War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 2 December 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

2nd December 1917

 

MARCH.

 

From Isola della Scala.

 

ASIGLIANO                         2nd December, 1917.

 

R.P. December 2, 1917.

B.E.F. Italy.

 

The best thing for me to do is to write you a letter and carry it about with me until I get a chance of posting it.

 

We are without any mail from England.  I shall be glad to get news of you all.

 

This is very different to France.  It is an extraordinary country with a population poor and dull living in large farmhouses like enormous barns.  As the rooms have no fire places and the weather in bitterly cold it is not very pleasing.  However we are moving about a lot, and seeing the country, which is most interesting.

 

But we do not appreciate our privileges. Here we are caravanning over this land than which there is no better way of getting to know a country, with two horses for each officer, and wagons for our kit.  No tourist has such a chance and such facilities except at a great expense.  We are doing it at the Government’s cost.

 

I have just visited a delightful medieval fortified town quite out of the way of the usual run of tourists. It possesses an old castle sympathetically restored and furnished.

 

Captain Bell of B Battery is also interested in medieval history so we are having a jolly time together.

 

Tonight we are billeted in a large cold house, and we have just had dinner. It consisted of soup, and two large guinea fowl, which we purchased for the price of two shillings each.  Or to be more exact four lire a piece.  This with potatoes, cabbage, stewed apples, sardines on toast and cheese.

 

I am still in command of the Battery and am likely to be as there is no sign of the Major returning.  I have had the Battery now since July with a short interval.

 

The horses have improved on the march, and are looking very well. It freezes every night. I did not know it could be so cold in Italy.

 

The Italians keep their houses much cleaner than the Belgians. I hope to visit Rome and Naples later on, but before then I must swat up some history books.  Will you send me the book on Pompeii which is some where about.

 

December 2, 1917.

B.E.F. Italy.

 

No mail has arrived here for us yet, so we are without any news. I have not seen an English paper since we left France, and the only information we glean is laboriously from Italian newspapers.  It will be a great day when the mail arrives.

 

This is my first visit to Italy.  It is an extraordinary country, quite unlike France.  the people strike me as poor, dull and rather frightened.  Houses are large but clean.  As they do not possess fireplaces in most of the rooms we find it very chilly, and not very comfortable.  Interiors are barren, and what pictures they have are distinctly bad, except in a few cases in the chief churches, where they are all of a religious character.  The countryside is still medieval, with sudden and unexpected appearances of modern inventions and improvements.  Such as electric lighting in the most unlikely villages.

 

We are having a great opportunity of seeing the countryside, as we have been on the trek for sometime. Here we are touring Italy like a great caravan than which there is no better way of seeing the country, and all at the government’s expense.  No tourist has such facilities except at great cost and trouble.  I have just visited a delightful medieval fortified town, quite out of the way of the usual route of tourists.  It possessed an old castle which has been sympathetically restored, and is full of all the old furniture and decorations.

 

Captain Bell of “B” Battery is like me interested in medieval history, and we are having a jolly time together.

 

Tonight we are billeted in a large cold house. We have just had dinner, our first meal here.  We had two large guinea fowl, which we purchased for the large price of two shillings each, or to be more exact eight lire the two.

 

Unfortunately the men have not yet got accustomed to the wine of the country, “vino rossa”.

 

Will you send me out Sabatini’s “Cesare Borgia”.

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