War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 20 October 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

20th October 1917

October 20, 1917.

Brigade Headquarters.

Here I am as I feared and foretold. I am in the unenviable position of having to try and act as Battery Commander and Adjutant.  Both the Major and the Adjutant are away on leave, and I only am left a remnant in Israel! this land of bondage.

 

Since I last wrote I have been up at the gun line, and running like a frightened hare between battery and Brigade Headquarters. I have had a lovely time!  Not even shelling can distract me now.

 

At the moment the Boche is shelling us. The moan of the shells is like what I imagine lost souls make, and the burst like the splash and shake of their arrival in hell, a splash like the one the All Highest, Kaiser Bill, would assuredly wish to make wherever he goes, and the buzz of the splinter bits, like the annoyances expressed by the previous occupants at being joined by a greater fiend than they.  He would certainly make them do the goose step.

 

I am reading a book by Augustine Birrell, called “Selected Essays”.

 

How is England?  Are you all provided with tin hats and dug-outs now?  I wish we had some of the latter here, but any attempt to dig is like Moses striking the rock, water gushes forth.

 

The wretched telephone has been going all day. There is considerable movement in transport on the road tonight, and I have been afraid of my gees getting damaged on the way.  However it is alright, they are all safely gathered in, and tucked up for the night as long as the Hun does not shell the wagon line.  One officer made his way across country in the dark with no light to avoid the road and fell into an enormous shell hole full of water.

 

The Colonel has just wandered in to the mess in his pyjamas, and asked me to see to something so I close.

 

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A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 20 October 1917

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 20 October 1917

 

Brigade Headquarters.

20.X.17.

 

My own darling,

 

Tonight I really must get a line off to you. What a lot I have to thank you for.  Letters – lovely letters and a box of the most delicious walnuts.  Thank you ever so much, dear.

 

I have been atrociously busy. I am in the unenviable position of having to try and act as Battery Commander and Adjutant.  Both the Major and the Adjutant are away on leave and I only I am left a remnant in Israel! Or rather the land of bondage.

 

Since I last wrote I have been up at the Gun line and then running like a frightened hare between Battery and Brigade Headquarters – oh!  I have had a lovely time – even shelling can’t distract me now!

 

No, dearest, I had not realised that we had been engaged six months. It seems much longer owing to this continued and damnable war – only the leaves have gone quickly.  You will soon realise that I have no head at all for dates and periods.  I can never remember a number.  I am full of shortcomings, as no doubt you are beginning to realise.

 

Please forgive spelling mistakes – I can’t spell tonight. If Hilly gets much ‘higher’ he will begin to – smell – won’t he?  No I don’t think His Lordship of Willesden at all interesting.

 

I have looked through your correspondence and I can’t find a letter of Sept 25th.  did it contain anything special you wanted to know?

 

You do seem to be having a good time. I wish I could be with you too.

 

At the moment the Boche is shelling us – the moan of the shells is really like what I imagine lost souls would make and the burst like the splash and shake of their arrival in – a splash similar to the one the Kaiser would make – and the buzz of the bits like the annoyance expressed by the occupants at being disturbed by a greater fiend than they. How imaginative I am tonight.

 

Don’t dream again like that one you described in your letter of Oct 14th or rather I should say don’t get so much that disagrees with you.  You ought to become a Mrs H.G. Wells!

 

I am so sorry ‘Idols’ disagreed with Mrs Cross. I hope she is better now in every way.

 

Yes! I do remember the night at Eastbourne when you had your own way – the only occasion indeed!  There are heaps of other ways of getting what you want.  I thought you very spiteful at the time – there now!

 

You may chuckle. I never do anything so vulgar!!

 

Has Mrs Cross got over her presentiments yet? And who was the man?  I am so sorry you were disappointed.

