George Ryan’s letter home dated 14 Jan 15

Victoria Barracks




14 Jan 1915


Dear May,


Just a few words to let you know I received no letter this week. I suppose mother didn’t get my letter from Aden, or I should have had an answer to it this week.


However, they expect the mail boat in a bit earlier this week; it’s supposed to reach Bombay some time to-day, so we might get our letters Sat night.  It will be quite a change, as it’s been Mon or Tues the last 3 or 4 weeks, before we’ve got any letters.


I fired ball-cartridge for the first time yesterday. I got on very well; it was only on the 30 yards range though.  It was only to get us used to our rifles – those that had not fired ball before.  We shall start firing our “course”, next week I expect.  It takes two or three weeks, as we have various kinds of targets, at different ranges, both rapid & deliberate (take your time) firing.  We can earn extra pay for firing, I think.  A first-class shot gets 6d a day extra a second class gets 3d & a 3rd class shot gets nothing extra.  Of course, you have to be very good at it to get anything extra.  The Army doesn’t give anything away.  These payments are what the Regulars get, but we don’t know yet whether we shall get them.  Of course, we are acting as Regulars out here, but when it comes to a matter of pay we are only Territorials.


Well the rumour that we should leave here in March has been buried. We’ve had another one since then & that was that we were here for 3 years but that’s also been buried.  The one alive at present is that the war will be over by October & that we shall spend next Christmas at home.  I hope this last one is right.  After all “there’s no place like London”.


Hoping you are all well & jogging along alright.


Love to all,

Yr loving brother



Appendix Y to OO 142 30 September 1917.



Reference O.O. 142.


  1. (a). If the 9th K.O.Y.L.I. fail to take the 1st objective, the 15th Durh L.I. will take 1st objective and 10th K.O.Y.L.I. will take 2nd objective.

In this case, one company of 15th Durh L.I. will follow 10th K.O.Y.L.I. and be in support of them.


(b). The 9th K.O.Y.L.I. will assist 15th Durh L.I. and will dig in on objective allotted in Brigade O.O. to two companies of 10th K.O.Y.L.I.


(c). The 1st E. York R. will occupy our old front line with one company.


  1. In the event of 9th K.O.Y.L.I. being unable, owing to enemy action (e.g. severe counter-attacks on 110th Inf. Bde. on 2nd inst., or on 9th K.O.Y.L.I. on 3rd inst.)-

(a). The 10th K.O.Y.L.I. will take 1st objective, and will take over line and be formed up in front by 5 a.m. 4th inst.

(b). The 15th Durh. L.I. and one company 1st E. York. R. will take 2nd objective as arranged.

(c). The 1st E. York. R. will perform role originally allotted to 10th K.O.Y.L.I.

(d). The 9th K.O.Y.L.I. will be Brigade Reserve and occupy position allotted to 1st E. York. R.


  1. In the event of dispositions having to take place as in para 2 – If 10th K.O.Y.L.I. fail to take 1st objective, the 15th Durh L.I. will take it.

The 1st E. York. R. will take 2nd objective supported by one company 15th Durh L.I.

The 10th K.O.Y.L.I. will do task as allotted to 9th K.O.Y.L.I. in para. 1 (b).


O.C. battalions will have plans ready for each eventuality and let their officers know them.

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 29 Dec 1915

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 29 Dec 1915


On embossed crested notepaper of 75th Overseas Canadian Battalion


Dec 29th 1915

Bugler R.H. Elliott

1st Platoon #138567

A Company

75th Battalion C.E.F.

Exhibition Camp

Toronto Ont


Mr. Laporte Payne,


Dear Sir,


I received your letter of the 9th and also your letter and testament of the 15th and thank you for them.


I was just going to answer your letter of the 9th when I got the other one, I had it already wrote and was going to post it tonight, so am writing this to express my thanks for finding my Aunt and also for sending the testament.  I am sorry you could not find my mother at 8 Finchley Park, if she has moved into Kentish Town again, you may be able to get some information about her at 71 Warden Road, Kentish Town, because she used to live there before she went to Finchley Park, but I daresay my Aunt knows where she is although you didn’t mention it in your letter.


Now that you have found one of my Aunts for me, I am anxious to get a letter from her and will be watching the mails every day until I get one.


I am very much pleased with the testament you sent me, and will carry it in my pocket all the time, I also promise that I will try and read a portion of it every day. I have filled in the front page of it now and hope some day that I will be able to fill in the last page.


I am sorry to say that I can’t with a clear conscience fill in the last page, but I was up to a Mission a few Sundays ago and after the meeting was over, the speaker came up to me and asked me if I was saved and I said no, well he talked to me for over an hour and yet after all that I couldn’t say yes.


I think it is this way I might have promised that speaker I would believe in the Lord, and yet my own conscience told me that as soon as I got away and came into barracks I would forget all about it and be just as bad as ever, if you were around sometimes and heard me swear and do things I know I shouldn’t do, you would say I was bad.


