War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Feb 1915

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne


Extracted from


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






Sunday February 14th 1915


“I am Divisional Orderly Officer tonight, and have to sleep in the General’s Office near the entrance to the barracks. I am the only officer left in the Battery, as the others are away on courses, one at Aldershot, and the other at Woolwich.  Part of the Divisional Artillery have moved to huts at Ipswich, the Dexters with them.  I do not envy them in this weather, which is awful.  The Saturday’s half-holiday has been cancelled now, and the work has been stiffened up a lot.


Tuesday February 24 1915.   (?)


“The scare here now is German air ships. I am on duty every forth night as Divisional Orderly Officer, and there has been a lot of night work lately.  One day I went by road to Ipswich with six guns and full teams.  Another day we had night trench digging.  Other days our time is occupied in gun drill, ranging practices, and reconnaissance rides.


My routine for the last few hours has been: last night in the General’s office, when some business turned up which kept me occupied till after midnight. Next morning at 6.30 am stables, breakfast at 8, a.m.  Parade 8.40 a.m.  Brigade ride to various battery positions with Colonel Lushington from 9 to 12 noon.  Demonstration Section Gun Drill noon to 1, p.m.  Lunch at 1, p.m. Battery Parade at 1.40 p.m.  Officer’s Standing Gun Drill from 2 to 3, p.m.  Men’s rifle and marching drill 3 to 4.30 p.m.  Stables 5 to 6 p.m. Battery accounts at 7 p.m.  Dinner 7.30 p.m.  After dinner I read Battery, Brigade, Divisional, Eastern Command and War Office Daily Orders.


On Sunday we had Church Parade. Then the Colonel found some dirty harness, and he ordered harness cleaning from 6 to 8 p.m.


Then at a late hour we had the excitement of the bomb bursting near by, which we may consider our baptism of fire.


It was quite a good shot for our barracks. The bomb fell just between the lower corner of the Artillery Barracks where our Battery has its quarters and the road in which I am billeted.  A portion of the bomb was found in this road, and mine host declares that a portion of lead from his roof came down.  I was not in my billet at the time, but was in another part of the town, so I did not hear much of the noise.

To night there is not a light to be seen anywhere. I hear a rumour that there are seven airships over Ipswich, but I have my doubts.


The other morning in the dim light of dawn I had to go down to the station to detrain a large number of kicking horses, which made me tear my hair until I managed to see the funny side of it, but my sense of humour took a long time to operate.  Now we have a lot of vicious mules for the Ammunition Column, and some of the Battery wagons.


I expect leave will be hard to get now in case of emergency parades.


The 10th Fusiliers move tomorrow to Andover.


Alfred George Richardson’s Diary Feb 1915

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary Feb 1915


Salisbury Plain.

Monday 1st February 1915:     Watched R.F.A. firing howitzers on S. Plain.) MUD                                                                                                  Glorious Day) MUD

Dozens of aeroplanes seen) MUD

Tuesday 2nd February 1915:    Watched R.F.A. firing on S. Plain.  Wet day.  Mud                                                 terrible.  Walked 10 miles in 6” deep mud.  Tired out. Wednesday 3rd February 1915: Reveille 6.0.  Parade 6-20.  Helped 3rd W.R.R.F.A. stables& filled ammn wagons with 15 lb shells.  Mud awful.  Breakfast 8.  Signalling all morning on West Downs.  Saw          Canadians after practice for review by King George.  Ripping & inspiring sight.

Thursday 4th February 1915:   Reveille 7.30.  Went signalling near Canadian Camp.  Saw King Geo review all 30,000 Canadians.  Most inspiring sight I ever saw.  2          Bi-planes continually flew over troops.  Glorious.  Aft holiday.  Walked to Shrewton.  Pretty village.

