter on the great day but I shall be thinking of you all the time.  I wish I could be with you to give you a birthday kiss or kisses.  You are 23 now – getting quite aged!  I wish I were 23 again (don’t I sound old?)

 

Thank you so much for the enclosed letter which I am returning. I hope you received safely the other letters I sent back a day or so ago.  I was awfully glad to get your letter of the 24th on my return.

 

Three days ago I went off in charge of a billeting party of 6 officers and 20 men with 26 horses. We travelled all one day – found lovely billets for the brigade and the next day waited for the batteries to turn up which we expected would be about 4 p.m.  We waited until six p.m. when an orderly came to say the move was off and we were to return at once.  I had to see the mayor, cancel billets, get food for the horses & men, for we had relied on the brigade coming up.  That was no easy thing at that time of day.  We were ready to move off about 8.30.  I phoned through from a town we were passing through to get permission to stay the night & so save the horses & men – the horses were very tired – it was refused and we had to push on.  We did about 30 miles and arrived at 2 a.m. this morning – I got 4 hours sleep & was up at 6 a.m. to get ready to move elsewhere.  It is now 9 o’clock, and we are just off –but I simply had to stop behind to write a line to you, darling, and send you my love and all good wishes for May 1.

 

I hope you are well and Mrs. Cross & that Mr. Cross is enjoying his holiday.

 

All my love darling & kisses (Extra special ones this time if possible)

Always your own

Archie.

 

Just off

 

9th Canadian Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 67 29 April 1917

SECRET                                                                                 COPY NO.

Ref: Map

VIMY 1/10,000

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 67

By

Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg

 

29.4.17

INFORMATION       1. Batteries of the Group will fire a barrage tomorrow morning on the enemy’s front system the map locations being the same as shown in Barrage Table issued with Operation Order No 66.

 

BARRAGES              2. At ZERO hour the group will establish a barrage in accordance with Barrage Table shown below.

 

ZERO                         3. ZERO hour will be 4.15 (four fifteen) a.m. April 30th 1917.

 

SYNCHRONIZATION

  1. Watches will be synchronized with this office one hour before zero.

 

BARRAGE TABLE

                                                                                                                                   

Battery                                    TIME                                                  BARRAGE

From   To

                                                                                                                                   

All 18-pdrs                  00.00  0.02      New Trench (See line 1 Barrage Table O.O. 65)

0.02    0.06      Add 100 yards

0.06    0.10      Trench (See line 3 Barrage Table O.O. 65)

0.10    0.14      Trench (See line 4 Barrage Table O.O. 65)

0.14    0.18      Add 100 yards

0.18 Onwards New Trench (See line 1 Barrage Table O.O. 65)

 

All 4.5 Hows.              0.00 Onwards             Similar to Barrage Table O.O. 66

 

RATES OF FIRE

 

0.00     0.18     Normal

0.18 Onwards 2 rounds gun fire

 

AMMUNITION

 

18-pdrs             “A”

H.G. Carscallen

Lieut. Col

Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP

Issued at   p.m.

 

To all Batteries

9th Canadian Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 66 27 April 1917

SECRET                                                                                 COPY NO.

REF: Map VIMY

1/10,000

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 66

By

Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Commanding

 

27.4.17

INFORMATION       1. The Operation detailed in O.O. 65 will now be carried out in two stages:-

 

FIRST STAGE

Capture and consolidation of ARLEUX and SUNKEN ROAD in T.27.d. and b. by the 1st Canadian Division in conjunction with the attack on OPPY by the XIII Corps.  Approximate line of objective will be from B.6.d.central to T.23.d.8.2.

The 2nd Canadian Division has been ordered to form a defensive flank from W.23.d.9.2. to connect with the Right Flank of the 3rd Canadian Division at about T.17.d.2.5.

 

SECOND STAGE

Capture FRESNOY and ACHEVILLE and the line of trenches connecting them.

This stage will be carried out as soon as the wire on line can be adequately cut.

The 3rd Canadian Division has been ordered to prolong the defensive flank from T.17.d.5.5. through T.17.a.5.2. and T.16.b.5.3. to the present front line in T.16.a.

The 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade will on Y/Z night before zero hour improve and occupy new line T.17.d.5.5. to T.16.a. and hold it as a defensive flank during the operations.  Touch will be maintained with the 2nd Canadian Division (5th Canadian Infantry Brigade) about T.17.d.5.5.

 

ARTILLERY             2. The 1st and 2nd C.D.A. and Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Double Groups C.C.H.A. will directly support the operations of the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions.

The 3rd C.D.A. and Reserve D.A. assisted by No 4 Group (Double) will carry out a simulated attack on their respective fronts.

 

BARRAGE                3. At Zero hour the Group will establish a barrage in support of a simulated attack in accordance with barrage table attached.

 

ZERO                         4. Zero Hour will be 4.25 a.m. April 28th 1917.

