War Diary of AA Laporte Payne May 1915

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

Extracted from

 

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

—————–

 

1915

 

May 4 1915.

Shoeburyness

“…… We had a sort of (picnic) to-day. It consisted in tramping along dusty roads, carrying glasses, compasses, maps, directors etc., climbing up church towers, and locating places.  It was rather interesting but very hot and thirsty work.  It is a wonder our instructor got back at all as every one wanted him to have a pint at the village pub.  I managed to finish my paper on Sunday night after I got back and verified my calculations on Monday morning, so I was alright.  Several men missed the last train back and had to arrive with the milk in the morning.  Our instructor here is a very interesting man.  He was a non-commissioned officer in the famous “L” Battery R.H.A., which was blown to pieces by the Germans.  He and two others continued to serve their gun when every other gun was out of action, and the other men killed or wounded, for which he and two others got the V.C. and commissions.  He was badly wounded by the back burst of a high explosive shell ….

Thursday night is guest night with band, generally a lively time. (We have to honour the King in Mess Port!

 

May 12 1915.

 

After a strenuous morning riding, afternoon at gunnery, evening at lectures, we went out at 9 o’clock for gun-pit digging all night….. We returned this morning at eight.

 

Sunday May 15 1915.

R.P.

B.A.C. 83rd Brigade R.F.A.

Heytesbury House

Heytesbury

Wilts

 

I arrived this afternoon with Dexter, and found that the whole of the officers of the 18th Division were quartered in Heytesbury House.  The surroundings are lovely, but the house is bare and much too overcrowded.

The Commandant of the Shoeburyness School of Gunnery has just been appointed Colonel Commanding our Brigade.

 

Thursday May 20 1915.

 

Somewhere on Salisbury Plain.

 

“I am sitting in a haystack surrounded by the muddy plain. We are on a field day with the infantry…..  yesterday the whole 18th Division went on a divisional route march, and General Maxse inspected us.  As far as I can make out it was for the benefit of the ladies (wives of the generals and staff).  See what I command sort of show,…..very boring for the (regimental officers and men and a day wasted.

 

The weather has been truly awful. I have never seen such mud.  Thick chalky soup, almost up to one’s knees.  The horses and men are never dry.  You can imagine what it is like with the huts not yet finished.  No stables and the horses in open lines.

 

Our new Colonel had arrived and dined in Mess last night. He is going to lecture to us every night on gunnery…..

Heytesbury House is the residence of Baron Heytesbury. The only furniture they have left are some awful family portraits and one or two broken chairs.  Otherwise the place is empty and very dirty.  There is a great crowd in the house.  I am lucky as I am in a room with the adjutant and the Colonel’s galloper.  The mess is very badly run, so we are enjoying ourselves.

 

Opposite here is a large wood, and on either side are high mounds, old tumuli, which probably contain the bones of British warriors. The only sounds are larks singing and gunners snoring.  This American harness is very rotten, and is always breaking.  Fancy having to go to America for our harness.

 

Some of the men are looking for what they call “nesties”. The usual instinct for hunting something.  The language is a bit thick at times, but they are not bad chaps, very willing, though sometimes very stupid.  The second in command of this Brigade is a priceless major, and he affords endless amusement because he can’t ride at all.  He is very tall with long legs that hang down and dangle as he rides.  He sits hunched up over the withers of his horse, and is quite incapable of controlling it.  He backed into the General the other day, who was furious.  The funny part is that when the battery goes into action and his horse takes fright at the noise, as it generally does, he is sure to be taken off to the rear, and as his battery staff have to follow him everywhere and keep him in sight, it is probable that the whole lot will be missing at the critical moment.  They have put off our firing practice for a week, owing probably to the wet.

 

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A G Richardson May 15

Gonnehem.

Saturday 1st May 1915:           Beautiful weather.  Went to A.S.C. for forage.  Went to Chocques in the afternoon on A.S.C.             wagon.  Spent 9 francs.  Nice afternoon.

Weather: – Extremely hot during day.  Cold & breezy at nights.  Heat terrific.  Got paid 10 f April 30.

Gonnehem – Cornet Malo.