 

Thank Mr Paice and the Jacksons for me for their tender enquiries and say how I reciprocate them (is that right, oh! paragon of etiquette?) Let me P’s initials & address

 

Your book by sapper I read and enjoyed and it was stolen by the major and taken by him on leave – the wretch. I am very angry – oh by the bye did I thank you for it.  I have so much to thank you for that I forget half of them.

 

I have a book by Augustine Birrell, called “Self Selected Essays” which I want to read sometime. I remember meeting his cousin O. Locker Lampson at Salisbury once.  I don’t care for the author much – he is a Haldane type.

 

How is England?  Are you all provided with tin hats and dug-outs yet?  I wish we had some of the latter here.

 

The beastly telephone has been going all the time I have been writing – hence the jumble. There is a bit of movement tonight in transport and I have been afraid of my chickens getting damaged – however they are alright now.  “All is safely gathered in”

– only one officer made his way across country in the dark with no light and fell into an enormous shell hole full of water.

 

I must close now and send a line to mother – or she will be getting annoyed with her naughty boy.

 

With love to you all

(By the bye you did not enclose “the note – such a “nice one” which I presume was from Mrs Cross – I am very angry with you. It is what I have been wanting!)

& with all my best love to you

& many kisses

Ever your

Arch.

 

The Col has just come in in his pyjamas & asked me what I was doing – I said writing private letters – & he smiled a smile and went out.

 

 

A Smith Field Post Card 19 October 1917

FIELD SERVICE POST CARD

 

To T. Smith, 24 Palmerston Rd, Bowes Park, The Anchor, 1 Bankside Southwark London.  Postmarked Field Post Office 20.  21 OC 17 also Wood Green *.45 PM 24 OCT 17.

 

I am quite well

I have received your letter dates Oct 11th Regd.

Letter follows at first opportunity.

 

Signature only. A. Smith  Date  Oct 19th 17

 

F Smith letter 19 October 1917

Green envelope letter. To Mr. A.E. Smith, 152, High Street, Southend on Sea. Essex. England. Postmarked Field Post Office 20. 21 OC 17.
Oct 19th 17
My Dear Albert,
I expect you are wondering when you are going to hear from me but this is the first opportunity for sometime. I was glad to receive your interesting letter.
We have been on the move lately, & spent two days in the line it was like hell itself but thank God I got through safely we are now out for a few days & have got to go up again you can bet I am not looking forward to it but the sooner we go & get it over the better.
Well now to answer some of the news in your letter. For a start I hope you have not had any more air raids they have been very busy lately. How is Affie & Joy I suppose they are still away & I hope quite well I will write to her again the first opportunity but have got so many letters to answer at present so please give them my best love when you write.
Well old boy how are all the alterations going I can guess what a lot of inconvenience it must make for you & a moving job as well but I should think a house will be much better for you when you get settled; I only wish I was at home to help you. Your description of the house &c sounds fine I only wish I could come home at once I don’t like the thoughts of a winter out here it is very rough already with so much wet.
There is a regd letter from Father probably a ten shilling note but have not got it yet as we have to apply to the post sgt. For it. It is very good of you to mention about sending some more goodies but do not trouble while you have so much to do as I know what a rushing time you have old chap I am hoping to have done our bit & be out for a rest again in a week or a bit longer & I shall be able to enjoy them then.
You will have a jolly fine garden it will be nice for Joyse couldn’t we make it look fine with fish ponds &c we must do some more fishing next summer.
What do you think about this D—war as you say it seems as though it will never end.
How is Ansell & all other friends whom I know give them my best wishes.
Please excuse more news now as there is several more letters I want to answer & it is parades nearly every five minutes of the day.
Glad to say I am quite well but rather fed up with everything at present. I trust you are all in the best of health & not overworking yourself.
With much love from
Your devoted
Brother

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 16 October 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

16th October 1917

R.P. October 16, 1917.

The weather is atrocious. It is blowing and raining hard.  I have just returned to the wagon lines from a trip down south to the scene of big things.  I came back in a fast car belonging to the R.N.A.S.  We got in about 10.30 p.m., and found everyone abed.