Before I wrote to you I never had any interested in anybody, I just worked and spent the time as well as I could. My intentions were to learn to run automobiles and motorboats and then go into the United States and run a launch for some wealthy man down there and just travel around, remaining single and making no friends.


I have been in this country nearly eight years and haven’t made a friend until I joined the Army six months ago, before then I worked all the time on farms and didn’t have time to think about Mother or any of my relatives.


But since I joined I have nothing to do at nights and nowhere to go it has made me think of them.


Well Mr Payne I don’t know why I have told you all this, but your letters seem to be so nice and yet they are not dry like ministers generally do write, that they seem to convince me, that I ought to join Christ’s Army too.


You can imagine how I feel though in this big country without friends or anybody to confide my troubles, nowhere to go when I am not working, it seems to make me sober and morose, I have never had the chance to play, like other boys have, always having to work. I feel if I had my mother or some of my relatives to confide in I would lead a better life.


I think I will have to close now as I have not any more room but I would liked to have said more. Thanking you for your kindness in looking up my relatives.  I remain


Gratefully yours


Robert Elliott

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne undated

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne undated



Churches’ Huts

Headed notepaper

Dear Vicar,

I thank you very much for your letter, which I very much appreciate, in view of the amount of work you must have to get through; and I am very small in the scale of importance. I hope Mr Stedman is now all right again.


I am sorry to say that as regards work I have not fallen on my feet. Our work has to be done in rushes, and added to this conditions are strange to me.  All days are alike, and one can never leave the office until 10 pm, although we get plenty of time off for exercise.  However, I am getting on better now.  What I shall be put too eventually, of course, I do not know.


With regard to religion, since I have been in France I have become a bit of a heathen, but I must make an effort to get to Church.


An official list to work with has just been completed.  I understand the Chaplain is highly connected.  One of the fellows in our Dept of work is thinking of becoming a R.C.  he is attached to a well known *** IIII ****, and had done some platform speaking.  He is a Welshman, and of course a ritualist.  He is a very nice and a very clever fellow.  Some of the R.C. churches here are fine old buildings, and the ceremonial arrangements do not seem out of place, although, of course, I do not agree with then.


I have heard the Y.M.C.A. and the Salvation Army etc. Huts criticized unmercifully by some as money-making concerns etc.  fellows in the army are given to exaggeration, but the fact remains that something for nothing is the only sign of usefulness in the eyes of many.  Present Salvation is well laughed at.


Many of the fellows I have come across have evangelical convictions, which keep them, and also others in order, although they think it best to keep to Army ways, and so they swear, and make fun of the sexual question etc.


The married folk I have come across are, as a rule, clean in their talk, although there are many exceptions.


Impurity is very bad in the Army. I think myself that the Govt should not allow non-commissioned officers to talk loosely on sexual questions during the performance of their duty.  Some never speak without introducing the subject in some jocular form or other.


I, personally, am very thankful for the true religious convictions that are to be found in many, not withstanding their outward demeanour.


With best wishes

I remain, Yours sincerely

J.S. Plumridge.

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 13 June 1915

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 13 June 1915


9 Arandale Road

  1. Cheam





To Rev W. La Porte Payne


My dear Vicar,


I am taking the liberty of writing you these few lines. Thank you very much for your last kind letter with all the news it contained.


We hope you are each keeping well and that the work goes forward in the Parish. I hear a little about it from Mr Taylor.  I am pleased to inform you that we are all three keeping well at present, Terrence has been under the Doctor here for a Fortnight but is now better and started school again.


Mrs Smith and myself are keeping very well. We went to the 8 o/c Celebration this morning together and of course our thoughts flew to Finchley.  My brother has been over to see us on several occasions & has stayed two week ends with us.


My brother in the Army has gone back into the firing line, though the splinters of shell are still in his arm. It is quite two weeks sine I heard from him.  My Nephew was well last I heard from him.  S.L. Smith has been promoted to Lance Corporal.


I am still making progress in Business and in health, and would be quite happy if it were not for the dark cloud of the past, and the pain & suffering I caused others. I am pleased to say Mrs Smith seems better on the whole, her sister is coming to stay with her on Tuesday next.


I hope Mrs. Payne and your family are each keeping well.


I have often wondered how Archie was getting on, especially when I see the large lists of Officers that are falling day by day. Please to kindly remember me to Mr. Mannering.  You must have your hands full just now with your staff reduced.  We were wondering if you were having the Garden Fete soon & know what an extra burden that is upon you.


I am still bearing you and the Parish up in my poor prayers, that Our Father may reward you for all your goodness & kindness & give you His blessing in all things.


With our united kind regards & good wishes


Believe me

Dear Sir

Yours v. sincerely

Wm. Smith.