Sunday 2nd May 1915:            At Church Parade at 10.15. W.R. D.A.C. & R.F.A. & “Queen’s Rifles”.  Beautiful little service.  Afternoon holiday.  Spent reading & writing.  1st news from home.  Received 2 letters & 2 papers from home.  4 Wagons go to Battery A.C.  Kingswell sees Arnold.

Monday 3rd May 1915:             Went for forage in morning.  To Chocques in the afternoon with wagon.  Witnessed a thrilling shelling of English Aeroplane by Germans.  150 shots at it, but it evaded them.  Fine!!

Tuesday 4th May 1915:           Rained heavily during the night, when I was on guard. Fine during the day.  Went to Chocques for exchange of forage.  Gunners on Guard.  Thunder storm.

Wednesday 5th May 1915:      Moved from Gonnehem to Cornet Malo, where we arrived 2 pm.  Made Bivouacs to sleep in.  Tommy Dean & I in “The U***”.

Thursday 6th May 1915:          Went to Bethune for forage at 7.45.  his with Q.M.S. Walked to Locon.  Saw Arnold at night.  Exchanged letters from home etc.

Friday 7th May 1915:              Went to Bethune for forage at 7.30 am.  Beautiful weather.  Sky lit up with firing star shells etc.

Saturday 8th May 1915:          Went to Bethune for forage at 7.30 am and again at 3 pm for reserve rations.  On Guard at night.

CORNET MALO

Sunday 9th May 1915:             Great advance starts.  Working all day loading amm. 1500 rds sent to A.C.  The Great Bombardment starts 4.30 am.  terrific slaughter of Germans & Brit.  British capture 2 trenches & advance on both flanks, but are repulsed in centre.  Witnessed terrible sights of wounded.

Monday 10th May 1915:         Went to load amm. At 4.30 am. & sent it off to A.C. at La Tamoc Willot.  Several of our chaps see Arnold.  Went to Bethune at 3 pm.  Back at 7 pm.  Heard “Lusitania” torpedoed.

Tuesday 11th May 1915:         Went to Bethune for forage.  Fine weather.  Bought some bread.

Wednesday 12th May 1915:    Went to Bethune for forage.  Nothing much doing all day.

Thursday 13th May 1915:        Went to Bethune for forage.  Fine weather.  Saw Prince of Wales. Arnold comes down to our camp.

Friday 14th May 1915:                        Went to Bethune for forage.  Fine weather.  British make fine progress at Loos.

Saturday 15th May 1915:        Went to Chocques & Bethune in morning with 2 wagons to exchange oats for bran.  Went to Bethune in afternoon for forage.

N.B.  Lost 2 false teeth owing to Hard Army Biscuits.

Le Cornet Malo – Estaires.

Sunday 16th May 1915:           Terrific bombardment.  British advance over a mile at Richebourg, L’Avone.  Went to Bethune.

Monday 17th May 1915:         Saw hundreds of Canadians on way to trenches.  Wet. Went to Bethune for forage at 3 pm.

Tuesday 18th May 1915:         Weather wet.  Went to Bethune for forage at 3 pm.  On Guard for 24 hours in Wagon Park.  Ripping fire.

Wednesday 19th May 1915:    On Guard.  Ripping fire.  Had a good time sleeping, reading & writing letters.  Pay day 15 f.  3 letters from home.

Thursday 20th May 1915:        Went to Chocques & back via Bethune to exchange oats for bran.  Ripping day spent.              Brought present for mother.  No rations drawn.

Friday 21st May 1915:             Went to Bethune for rations & forage at 3.30 am. returned at 8 am.  built new bivouac.  Read “S*** & Overseas” Daily Mirror.

Saturday 22nd May 1915:        Went to Bethune at 3.30 am for forage & rations. Returned 9 am.  moved at 4.30 pm. To “Au Grand bois d’ Estaires” & rejoined the rest of W.R. D.A.C.  cold, dark night.  Went to bed with             “Wharton & near Mr Walker’s horse at 1 am.

Au Grand BOIS d’ Estaires.

Sunday 23rd May 1915:           Fine day.  Day spent in settling down in new quarters.  Had a row with Q.M.S. Shearman.  Absolute fool & nothing else.  Thoughts of those at home & in church at the time.

Monday 24th May 1915:         Letter from home.  Went to A.S.C. at Estaires for forage.  Spent afternoon lying out in sun & reading.  Lovely day.  Saw 3 aeroplanes shelled.  Loading ammunition at night.