 


 

SYNCHRONIZATION

  1. Watches will be synchronized with this office one hour before ZERO.

 

 

 

H.G. Carscallen

Lieut. Col

Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP

Issued at       p.m.

 

Copy No 2 to O.C. 32nd Battery

3 to O.C. 33rd Battery

4 to O.C. 39th Battery

5 to O.C. 45th Battery

6 to O.C. 36th Battery

7 to O.C. 43rd Battery

8, 9, & 10 WAR DIARY

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 26 April 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 26 April 1917.

 

B.E.F.

France

April 26th 1917

 

My own Dearest,

 

Thank you so very much for your two letters and the enclosed photos and letters which I am returning to you. I hope you have received my letter by now.

 

The photos were very good but I am very sorry that the others did not come out. I should have liked to have one of you and me together – you must tell Mrs Lowe (or may I call her ‘Tom’?) that she can’t take photos – please thank her for the photo of the baby – it is an excellent one – and he looks very fine & jolly.

 

I do hope your cold is better. You must get rid of it soon.  It was my fault rushing you about such a lot.

 

I was much amused at Mrs. Gardner’s letter what a wonderfully clever woman she must be to have known it for “months & months & months”. No wonder the dear lady hated me.  Please, what is a woman’s intuition?

 

The time is going fast isn’t it? the  lovely time I had at home was all too short, which was probably a good thing for you for I am sure you would have been too tired to go on at that pace.  Now we are in the midst of the move I expected to take place when I was away.  I am going forward to do the billeting for the Brigade – it is much better than travelling with the guns at a walk.

 

I, too, am finding it awfully difficult to settle down – but I must or things are bound to go wrong. I can hardly realise now that it was all true that glorious time – perhaps you can because you are in the same surroundings – but mine are absolutely different.  I am living now for the next leave.  I wonder when it will be and whether I shall be as nervous next time as I was when I called on you first last leave.

 

I hear you are sitting in the Vicarage pew again last Sunday. I am so sorry for you having to face alone all the congratulatory creatures of Finchley.  I feel an awful coward.  It is very nice being congratulated about you but unless the people are very nice I always want to say “What do you know about her or me”.

 

I hope you will have a really successful concert the day after tomorrow, mind you tell me all about it. I am glad Mrs Cross & mother are going together.  It will do mother good to get away for a bit from the parish.

 

I suppose you & Mrs Cross are alone now. You will have a quiet time recovering from last week and getting ready for your work on the land.

 

Is the weather still bad with you? It is very cold & dull here to-day.  The weather is cold and dull here.  Awful trouble this morning the Colonel’s horse broke loose from the stalls overnight and can’t be found.  I have dozens of men out looking for the beastly thing.  The old boy is in an awful rage – of course it is my fault!!  He will probably be as quiet as a lamb until this evening he sees his mess bill, which I have just made up.

 

Well, darling mine, I do wish I could have that week all over again. It seems such ages ago & ages since I saw you.  I must console myself with thoughts of you and your precious letters.  When are you going to discuss things with me.  I remember you saying that you used to do so with another man – why not me?   You know how jealous I am and how much I long to possess all of you – body, mind and soul.  I shall not be satisfied until I do.

 

I am writing this in my bedroom to avoid interruptions & the noise of telephones. The Colonel has just come in, and one of my search party has returned to say that the missing horse has been found – which has put him in a good temper.

 

I will write more this evening if I return in time. I am just off now on a ride round the batteries I am just off to ride round the batteries, which are at present scattered.  I don’t suppose I shall be back until dark.

 

The Boche had started shelling the place again, but he has not done much damage. The news is not very exciting yet, but I don’t suppose it will be uninteresting long.

 

How is the “Mountain” behaving? She seemed very nice I thought.  My servant is a treasure and he keeps my things very well indeed.

 

Please give my love to Mrs Cross & with all my fondest love to you darling and my kisses – though paper ones

Ever

Your own

Archie.

 

 

 

 

 

Message from Army Corps Commander 25 April 1917

Message from Army Corps Commander 25 April 1917

 

G229

 

The following letter has been received from the Army Corps Commander, and in publishing it, the G.O.C. wishes to add his appreciation of the splendid work done by all ranks.

 

G.O.C. 51st (Highland) Division.

 

I wish to express to the Division through you my congratulations on the splendid work which they have done in the recent fighting, especially on Monday 23rd April.

 

Though we failed to gain all we hoped to get, it must be remembered that the enemy put forth his utmost strength against us in artillery, machine guns and fresh highly-trained troops. In spite of this, we made substantial progress and inflicted heavy losses on him.

 

Had it not been for the fine fighting spirit of the Division, the result might easily have been disadvantageous to us. I am proud and delighted with the Division, as they may well be themselves with the grand fight they put up; and I know that when they are rested and re-organised they will be keen to add to their reputation.

 

(Sgd) CHARLES FERGUSSON

Lieut General.

Commanding,

XVII Corps.