War Diary of AA Laporte Payne
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
9th July 1917
R.P. July 9 1917.
I am fit and well. We are on the move again. At present we are living in tents, and may be under canvas for the next week.
The weather is shocking again. It has been pouring with rain all last night and today, so the ground is mud again.
July 9 1917.
It is our last night in this area, I hope for ever. To this part of the line we came first from England, and here we have been the whole time with the exception of five months on the Somme.
Now tomorrow morning I leave at 7.30, a.m. in charge of the advance billeting party. I am not sorry, except that I do not suppose we shall ever be so comfortable as we have been the last week or so after a battle which was enhartening.
You may be able to guess where we are going.
I think we are getting just a little tired of this war, of spending the best years of our lives in the way we do. War is not quite like a cinema show at the Scala with tea at Fullers afterwards.
The weather has been horrid the last few days. Thunderstorms with torrential rain has turned the place into a bog. I hope it will be fine tomorrow for our trek.
The French countryside is quite unlike England. There are few hedges, the trees are tall and skinny. The roads, often made of pave, are straight and very uninteresting. The inhabitants never look clean except on Sundays. The women generally are ugly, but the town girl often dresses extremely well. Houses we think ugly too, and the decorations appalling. For the rest we only see khaki everywhere with lorries, and lorries and still more lorries, mixed up in inextricable confusion with horses, which overflow into the fields. Behind the lines there are many beings absent further forward, immaculate staff officers in gorgeous uniforms and perfect breeches, with their associates the A.S.C. All these live in the greatest comfort on the fat of the land. Receive higher pay and allowances, and obtain more leave than the soldier. I wonder why it is? Their air of superiority too, is most marked, no doubt due to the greater allowance of ration decorations. Of such are the dwellers in chateaux.
Occasionally you see an English girl in white and blue, with red capes. Such are nurses, and they look competent and pleasant in their uniforms. But there are other extraordinary get-ups, and apparently they thought they were soldier for they took to saluting officers. But when the Scottish started to return their salutes by curtseying, they gave it up in disgust.
Such are my impressions of being behind the line. Fortunately we do not get much of it. they could not bear our disagreeable presences for very long.
I hear that London has been bombed again. It will do them a lot of good. As long as you at home are not bombed I don’t mind. There will be, no doubt, a great out-cry again about retaliation and so forth. Just because the shouters live in England they think they are under the special care of heaven, and that no one should dare to intrude let alone bomb them. And like the Israelites of old they will murmur against the authorities for allowing such things to happen. They being generally immune from such outrages forget what the French have to put up with daily. The “Daily Wail” and suchlike papers would be quite amusing if their frightened squeals were not so pitiable.
That’s off my chest. Forgive it. as you observe I am in a very bad temper.