War Diary of AA Laporte Payne
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
16th July 1917
R.P. July 16,1917.
Since I last wrote we have moved to quite a new place. We were five days on the road, and travelled mostly at night, arriving at our destination usually at about 11 a.m. Then we had to make our camp, water and feed the horses and what not. So we get very little sleep. As the Major is still away I am in command of the Battery.
The day we arrived behind the line here we got into camp at 9 a.m. Then I had to accompany the Colonel to reconnoitre battery positions. We moved into action that night, which meant spending the whole [day] making gun pits. In the morning I had to go to the O.P. to register the guns.
Since we moved into the line we have been living in the open in a cornfield with no shelters at all for anybody for two days. To add to the discomfort it has poured with rain the whole time, and the mosquitoes and sand flies have added to our misery. The men are very tired; but we are still going strong.
Today is a perfect day. I should like a bathe.
To Staff Captain, R.A.
(A.M.S. 4th Army 146/35.)
Acting Captain ARCHIBALD ALDRIDGE LAPORTE PAYNE is recommended for promotion to Temporary Captain.
Lt. Col., R.A.
Commanding 175th Brigade R.F.A.
July 16, 1917.
We have completed our move. For five days or rather nights we travelled along the roads of France going steadily north. Usually we started at 1 a.m., arriving at our destination each day at 11 a.m. Then we made our camp, watered and fed and groomed the horses. Our next business was to ascertain and allot billets before the Brigade arrived. After dinner we packed in readiness for our next stage on the journey that night.
We arrived at this place at 9 a.m., and I was immediately ordered to accompany the Colonel to reconnoitre battery positions, which took us all day. That night we moved into action. Building rough gun-pits occupied the whole night. The positions were and are in open fields. The next day I spent in the Observation Post registering the guns. Two following days were spent in a similar fashion. The Major is still away, so I had to take the Battery into action.
For the first two nights in our new position we lived and had our being in a soft corn field run to seed, with no cover at all, either from the enemy or the weather. To add to our miseries it poured with rain during the night time. I slept in a “two-men” shelter with one of the subalterns. The thing is like an inverted V, so low that your nose stuck into the canvas top, so short that if your head was underneath feet stuck out at the other end. The Boche, sand-flies, and mosquitoes complete our tale of woe. Eating our meals and compiling daily returns for H.Q., importing ammunition, stores and what not, and urging the gunners to fresh efforts nightly to construct some sort of gun platforms in pitch darkness, all these things are enough to try the tempers of more saintly creatures than we are.