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne April 15

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne April 15



Dear Sir,                                                                                                          April 15


As I am of opinion that you will interest yourself on my behalf, I am asking if you could kindly send a Lady worker in the district to pay a visit to my wife or call yourself, as I have just received a letter from home, which does not leave one feeling very comfortable, and I am sure it is a letter one does not wish to receive in times, such as are at the present. I have a little boy who had rickets but my wife does not tell me anything as regards how he is going on, and I am very anxious to know, so if you could write a letter to me on behalf of my wife, I shall esteem it a great favour as my time out here is none too pleasant & my wife fails to give me any news that would be of interest to me.  There is no doubt that this will cause her to be offended but I feel I am compelled to do it owing to the uneasy state of my mind.  I received your card at the beginning of the year and I think I acknowledged it.  I am enclosing her letter for you to see, and when she gets to know what I have done no doubt I shall receive fewer letters still.  My present address is 34th M.A.C. Salonica Forces No. 203809 late 91st A.A.  I will now close thanking you in anticipation, Believe me to be

Yours very truly


Pte F. Bowman


Home address, 14 Castle Way.

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Dec 1915

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne


Extracted from


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





Sunday December 5, 1915.


Tilshead House.


“We arrived here on Thursday last in the wet & mud by road. There is no station within thirteen miles.  I had three wagons full of forage, rations and what not.


My days are as follows:


7.30 a.m. Rise.

8          Breakfast.

Order dinner and see to the general management of the Headquarters staff and our household. We have eight horses, thirteen men to run the place for three officers.  The house has two sitting rooms, four large bedrooms, and at the top accommodation for the orderlies, servants and clerks.

8.45, a.m. The General and Captain Waller and I go to the ranges for firing. My job is to check the laying of each gun to see that it does not fire in the wrong direction and so do any damage to persons or property.  This goes on all day with no time for lunch until 4 p.m., when we return and change our soaking things and have hot baths.

It has rained every day so far, and on Saturday it did not stop. My Burberry is no good it lets the rain through badly.


At night there is all the correspondence to see to, and the accounts to do. Rations and forage are always wrong.  They do not come out to Sutton Veny as regularly and correctly as they should.


We dine at eight. I shall in future sympathise in future with housekeepers.  It is an awful job.  I shall be glad to give it up at any time.  We have had the Colonel of each Brigade staying with us every night in turn.  Sunday is no exception.  This goes on for twelve days.  I am absolutely fed up with it.  I do not want this job at all.


The ammunition arrived and there was no place to put it. So I was ordered to find a place.  I managed after a hunt to store it in a room the size of a very small bedroom, which was completely filled to the roof.  I hope it does not blow up.  This out-house now contains 1200 rounds of shrapnel and 400 rounds of 4.5 Howitzer ammunition.  I superintended the unloading of this at ten o’clock at night in the pitch dark and pouring rain.  What a life!  It is not as if I should have the pleasure of firing it off.  Others will have that job while I look on and see that the round does not blow up an inoffensive citizen of the Plain.


December 11 1915.



Tilshead House

“The weather has improved a little, but last Thursday it rained hard all day. I shall be glad when firing practice is over.  It is very monotonous.  We leave on Wednesday I think.


There is a new Staff Captain here now. Rew has been given the push.  Captain Beal posted in his place was Adjutant to General Kirby in France, and has been over there five months.  It will my turn next and I shall not be sorry.


December 27 1915.



Officer’s Mess

175th Brigade R.F.A.

Corton Camp

Codford St. Mary



“I arrived here on Sunday night and managed to get my kit housed out of the pouring rain. Today the weather has been very bad, with a high wind.


Orders for a move to Egypt have been cancelled for the time being.




This Brigade was raised locally in Staffordshire by Lieut. Colonel E.C. Meysey Thomson, M.P. Recruiting commenced on June 20th 1915, and closed approximately on the 12th August 1915, when the Brigade joined the 34th Division and moved to Kirby Malzeard.


On the 30th August it proceeded to Tidworth, and on the 2nd September Lieut. Colonel E.H. Stevenson, D.S.O., R.F.A. assumed command of the Brigade.


On the 2nd October the Brigade moved to Corton to complete training, and in December was warned for service in Egypt, but this was cancelled a week later.


Finally on the 3rd January it was warned for active service in France.







Lieut. Col.                               E.H. Stevenson D.S.O.

Adjutant.                                 Lieut. T. Payne.

Orderly Officer                       2/Lieut. G.M.A. Fletcher.


  1. Battery

O.C.                                        Captain A.C. Crookshank.

2/Lieut. S.W. Woodrow.

2/Lieut. D. Lowden.


  1. Battery

O.C.                                        Captain E.C. Howard.

2/Lieut. A. Roberts.

2/Lieut. J. Amour.


  1. Battery

O.C.                                        Captain G.T. Spain.

2/Lieut. A.B. MacDonald.

2/Lieut. R.W.R. Fleming.


  1. Battery


O.C.                                        Captain A.P.Y. Langhorne D.S.O.

Lieut. C.F.T. Hopkins.

2/Lieut. A.A. Laporte Payne

2/Lieut. C. Freeman-Cowan.


Brigade Ammunition Column.


Lieut. G.B. Morgan

2/Lieut. W.C. Hickman.