War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 16 October 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne




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




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.


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.



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)






Addendum No 2 to OO 116 13 Oct 1917

No 4.




Lieut.-Colonel W.R.A. DAWSON D.S.O. Commanding 6th (S) Battn.

The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

13th October 1917


  1. “Z” day will be 14th October 1917.
  2. ZERO hour will be 4.55 p.m.




H.G. Dove

Captain and Adjutant

Copy No 1 to War Diary

  • C. No 1 Coy.
  • C. No 2 Coy.
  • C. “X” Coy.
  • Medical Officer



Addendum & Amendment No 1 to OO 116 12 October 1917

No 5





Lieut.-Colonel W.R.A. DAWSON, D.S.O., Commdg. 6th (S) Battn.

The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

12th October 1917


Para: 4.            (a).  For Zero minus 6 hours read “Zero minus 8 hours.”


Para: 6.            (h).  For “Evacuation will be covered by snipers and Lewis Guns situated in selected shell holes in No-Man’s-Land” read “Evacuation will be covered by one Lewis Gun with two pairs of snipers situated in shell holes about O.8.d.30.75 and one Lewis Gun and two pairs of snipers on Right Flank in shell holes about O.8.d/20.10.


Para: 18.          In order to indicate to wounded men the direction of our line O.C. Front Battalion will arrange to send up three Red Lights in rapid succession at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. on “Z” day from Sap 3.  These signals will be explained to all ranks taking part in the Raid.


Para: 19.          Four Stretcher Bearers with two stretchers will accompany O.C. Raid.  Six Stretcher Bearers will await orders in British Front Line with their stretchers in shelter about O.8.b.40.35.

They will proceed to Front Line at “Z” minus 45 minutes with No 8 Party.


H.G. Dove

Captain and Adjutant

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 10 October 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne




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




10th October 1917

R.P. October 10, 1917.

The Boche have been air raiding a good deal lately here. During the recent fine weather the drone of their machines seemed continuous at night.  How did Dr. Norburn enjoy the experience of a London raid.  I am sorry you have had another.


The weather is quite wintry now. It rains most of the time and is very cold.


I am at Headquarters doing the Adjutant’s work for a few days. He is going on leave.  I shall be in charge while he is away.  But I return first to the wagon line for a few days’ rest.  It is good to have a room to sleep and dine in again, and a fire at night.  My bedroom is a cupola erection with one side open.  But when I come back I shall be in the house and sleep in the office.


The Boche are having a thin time, at least I hope so. They have realised that their counterattacks are too costly.  We are all going to have a bad time this winter, but I think the next six months will go far in breaking up their moral.  Then we shall get our chance, but not till then.


I must close, as the Colonel is waiting for dinner.


October 10, 1917.

For a few days I am at Headquarters, doing adjutant’s work. The adjutant is away and is probably going on leave shortly, and then I may have to do his work again.  I do not like office work.  His permanent departure has been postponed but he may go any time.


The weather is as usual cold and wet. It rains most of the time.


There is no prospect of a move yet, but I expect we shall move south soon. Progress there seems to be very slow.  But I hope we are killing plenty of Hun.  I should not mind seeing something of that fighting, for though conditions are no doubt very bad there, it is better than sitting still and being shot at.


The Colonel has been in a very bad temper lately. I think he is at last getting fed up with the war.


I have not been out for three days. I am living in a tumbledown farmhouse, and my bed room is a cupola erection without one end.  However we manage to keep dry, and we have a fire in the evenings.  I go to bed about midnight, but have to get up very early as I have to send off reports for the previous twenty-four hours.


As the Boche has been again most objectionable, I have just rung up the batteries and set them off retaliating.