Tuesday 25th May 1915:         Went to A.S.C. Estaires for forage.  In the afternoon, went with “Jock” Hatson & 1 team to La Gorgue for ½ ton coal.  Evening spent writing letter home.

Wednesday 26th May 1915:    Went to A.S.C. for forage in morning & afternoon spent reading & writing.

Thursday 27th May 1915:        Went to A.S.C. Estaires for forage.  Afternoon spent cleaning trousers with paraffin, reading papers & writing & sleeping.  “Nothing doing”.

Friday 28th May 1915:                        Went to A.S.C. Estaires for forage.  Afternoon asleep from 2 – 5.  on Guard all night.  Cold.

Saturday 29th May 1915:        Went to Estaires for forage.  Asleep all afternoon.  Out at night with T.A. Dean.

N.B.  Received wrist watch (illuminated at night) from home on 25th.  Ripping.

Au Grand Bois d’ Estaires.

Sunday 30th May 1915:           Went to Estaires for forage.  Afternoon reading & writing.

Monday 31st May 1915:          Went to Estaires for forage.  Afternoon asleep.  Out at night.

Watts letter 31 May 15

TILBURY MAIN DOCK EXTENSION CONTRACT

 

Contractor’s Office

Docks

Tilbury

Essex

TOPHAM, JONES & RAILTON LTD

31st May 1915

 

The Officer in Charge,

Recruiting Depot,

Orsett Road,

Grays

 

 

Dear Sir,

 

R.C. Watts has been employed  here as a carpenter for 10 ½ months.  We have always found him a good tradesman, and a reliable man, and can recommend him for the Flying Corps, which, we understand, he wishes to join.

 

Yours faithfully

 

Signature unreadable.

F Hammond letter 28 May 15

Landed France 9th May 1915

With cover to Mr E. Hammond, 9 Countess St., Stockport, Angleterre

FPO 28 Dated 29 My 15

Passed by censor No 1623 cachet M. Maxwell

 

62210 RE

4 Section 28th Bde

9th Scottish Div

Somewhere in F…

28 Mai 15

Dear Ma and Pa

I received your welcome letter OK yesterday.  I am still in the same village as I was last time I wrote.  The weather has picked up the last few days in fact yesterday was a scorcher.

I am on night work which is quite like old times.  We are billeted in an old mill and I sleep in the loft so have to climb the golden stairs.  The natives here can speak English pretty well in fact the babies know as much English as French so you will see plenty of English soldiers have passed this way.  We heard about the sad accident near Carlisle and also that Italy have at last thrown in their lot against the baby killers.

If you saw some of the destruction and heard the way the natives were treated when the Germans were here I think every workingman would only be too willing to do his little bit.  Some of the people having nothing to eat or drink for days.  The enemy seem to employ any means to stop our advance but I hope before long they will be played at their own game.  The chief drink in a morning is coffee which is sipped out of little china? bowls.  They are also very fond of salads but there seems to be a few things missing in it such as eggs etc.  Altho it is very appetising this time of the year.  I also saw them making chip potatoes or pommes de fritz as Gladys would call them.  You must not think I looked the last term up in the very handy book which Gladys sent me and which I greatly treasure but came out quite naturally altho I believe I haven’t spelt it correctly.  I received the cigarettes which Will sent me and am just trying one while I write this.  The first few days we landed I had to resort to the French matches which are a curse to civilisation.  You might buy a box of French matches and if you manage to get a light out of the whole box you cannot grumble.  However we have been supplied with some matches by the army we also have about 25 cigarettes per week given to us or a qr pound of tobacco which I consider is very good.

I got a letter from Geo today also I thought he would find a change when he left Southport where I think they kept them to long.  It was with surprise I heard of A. Boon’s Comn.  I don’t see why Jack shouldn’t have a try for one.  I think I will now conclude as I want to drop Geo a line.  Glad to hear you are all well and that things are going on OK.  I am in the best of health.  So good night or Bon Soir

Fred

H.M.S. “ALBION” Report of Grounding 24 May 15

H.M.S. “ALBION”

24th May 1915

 

Sir,

 

I regret to have to report that “ALBION” grounded on 23rd May.