 

I have just finished reading “The Faith and the War” edited by Foakes Jackson. I was very interested, but it will not be read much as it is difficult reading.

 

A discovery interesting from an archaeological point of view has been brought to light this week near Gaza a mosaic of Bishop George, the patron Saint of England, A.D. 561.  It was excavated in a portion of captured Turkish trenches under fire by ANZACS.  The circumstances are interesting.  If we lived in ancient or medieval times it would be deemed a good omen or a sign from God that we shell ultimately conquer.  May it be so.

 

The Boche is making a horrid noise to night.

 

Now we are trying to settle down for the winter. I do not like the idea of spending it just here.  We may of course be moved.  You never know what may happen at a moment’s notice.  There is a great demand for stoves.

 

October 16, 1917.

Twenty minutes ago I returned to my shanty, where I am living alone again. Since I last wrote I have left Headquarters, and have been away down south to the town, or rather what was a town, and I have just returned to find much correspondence.

 

I believe today is the 16th.  I have no one to ask.  I had dinner in Dunkerque, and then came back in a car with two R.N.A.S. fellows.  Those fellows can drive, especially after a good dinner.

 

It is blowing hard and raining again.

 

A noise has worried me at times here. It is very faint and far away, but seems to get into my head.  At first I did not know whether it was only in my head or not.  It sounds like the noise made by rubbing a wet finger on the edge of a tumbler only much shorter in length.  I have found out what it is.  The noise is made by a bell buoy out at sea some distance away.  It is a gloomy sound and most monotonous.

 

Would you mind sending out to me the Times Literary Supplement, and the Bookman. If you should see any good articles in the Nineteenth Century, the Hibbert Journal, or the Quest, would you let me have them.  As the winter comes on and the winter evenings are long and dreary I must have something to read, and novels usually bore me to tears.

 

I read Blackwoods every month. It is usually excellent.

 

October 20, 1917.

Brigade Headquarters.

Here I am as I feared and foretold. I am in the unenviable position of having to try and act as Battery Commander and Adjutant.  Both the Major and the Adjutant are away on leave, and I only am left a remnant in Israel! this land of bondage.

 

Since I last wrote I have been up at the gun line, and running like a frightened hare between battery and Brigade Headquarters. I have had a lovely time!  Not even shelling can distract me now.

 

At the moment the Boche is shelling us. The moan of the shells is like what I imagine lost souls make, and the burst like the splash and shake of their arrival in hell, a splash like the one the All Highest, Kaiser Bill, would assuredly wish to make wherever he goes, and the buzz of the splinter bits, like the annoyances expressed by the previous occupants at being joined by a greater fiend than they.  He would certainly make them do the goose step.

 

I am reading a book by Augustine Birrell, called “Selected Essays”.

 

How is England?  Are you all provided with tin hats and dug-outs now?  I wish we had some of the latter here, but any attempt to dig is like Moses striking the rock, water gushes forth.

 

The wretched telephone has been going all day. There is considerable movement in transport on the road tonight, and I have been afraid of my gees getting damaged on the way.  However it is alright, they are all safely gathered in, and tucked up for the night as long as the Hun does not shell the wagon line.  One officer made his way across country in the dark with no light to avoid the road and fell into an enormous shell hole full of water.

 

The Colonel has just wandered in to the mess in his pyjamas, and asked me to see to something so I close.

 

R.P. October 24, 1917.

The Colonel and I are alone at Headquarters. I forgot the Doctor.  He is of course here too.  There is no signals officer or orderly officer.  A new signals officer arrives tomorrow.  It means that I have to see to the whole of the work at Headquarters as well as keep an eye on the Battery.  It is a bit of a strain, especially as the Boche has been very aggressive lately.  There has been no mail for three days, which is sad.  It is very cold in my office.  There is no fire there.  The sign of smoke is to be carefully avoided if you wish to live in peace.