Friday 5th February 1915:       Reveille 7-30.  Signalling on Plain all morning.  Aft holiday.  Stayed in billets reading the “Times”.  Went to Lipton’s Canteen & had an interesting chat with 2 Canadians.  One of them knew grandfather at the Buttes, Calgary.

Saturday 6th February 1915:   Reveille 7.30.  Signalling all morning on Plain. Raining hard.  Mud indescribable.  Wet through.  After fine.  Walked to Stonehenge.  Ripping.  Quaint old place.  Saw Jack Moore & Tony Moss of advance party of 11th Batt. 4 W.R.R.F.A.

Canadians, with whom we mixed, are the best “sports” I ever came across.  Had several interesting chats with them. Canada has indeed done her share in this terrible war.  Far better equipped than British Army.

Salisbury – Sheffield.

Sunday 7th February 1915:      Walked to Stonehenge with Jack Moore & Tony Moss Alan Senior Tommy Butler, Harry Eagle & Eric Stowel.  Paraded with Kits at 2.45 ready to depart for Sheffield.  Messed about until 4 pm.  Raining fast.  Left billets at 4 & tramped to Amesbury in awful weather.  Mud wretched.  Absolutely wet through.

Monday 8th February 1915:    Waited from 6 till 2.40 am on Amesbury Station!!!  Most awful night I ever spent.  Dripping.  Set off 4-40 am.  Arrived London 9 am.  Peterbro’ 12-30.  Had coffee & scones.  Would you believe it!  Arrived Sheff  4-40 pm.  Never spent such a night before.

Tuesday 9th February 1915:    Signalling on the “Tip” in morning & on Bramall Lane Football Ground in the afternoon.

Wednesday 10th February 1915:  Signalling Bramall Lane in aft.  Battery Parade at Heely Baths in morning.

Thursday 11th February 1915: Signalling all day on Bramall Lane Football Ground.  Y.M.C.A. at night.  Had a bath.

Friday 12th February 1915:     Signalling all day on Bramall Lane Football Ground.  Went to see “Forty Thieves” at the “Hip”.

Saturday 13th February 1915: Signalling at Bramall Lane in morning.  Cleaning Glosop Road Stables 2-3 pm.  Went to Sheff Utd. (1) V Burnley (0).  Fire Picket at night.

Applied for leave but was unsuccessful.


Sunday 14th February 1915:    Reveille 6.45. Glossop Road Stables 7 – 8-30.  Church Parade at St. Barnabas 10 am. Glossop Rd. Stables 12.30.  Walked round by Bell Inn in afternoon with Geof Stead.  Y.M.C.A. for tea & writing letters at night.

Monday 15th February 1915:  Signalling in morning on Bramall Land Football Ground & in afternoon in Norfolk Park.  Fine day.

Tuesday 16th February 1915:  Shrove Tuesday.  Signalling all day in Bramall Lane.  No pancakes!!!

Wednesday 17th February 1915: Signalling in Bramall Lane in morning.  Half day holiday in aft so went to Cinema House with T.A. Dean.

Thursday 18th February 1915: Signalling all day on Bramall Lane.

Friday 19th February 1915:     Signalling all day on Bramall Lane.

Saturday 20th February 1915: Signalling in morn at Bramall Lane.  Informed by Lieut Walker that I was to be made             Bombardier.  Went to see Cup Tie 3rd Rd.  Sheff Utd. (1) V Bradford (2).  Waiting Man to Pickets.

Put in for leave, but again unsuccessful.  Promised leave for next week by Lieut P.A. Walker.

Sheffield Ben Rhydding

Sunday 21st February 1915:    Promoted to Acting Bombardier along with Geo. Shead.  Church Parade 10.30 at St. Barnabas Ch.  Stables 7 am, 12.30 & 4 pm.  Y.M.C.A. at night.  Supper with Martin.

Monday 22nd February 1915:  Signalling on Bramall Lane.  In charge of party of Signallers (20).  Interview with Lieut Walker about my future duties etc.  Got my stripes.

