War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 9 July 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

Extracted from

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

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.

 

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A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 9 July 1917

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 9 July 1917

 

B.E.F.

July 9th 1917

 

My dearest,

 

It is our last night in this area – I hope for ever. I came here first from England and in this neighbourhood I have been the whole time with the exception of the Somme – and I have been in every part of the line in it – and now tomorrow morning I leave at 7.30, a.m. in charge of the advance party.  I am not at all sorry except that I don’t suppose we shall ever be so comfortable as we have been the last week or so.  At any rate we finished off well with the last push.

 

You may be able to guess where we are going.

 

Thank you so much for your two letters. I was very glad to hear that you are well and not too bored although a little homesick at times.  I am rather glad really that you have had that feeling so that you can sympathise with us.  But it is no good grousing is it?  I think I am getting a bit fed up with spending the best time in ones life in this fashion.  War is not exactly like a cinema show at the Scala with tea at Fullers afterwards.

 

I hope you both enjoyed Mrs Cross’ visit I shall be very interested to hear what arrangements you have made. You will be leaving Eardiston soon I suppose.

 

The weather has been perfectly horrid the last few days. I hope you have had better.  Thunderstorms and torrential rain has made this place in a beastly mess.  I hope it will be fine tomorrow for our trek.

 

England must be looking perfectly lovely now.  There is no place like it.  The French countryside is absolutely different.  There are very few hedges, the trees are tall and skinny and the roads mostly pave are straight and very uninteresting.  The inhabitants never look clean except on Sundays, the women are generally very ugly but the town girl very often dresses extraordinarily well.  The houses are ugly and decorations appalling.  The rest of what you see when you come out of the line is khaki everywhere, lorries, and lorries and still more lorries –  horses everywhere – in every field – and of course staff and other things in gorgeous uniforms and perfect breeches called A.S.C.  These & such like inhabit the chateaux of the land.  Occasionally you see an English girl in white & blue with red capes – the nurses.  They look awfully nice in their uniforms – but there are other extraordinary get ups and apparently they thought they were soldiers for they took to saluting officers.  But when the Scotch officers took to returning their salutes by curtseying, they gave it up in disgust.

 

Please forgive my very uninteresting “impressions” of France as seen by the jaundiced eye of a superior and sarcastic field gunner.

 

I hear that London has been bombed again.  It will do them a lot of good.  As long as you at home don’t get bombed I don’t mind.  I suppose there will be a thunderous out-cry again about retaliation and so forth.  Just because people live in England the dear things think they are specially favoured of heaven and no one should touch them let alone bomb them.  They can’t think of thousands of fellows killed by the Boche and the many French towns bombed by them – all without a murmur against the authorities for allowing such things.  The “Daily Wail” & other papers would be quite amusing if it were not so pitiable.

 

There now that’s off my chest. Forgive it.  As you can see I am in a very bad temper.  The only person to cure me is you – and as I can’t see you now I must go on being in a bad temper.

 

Give my love to Mrs Cross when you write.

With all my fondest love to you darling and many kisses

Ever your

Arch.