 

The office was in a mess when I came in. I have insisted on having every paper carefully sorted away and indexed.  Today I have dealt with no less than two hundred separate memorandums, papers and returns.  This is a paper war, thanks to our precious staff.  I know that half is never read by the battery officers.  There is no time.

 

Here is an example of the Staff’s belief in the powers of the parson at home. What faith!  Here is a reply I have just received from Corps Headquarters with regard to a man’s application for special leave consequent upon serious difficulties and trouble in his family circle.

 

“Numerous societies etc. exist for the purpose of giving assistance and advice in such cases, and a letter to one of them or to the clergyman of the man’s parish would probably be effective.”

 

French news from the Aisne is encouraging.  I hope success continues.

 

There is a howling gale blowing this evening. It is omnipresent in a room with no windows.  Papers fly all over the place as if possessed.

 

October 24, 1917.

B.H.Q.

What a night! The wind is howling about our old farmstead; but no doubt you know that too, just over the narrow seas.

 

Here there is only the Colonel and the Doctor on Headquarters now. The Signal Officer, the Orderly Officer, and the Camouflage Officer have all left.  A new “Signals” comes tomorrow.  The Colonel is a Colonel, and the Doctor is a doctor, and an Irishman and a Roman Catholic with rather pronounced ideas and a tender skin; he also has crude notions about history and literature.  So we have not much in common.  However we do not see much of each other.  I spend the whole day in the office now, I regret to say.

 

This evening I was in my bedroom, also the office, having a bath in a canvas bucket, when I has no less than five telephone calls in three minutes, all demanding my attendance at the receiver in a state of cold nudity.

 

There has been no English mails for three days, which is rather boring.

 

The French are going strong on the Aisne.  Good luck to them.

 

October 28, 1917.

I am shivering with the cold. The Doctor is writing home, and ends with “I am too cold to write any more.  Au revoir.”  He goes and sits by the fire.

 

It is about tea time, and I have left my combined office, boudoir and bedroom, which is much too draughty. The mess is not much better, but a fire has just been lit, as it is now dark.  Through a side window, which is without its glass, I can see the silhouette of a farm house a short way away.  It is the home of a 60 pdr. battery, and they are now being heavily shelled with 5.9 Howitzer shells.  I hope the enemy battery does not switch a few minutes more left.

 

The doctor keeps interrupting me as I write, asking me to listen to jokes in a paper he is reading. I do detest people who persist in reading out extracts from papers one can read for oneself when one wants to, especially when you are doing something else.

 

After strenuous efforts the Doctor managed to mend the old gramophone last night. So to sooth us we had music (?) from “Bubly” and “Zig-zag”.  We needed something to cheer us.  Soon after we were heavily shelled.

 

I see poor old Trevor Pearse had been wounded. I hope not seriously.  Well! I suppose one cannot go on for ever in the front line.

 

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

 

B.E.F.

16 ? October 1917

 

My darling,

 

Twenty minutes ago I returned to my shanty, where I am living alone again. – Since I wrote to you last I have left Headquarters and have been away down south to the town or rather what was a town, and I have just returned; to find a lovely pile of correspondence – two dear letters from you and some delightful sweets – and the book.  Thank you so much dearest – but you must stop you are sending much too much in the way of letters and parcels – you know you spoil me dreadfully.

 

I have an idea that to-day must be the 16th.  I am not sure, and I have no one to ask.  Everybody was in bed when I got back.  I had dinner in a place beginning with a D and then came back in a car with 2 R.N.A.S. fellows.  Some of those fellows can drive – especially after a good dinner.

 

It is blowing hard and raining again. I should like to know how many days in the year it rained.

 

A noise has worried me at times here. It is very faint and far away, but seems to get into my head.  At first I did not know whether it was only in my head or not.  It sounds like rubbing a wet finger on a tumbler only much shorter in length.  It is a bell buoy some distance away. Eureka! But it is very monotonous.