Tuesday 23rd February 1915:  Stables, Glossop Rd in morning & exercising horses.  In charge of Gate Picket in aft relieving Bomb Becket, (in Riding School).

Wednesday 24th February 1915: Baths & Stables in morning.  Relieved Geo Stead Gate Picket in aft so that he could play soccer in 4th           Section (6) v 2nd Section (0).

Thursday 25th February 1915: Exercising horses in Norfolk Park.  Inoculated at 11 am.  2nd dose.  Helped Doctor to do rest.  Went with Bds Shead & Bulcock to Cinema Café & Y.M.C.A.  Bed 5- 30.

Friday 26th February 1915:     Got up 11 am.  Got paid at 2.30 & went home to Ben R. on 3-52 train.  Arrived Ben R. 5-33 pm.  Went to club. Spent a nice evening over fire.

Saturday 27th February 1915: Got up at 8-30.  Went to Ilkley on bike with Marion Watkinson.  Played golf on Hydro links with Dad & Willie.  Raining hard.  Wet through.  L. Arm a bit stiff.  Went to see Mr & Mrs Beaumont & Miss Whitaker. Went to bed at midnight.


Sunday 28th February 1915:    Rose at 9am.  Went walk up Drive & Burnley Woodhead, & back by Railway Line.  Afternoon at Miss Whitaker’s.  Saw Dick Cowan.  Left 8.24 pm & arrived Sheffield 11-30.

G G Hammond letter Feb 15

P/e G.G. Hammond

3142 2nd 7th Bat Mc/r Reg

27 Scarisbrick St



Are you saving any of the allotment for college?

I wish Gladys many happy returns & hope she will soon be better.  Tell her to keep 3/- out of my next present to a birthday for herself.  Love G


Dear F & M,

I received your letter this morning & the enclosure.  Fred is a lucky dog, they will not let any of our chaps go on leave with inoculation, it is hard work to get a weekend pass.  I am going to try for a transfer to the DLO if things don’t look up.

I am sorry to hear that Gladys is so bad, how is it her finger is always being bad.  If she does not stop biting her finger nails she will be having blood poison.  Do you think she could come over by herself some Saturday afternoon?  I would look after her coming back & I think she can manage alright coming.

I have got into an awful billet, one man in our room has been in bed all week with a sore throat & complications.

I went on Church Parade in my riding breeches this morning & some of the men began to shout “Fall out the Officers”.  Shortly one of the officers came to me and asked me what I meant by coming on parade in riding breeches, as it was not regimental.

Tell Fred to write to me occasionally he has not answered my last letter yet.  There is a certain amount of excuse for him, because I am a long way behind with my own correspondence.  If Pa should be in Bramhall I want him to tell Mr. Smith that I will write to him shortly.

I think I mentioned on the P.C. that we had had a night march, we went to Scarisbrick, the idea was that we were relieving some soldiers in the trenches there (I think old Kemps pen is giving out) and we had to be there by 11 o’clock.  The advance guard went on in front and then the supports.  I acted as a connecting file along with Burgess between the supports & the main body.  We arrived at Scarisbrick at 11-10 and we were the first to get there.  We were not allowed to smoke or sing on the march which makes it much more difficult.  I am going for my first dancing lesson next Thursday most likely, when I get back to civilized life I shall be able to take Gladys to a few hops perhaps.  Arthur tells me that his people are going to move to Rossett on Sat. 13th. Alice is going into digs & so is he.  There is not a single fellow I know in this billet.  How is Ma going on?  Still as cheerful as ever I hope.  I am going to try for a pass until I get one.  If you had sent me a teleg. saying “Brother home on leave very ill try to get over” I could have shown it to our OC & told the tale.  It is a very common gag.

I think I shall be going up to Spencer’s again today for dinner.  I hope so it is the only decent meal I get since I got into this hole.  Everyone is fed up with the continual changing that we are going through. I heard this morning that we are only for Home Service.  I suppose it is only a rumour.

