War Diary of AA Laporte Payne November 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne


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

November 1917

Brigade Headquarters.
I have been reading the Times Literary Supplement and Gilbert Frankau’s “Woman of the Horizon”, but the latter was not a book I think worth while.

We have been shelled out of our Headquarters and have had to move. It was getting a bit too hot, especially at night. We are trying to settle down in our new quarters, a barn; but it is very cold. No fires are allowed at all, as the smoke would certainly be seen. However the Adjutant returns in a day or two, and I go back to my battery’s gun-line. I think it is about time, as I am tired of indoor work.

The Colonel is in a very bad temper to-day. He was late for an appointment with the General.

The Boche seems to be having it all his own way in Italy. I suppose we shall have to stop the rot. I wonder what soldiering would be like in Italy.

R.P. November 11, 1917.
Queen’s Hotel,
The above is my address. I arrived here this afternoon and am sharing a room with the Colonel.

We are here on a Senior Officers’ Course.

November 11, 1917.
Queen’s Hotel
The above is my address! I arrived safely this evening and am sharing a room with the Colonel!!

175th (Army) Brigade, R.F.A. S/1085.
1. The Brigade (Less C Battery) will be withdrawn to their Wagon Lines on the night 15/16th inst., when they will come under the orders of G.O.C.R.A., XVth Corps.
2. The responsibility for the Artillery Defence of the Front at present covered by E Group will be taken over at 4.30 p.m. on the 15th inst by O.C. B Group.
3. The necessary adjustments of S.O.S. Lines are given in the 42nd D.A. Instructions No. 29, attached hereto.
4. Move to Wagon Lines at GHYVELDE will be commenced directly darkness sets in.
5. Acknowledge.

Adjutant, 175th Bde. R.F.A.

(The Brigade left the 42nd Division and their zones were covered by spreading the zones covered by Sykes Group and the remainder of E Group (400th Battery and B/210 Battery, and E Group came under the command of O.C. B. Group)

R.P. November 16, 1917.

Yesterday I arrived safe and sound, but completely disgruntled, and found everything as I expected. The Major is still away sick, and being in command I shall be responsible for the move. You can guess where to.

Things are in a great mess, but no doubt they will straighten out in time.

On the boat coming over I met Sidney Swann and Ted Collins and also two of our subalterns returning, having been recalled also. I met Reg at the Officers’ Club in Boulogne, and dined with him and Swann and Collins. I saw him again the next morning.

I managed to get a car to take me all the way to the wagon lines, so I was very lucky.

That night we had a Brigade dinner and I was vice chairman, and had to make a speech.

I am so sorry I had to leave so early. Thank you for getting up to see me off. I hope you were not very tired.

The course served me well as I was able to see you all before I go far away where no leave can be expected for a long while.

November 16, 1917.
Yesterday I arrived quite safely here, and found everything in a great commotion, as I expected. The import of the wire which brought the Colonel and myself back here was as I thought. So now you know where we are bound. Everything is upside down. The course at Shoeburyness which should have given us six weeks at home, just enabled up to get two days in England. Well! The best laid plans of mice and men…. And we are but mice now.

I had two hours in Folkestone. On board I met Sidney Swann, the Cambridge, now a chaplain, and Ted Collins, a very old friend from Bath, who is in the Cavalry, also two of our subalterns in the same plight as the Colonel and myself.

At Boulogne I met Reg, at the Club, and he, and Swann, Collins and I had dinner together. That night I stayed in Boulogne, and in the morning got a lift in a car with our two subalterns to the wagon lines. That night we had a Brigade dinner. I had to make a speech! Jock Amour toasted the ladies. Very appropriate, wasn’t it?

As the Major seems to be permanently sick, and is still away, I am again in command of the Battery, and short-handed. It involves a great deal of work when we have a long move. Having had a pleasant stay in Blighty snatched away in that fashion, I am a bit disgruntled, not unnaturally.

You will have to procure some very different maps now if you still take an interest in our movements. The Colonel is very pleased with the move and himself. He thinks he is going to win “great honour and glory” where we are going. I doubt it. we shall probably find ourselves in a horrible mess.

Well! Well! Au Revoir.

1. The Brigade will entrain at LOON-PLAGE for MODANE.
3. Units will be at the entraining station 3 hours prior to the time fixed for departure.
7. Distance to LOON-PLAGE from here is 15 miles.
8. SUPPLIES. 14 days supplies will be in lorries at LOON-PLAGE on the morning of the 18th inst. Units will send one officer, one N.C.O., and a small party to meet the Adjutant at that hour and that place for the purpose of dividing the supplies.
10. Headquarters will leave the wagon line at GHYVELDE at 4 p.m. on the 17th inst.