 

The circumstances were as follows:

Enemy submarines had been reported in the vicinity on the previous day, and all Ships ordered to remain under way.  “ALBION’s” duty was to cover the right flank of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

RIBBLE was under “ALBION’s” orders.

 

It was a moonlight night, and I did not wish to run backwards and forwards on the same course, or to approach the outer patrols, whose positions I did not know, or to go too far off the Australian right flank.

 

I therefore selected two positions, one W.b.N 2 miles from Gaba Tepe, the other S.70.W  3 ½ miles from Gaba Tepe, and had the Ship steamed about between them.

 

I stationed RIBBLE on a line E ½ S from C. Kephalo patrolling.  The circumstances attending the loss of the  “GOLIATH” influenced me in wishing to have no small craft near.

 

Courses were not recorded, but logged as requisite.

 

At 2.45 the Ship was well clear of the land, but at 3.45 a.m. through some error of judgement which I cannot explain, the Ship grounded off Gaba Tepe.  The information required by Art: 984 of K.R. & A.I. is attached together with an account of subsequent proceedings.

 

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant

 

 

CAPTAIN (Act)

 

The Admiral Superintendent, Malta

The Vice Admiral Commanding,

Eastern Mediterranean Squadron,

The Senior Naval Officer, Gaba Tepe,

F Hammond letter 19 May 15

No 62210 RE

9th Sig Co

28th Bde

9th Scottish Div

B.E.F.

France

19th Mai 1915

Just got Gladys letter  Fred

 

Dear Mar & Pa

I think the above address will find me alright.

We are billeted in a little village within hearing of the big guns which have been powndering away.  I suppose since the German retreat from the Aisne.  The weather out here is very wet and inclined to be chilly still altho I have done a bit of marching I am in good fettle.  We went off rather hurriedly otherwise I would have written you and as we have been moving from place to place since arriving here I had no chance to write.  I don’t know what to say even now as this letter has to be censored and no mention of places or anything to do with army matters is allowed there is really very little to say.  I am learning French very slowly and wish I had got a little French book with the English pronounciation.

We stayed at a farm house at one village for 2 days.  Slept in the barn and had nice new laid eggs & fresh milk which reminds one of Cheshire.  What has become of Geo is he still at Southport?

When we crossed over Allcock and I had a prominent position on the bridge all night which was quite exciting and as dawn broke we found ourselves just outside one of the loveliest & largest port in N. France.  There are many traces of the Germans having been here.  Some of the buildings being riddled with bullet marks.

We rode for nearly two days in a cattle truck which was supposed to hold 40 hommes but we were not so bad as that.  I got a nice New Testament from Aunt Martha but I think it will soon get spoilt out here.  The only thing I miss here is there are no washing days.  If we want a wash we go to the village pump.  Well I think this is all at present.  Hoping you are all in the pink.  Remember me to all enquiring friends

Fred

G G Hammond letter May 15

3142 P/e G.G. Hammond

2/7 Bat Mc/r Regt

D Compy 15 Platoon

Crowborough

Sussex

Dear Father & Mother

As you will see from the above address we are now at Crowborough.  We left S.port at 4am. and arrived here at 4 pm.  There was quite a lot of tears shed in S.port when we left and the parting at Mrs Spencer’s & Mrs Brother’s were rather painful.  We are billeted in huts here and there are 70 men in our hut so we are packed like sardines.

I am only writing this short letter so you will know where we are but I want to ask Dad an important question.  Arthur Born has got a commission and expects to be home again in about a fortnight now.  I am going to apply for one at the end of this week if Pa is still willing to pay for the equipment.  Of course he will have the money refunded in due course by the government.

Perhaps it will not be necessary for him to pay anything at all as Arthur says your equipment is brought by the Battalion funds and then refunded as soon as the government grant is made to you.

I think it is quite possible to live on your pay as Arthur intends to do, but in case any money was required do you think you could provide me with a little perhaps Willis could.  I want to know as soon as possible so that I can go on with this business.

It is simply awful in this hut and we have had no food yet except army rations.  Bully beef & biscuits.  I will send one of the biscuits on in a day or so.  I fully intend applying for this commission as Arthur has got one and we are going to try to get together.  Do try to do your best, I don’t mean only with regard to the equipment but also with regard to a little allowance.  Shall I write to Willis and see if he could do anything, I shall have to conclude now.

Love George

Write soon