Ashman is on station picket today.  He’s had quite a number of extra duties to do lately.  I have promised to go round to see him so I shall have to conclude.

I take my washing to my old landlady, as she repairs it all when it comes back, which is jolly good of her.

Love George


PS Everyone calls me Jack here.

F Hammond letter 11 Feb 15

RE Headed Notepaper

62210 RE



Stanhope Lines


Dear F & M

Just a line to let you know I am still in the land of the living.  I got back alright on Saty night and am practically in the pink now.  I was sorry to have left missed my rifle training.  Have been having a rather quiet time this week.  I hear we may be inoculated again tomorrow & so may perhaps be able to get up home again.  I just remember now that it is Gladys birthday tomorrow so I must wish her many happy returns of the day.  We keep getting more kit so before long I shall require a man to carry it. T Earlam is now attached to a section.  I am still in the spare section.  We go wagging the flags every day.  There is really not very much to write about.  We have plenty of amusement in our room.  We have a fine gramophone with plenty of selections.  We are still getting plenty to eat.  I have never been chilly since I got the old jersey.  Well everything is going on OK.

Hope all is well at home & the Banking account is rise. Eh- Don’t be surprised if you see me again soon but no Doctor touches





In February 1915, Germany’s industrial war machine was supplying her army with the necessary guns, rifles, ammunition and explosives. The allies were barely supplying the equipment needed to sustain their war effort. Germany had been preparing for war, whilst the allies did virtually nothing until war became inevitable.


Egypt, at one time, was formally part of the Otterman Empire, but from December 1914, it operated as a British Protectorate. The protectorate, designed to defend the Suez Canal, which was vital to Britain in order to maintain the shortest route to her Eastern Empire. On the 5th August 1914, Egypt was at war with the enemies of Britain. Turkish Muslims proclaimed Jihad (holy war) against British and Western involvement in the Middle East. The Turks planned to invade Egypt, and on the 28th January 1915, British observers identified a large column of Turkish troops approaching across the Sinai desert. British and French ships entered the canal and opened fire on the approaching Turkish forces. Patrols clashed on the 2nd February 1915 but a sandstorm halted any further action until the following day.


On the 3rd February 1915, Allied and Indian army defending the canal opposed the Turkish infantry approaching the Suez Canal from Palestine to the East. Indian machine guns decimated the Turkish troops on the Eastern banks of the canal and those who were crossing in small craft. The Turkish army retreated but the attack resumed the following day with additional diversions launched north of the main action. Guns from the British and French naval ships plus staunch resistance from the defenders halted any further Turkish advance. The entire Turkish army withdrew back across the Sinai desert.


On the 4th February 1915, Germany declared a naval blockade of Britain. This warned all neutral countries that shipping around the UK would risk attack, by German submarines, without any warning.

Alfred von Tirpitz opposed the plan, but Hugo von Pohl, Chief of Marine Staff, issued the declaration. Chancellor Theopold Bethman-Hollweg was also in favour of the declaration. The United States of America protested, owing to the commercial shipping she sent to Britain, and the Kaiser withdrew the declaration.


“German Declaration of Naval Blockade Against Shipping to Britain”


The waters round Great Britain and Ireland, including the English Channel, are hereby proclaimed a war region.

On and after February 18th every enemy merchant vessel found in this region will be destroyed, without it always being possible to warn the crews or passengers of the dangers threatening.

Neutral ships will also incur danger in the war region, where, in view of the misuse of neutral flags ordered by the British Government, and incidents inevitable in sea warfare, attacks intended for hostile ships may affect neutral ships also.

The sea passage to the north of the Shetland Islands, and the eastern region of the North Sea in a zone of at least 30 miles along the Netherlands coast, are not menaced by any danger.