POSTING Captain W.V. Greetham, 15th Hussars, is posted to the 175th Brigade, R.F.A. as Advisor in Horsemastership with effect from todays date.
2/Lieut. H. Griffiths C/175 Bde. R.F.A. is posted to B/175, Bde. R.F.A. with effect from todays date.

A, Battery 175th Brigade, R.F.A.


Two Sections One Section TOTALS
Train No Train No
232 235

Officers… 4. 2. 6.
Other Ranks… 121. 64. 185.
Light draught.. )113. 57. 123.
Riders ) 47.
Heavy Draught 4. 2. 6.


Guns 18pdr. Q.F.
with Limbers 4. 2. 6.
Ammunition Wagons 8. 4. 12.
Wagons G.S…. 3. 1. 4.
Water Cart 1. -. 1.
Mess Cart 1. 1.
Total Vehicles 24.

17, November 1917


Entraining Station, Loon-Plage.

TRAIN Serial Nos. UNIT. Time of Date.
No. Departure.
1. B.40. Headquarters
B.43a. 1/3 How. Battery 11-45 18th Nov.
2. B.43. 2/3 How. Battery 17-45 do
3. B.41. 2/3 A. Battery 23-45 do
4. B41a. 1/3 AB 5-45 19th Nov
B42a. 1/3 BB
5. B42. 2/3 BB 11-45 do
6. ½ Brigade Amm. Col. 17-45 do
7. do 23-45 do

Acting Traffic Officer
16th Nov. 1917

(The whole Brigade want via VINTIMILLE with the exception of Train No. 3 2/3, A. Battery.)

Region Esercito Italiano


Foglio di viaggio per servizio.
Il Cpitano dell’Esercito Inglese A.A.L. Payne, con 4 Ufficiali e 121 soldati deve viaggiare il giorno 21-11-17, da Modane a Piacenza.

Modane, li 21-11-17

Il Capitano
Comandante Militare di Stazione

(Ufficio Carabinieri Reali Modane.)


Train No. 232.
Marche A.N. 24.

LOON-PLAGE Entrained. Night 18/19th November 1917 via Calais.
LONGEAU Halte Repas
CHALONS-SUR-MARNE at 7.30, p.m.
VITRY-LE-FRANCOIS (Along the valley of the Marne.)
SAINT PIERRE d’ALBIGNY (Ascend the valley of the Isere.)
MODANE Mont Cenis Tunnel (Eight miles long nearly.)
South end of tunnel, Bardonnecchia, the first Italian Station.
Best views on the left.


Down the valley of the Dora Riparia
Chiomonte. Through the wild and narrow Le Gorgie.
Susa on left the town of Susa with Roman Arch.
BUSSOLENO Junction for Susa.
Borgone. Pass over the Dora.
S. Ambrogio
ISOLA DELLA SCALA. Arrived on the evening of the 22nd November 1917.

Nov 24th 1917 rode into Verona lunched and bought a Baedeker visited the Arena of Diocletian.

R.P. Post cards.

F.S.P.C. 21, 11, 17
do 21,11,17, Post mark “Louhans a Dijon” 21,11,17
P.P.C. Torino. 21,11,17
P.P.C. Mantova Dated Nov. 22, 1917. Post mark, “Comando del Presidio di Mantova”

Nov. 20, 1917. Postmark “LOUHANS A DIJON
Nov. 21, 1917. DO “MODANE GARE”

P.C. from Turin.
P.C. from Mantova

R.P. November 25, 1917.
No letters from home have yet reached us yet, and are not likely to do so yet. I hear there are forty bags of mail for us somewhere.

It has been all very interesting, in spite of a rather wearisome journey of some days out here. I want to give you some news, but I do not know how this letter is going as we are not allowed to post in civilian post boxes and the Field Service Post has not been established yet.

I have already visited Verona, which was most interesting, and hope to see many more such places before we return to England.

It is very cold here, and the last two days have been of the typical English November weather, dull cold and foggy.

November 25, 1917.
It seems years and years since I left England, and I don’t suppose we shall get any post for a long time. I hear that there are forty mail bags for us somewhere, but they have not turned up yet. I do not know how this letter is going as the Field Service Post has not been established here for us yet, and we are not allowed to use the civilian post. Everything has to be very secret.

We had a most interesting journey, especially in the Alps. It is cold, and we have had several dull and misty days, but the others have been beautiful.

Our battery’s horses travelled exceptionally well, I am glad to say. My mare is quote alright.

I am still in command of the battery. The men have been splendid and we have had no trouble. We lost very little on the way.


From Isola della Scala.

ALBAREDO d’ADIGE (The 7th Div. at Cologna.)
ARCOLE 26th November 1917 to December 2nd 1917.
The scene of the battles of 15/17th Nov. 1796 between the Austrians and the French under Bonaparte.
Visited the village of Soave in the hills, a medieval fortified town in excellent preservation.
Cologna Veneta.

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