 

Did not ‘No Man’s Land’ come out in some magazine. I have been looking through its pages and I am sure I have read ‘The Man Traps’ and ‘Morphia’ somewhere else.  Did you read it all?  It is extraordinarily clever I think.  Thank you for allowing me to keep the ‘Student in Arms’ for a time.  I want to lend it to one or two fellows.  You had better buy yourself a new copy and put it on my book bill.  I hope you are keeping an account of the books you are sending me, because if you don’t I shall feel bound to send them back in good condition which I cannot always guarantee.

 

Why are you so afraid of my laughing at you? Why should you think that I looked annoyed at something or another.  I can’t think what puts all these things into your head.  It must be my fault for I must have given you a very wrong impression.  I am very sorry and I must try and mend my ways.  Perhaps I shall learn in time.

 

What a long bike ride you had with Evelyn. I wish I could have been there too.  You must be having much better weather than we are to get a bike ride nowadays.

 

Mrs Cross does not seem to be at all well lately – what with headaches and neuralgia – please give her my love & tell her she must get better forthwith. I am very sorry for her.

 

You are keeping quite fit and well – all spots gone – I hope. How is Mr Cross? – still carrying on at the station.

 

I remember hearing Jane Harrison – Fellow of Newnham, lecture at Cambridge and I have read some of her articles – she had a fight once with Gordon Selwyn – fellow of Corpus and now Warden of Radley – a literary fight I mean – and the blows were in pamphlet form.  Don’t believe all you read in Jane Harrison by a long way.

 

In your next letter you might give me Manning’s initials (the Rector of High Barnet) if you don’t mind.

 

Maude does not seem to want to return home again. It looks as if she never would get away.

 

If I could rely on you to send me the bill and if it were not troubling you too much I should ask you to send me out the Times Literary Supplement and the Bookman (monthly I think). If you do please let me know how much it is with the copies or else I shall return them unread.  If you should see any good articles in the Nineteenth Century, the Hibbert Journal, or the Quest when you are looking at a bookstall I should be glad of any such.  See how I rely on you and how much I am worrying you!  As the winter comes on and the evenings are long and dreary I must have something to read, and novels usually are too much for me.

 

Have you another photo of yourself – the one I like best – to keep for me when I return – your photos are getting so dirty here but they will do for active service – everything gets filthy in no time.

 

I read the Political Article in Blackwoods this month and thought it was very good. Do you read the magazine every month?

 

I must dry up now or I shall be asking you to do something else and you will be so annoyed with me.

 

So glad to hear that Betsy is not being choked with smoke any more.

 

Much love to you my darling,

& many kisses

Ever your

Arch; Divl.

Report on Raid of October 14th 1917 by RWK 15 October 1917

Report on Raid of September October 14th 1917

 

Composition of Raiding Party

 

No 5 Party       (Right Flank)

No 6 Party

No 7 Party

No 8 Party       (Left Flank)

 

Party Sectors as per attached Sketch Map.

 

The Raiders began to form up in our Front Line at ZERO minus 45 minutes and all were in assembly positions by ZERO minus 10 minutes. During this period the German artillery was practically silent.  Our barrage started promptly at ZERO.  German barrage started to come down at ZERO plus 3 minutes, but was only light at first, all raiders were clear of our front line by that time.  The attack was carried out as during practice, both waves went over in distinct and maintained formation.  Communication was established on both flanks immediately.  O.C. Raid (Captain L.C.R. Smith) took over a wire with him which was established in the German Front Line.  One message was received from him, despatched at ZERO plus 7 minutes, saying “All objectives carried, prisoners coming in.”  This wire was out about ZERO plus 10 minutes.