(Signed) Berlin, February 4th,


Chief of Marine Staff


The Winter Battle of the Masurian Lakes opened on the 9th February 1915. At Masuria the Russians still held the strip of East Prussia that had been taken during the Battle of Augustov at the end of September 1914. Germany wanted the territory back and faced the Russians with 2 armies, the existing 8th Army and the newly formed 10th Army. The Russians were entrenched in primitive positions and poorly supported by their artillery. The artillery Commanders appeared more concerned in saving their guns rather than the infantry. Attacked from both North and South of the Lake the Russians were threatened by advancing German troops and in danger of being encircled. Poor Russian intelligence underestimated the German strength, whose superior numbers forced the Russians into the constricted area of the Augustov Forest. By the 16th February 1915, another “Tannenberg” type of defeat was threatening. When the attacks began they were so ferocious Europe’s last wild bison were wiped out. The German pincer surrounded the Russians on the 21st February 1915, the Russian Army surrendered. This battle was not another “Tannenberg” but never again would East Prussia be threatened by invasion from Russia in the Great War.



Having survived attacks from Austria/Hungary in 1914 Serbia was aware of an imminent major attack. On 15th February 1915, the Allied Governments of Britain, France and Russia suggested to the Greek Government, that Greece should come to support Serbia. Despite having entered into an alliance with Serbia, Greece declined. Greece suggested the Allied powers supply the troops required despite territorial concessions agreed by the British in return for help to Serbia. In desperation the Allied powers agreed and Greece gave Britain and France permission to use Salonika to support Serbia. A small number of allied troops were dispatched to Serbia but not enough to make any great difference.



19th February 1915, saw British and French ships attacking the Turkish positions at the Dardanelles entrance. The Dardanelles being the narrow strait separating Europe from Asia and the only waterway linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill was convinced the naval attack would be successful without the use of infantry. Churchill hoped to take Constantinople and knock Turkey out of the war and thereby open a route to Russia.

The Turkish military were aware of the possibility of an attack and therefore fortified their defensive positions supported by their German allies. The navy used long-range guns but were largely unsuccessful. The naval attack was subsequently abandoned and later replaced with a land invasion of the Gallipoli peninsular.


February 1915. The Campaign in Mesopotamia.


British and Indian troops had been dispatched and landed in the Arabian Gulf in November 1914, in what is now Iraq. They were sent to protect the pipeline carrying oil from British dominated Persia. February saw the advance of British and Indian forces into what was the Southern tip of the Otterman Empire. The allies took Basra and Kurma, but the Turkish forces launched a counter-attack. The reinforced British and Indians responded by advancing along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers up to the town of Kut (Kut-el-Amara). The cavalry of the British General Charles Townshend cut through and scattered the Turkish forces. The good news of the success of the capture of Kut went some way into redressing the deadlock at Gallipoli. Townshend sought an even greater victory by the taking of Baghdad. This campaign continued.








First Period of German Submarine Warfare.


When the Great War started in August 1914, the American President Woodrow Wilson pledged American neutrality. However, Britain was one of America’s closest trading partners, which created tensions for the Germans, as trade was encouraged between Britain and America. On 18th February 1915 German Admiral von Pohl wanted neutral shipping in the so-called “war zone” to be attacked. The “war zone” being all the water around the United Kingdom and the whole of the Irish coastline. Germany announced they would begin a commerce war against any nation trading with Britain. America reacted by sending a forceful note to Germany to say Germany would be held responsible for any sinking of American ships. Owing to American neutrality, Germany could not afford to provoke America into getting involved in the war. German Chancellor Bethman-Hollweg persuaded senior naval officers to exclude the sinking of neutral shipping, especially those from America. The U-boat commerce war actually started on the 22nd February 1915, but because Germany did not have sufficient U-boats to patrol the “war zone”. Neutral commercial shipping continued arriving in Britain with their cargoes intact. This type of U-boat warfare continued until September 1915 when the Germans changed tactics.