 

No 5 Party.  (2nd Lieut. H.G.B. Slade) reports, Germans put up a slight resistance to us entering their front line, using a light Machine Gun covered by Bombers.  They were engaged by snipers and rushed.  A large number (about 40) of Germans ran back, followed closely by our leading wave which stopped at the German support line.  They were engaged with rifle fire and suffered heavy casualties from this and our protective barrage.  The German trenches and wire were almost obliterated.  Traces of BAKER TRENCH were found and a patrol pushed down it about 150 yards.  No Trench Mortar emplacements or dugouts could be traced in this trench.  Two dugouts were demolished about O.8.d.55.60 (German support line) and O.8.d.45.80. (German front line).  A Machine Gun emplacement was demolished about O.8 d.45.95.  Germans appeared thoroughly demoralised and many dead were seen.  The body of a man of the 163rd I.R. was found near junction of BADGER TRENCH and German front line.  This party sent back 10 prisoners including an officer.

 

No 6 Party.  (2nd Lieut. R.E. Davy, wounded) reports, a Machine Gun was firing whilst forming up in No Man’s Land from the direction of BOIS DU VERT.  firing high, no casualties from it.  No resistance encountered in either objective.  A dugout was found about O.8.b.50.15. (German front line) many Germans inside refused to come out – it was demolished.  About 20 Germans were seen to run back from the German front line and were caught by our barrage.  A patrol of 1 N.C.O. and 3 man was pushed out about a hundred yards East of the German support line, no live Germans were encountered but several dead were seen in shell holes.  This patrol observed a considerable number of Germans coming out of BOIRY.  German trenches and wire were flattened.  This party sent back 12 prisoners.

 

 

 

No 7 Party.  (2nd Lieut. J. Parminter, slightly wounded) reports, German front line entered without resistance.  Exact position of German support line could not be located as it was obliterated.  About where support line was situated some 20 Germans occupying shell holes and a portion of BAT TRENCH put up a fight, inflicting several casualties on us.  6 were sent back as prisoners the remainder killed.  Patrols report many German dead lying about.  A light Machine Gun was captured.

 

No 8 Party.  (2nd Lieut. W.J. Elliott) reports, The wire was not entirely cut on this party’s front, about 25 yards of German wire and trench appeared to have escaped out artillery.  The party, however, split in two, going to right and left.  Germans (about 15) were occupying this portion of trench and gave some resistance, they were engaged in front by bombs and outflanked.  The majority then ran back but were mostly knocked down by rifle fire.  The German support line was obliterated and several German dead found.  A dugout was blown up just outside our left flank by our Sappers at about 0.8.b.8.4., after 11 prisoners had been extracted.

 

It would appear that between 40 and 50 prisoners were started back to our front line, but of these only between 20 and 25 can be accounted for. Receipts are actually held for 31 prisoners but I think some of these may have been duplicated in error as I do not believe as many came through as the raiders actually claim.  Captain Smith, however, reports having seen many dead and wounded Germans in No Man’s Land as he came back, evidently knocked out by their own barrage.  Some dead Germans were also left in our trenches and about 8 wounded.

 

Our artillery preparation was perfect and our barrage could not have been better. Our casualties are, 2 Officers, 47 Other Ranks (Killed 4, Missing 23, Wounded 20).  A large number of these casualties were inflicted by German artillery as we withdrew.  The evacuation was carried out in perfect order commencing at ZERO plus 30 minutes in the following order

  1. Patrols
  2. Men from German support line
  3. Men from German front line

 

In all, 2 German light Machine Guns were captured and were sent back. These have not appeared and were apparently lost on the way back, but I have absolute proof that they were started on their way back.  Both were apparently British Lewis Guns converted.

 

A German aeroplane was flying very low over the portion of German Trench raided by us, firing a machine gun and dropping some bombs. He was previously flying dangerously low while we were forming up but fortunately did not appear to observe our movements.  Our aeroplanes did not seem to be sufficiently far forward or low enough to deal with this.

 

Note.  With reference to our casualties it is thought that several of the missing will eventually be accounted for as having gone through the dressing stations wounded.

 

W.R.A. Dawson

Lieut Colonel

Cmdg. 6th Bn. The Queen’s Own

(Royal West Kent Regiment)

15/10/17