H.E. WITTY Nov 16

H.E. WITTY Nov 16

18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.

  1. Section

 

1st November 1916.  Wednesday.  On lines all the day from 6 a.m.  Rotten time in MAMETZ WOOD.  Last three days notable for shortness of rations.  ¼ loaf per day and bully. NO MAIL again.  New pn almost ready.

 

2nd November 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone during the day – also fatigues removing stores for dug-out erections etc.  MAIL up.  Letters  Mother N.T. and Miss Carr (re Tetley’s’ Memorial Scheme).  Ans 3rd.  Preparation for action.  Gun returns from Havre.  BADGY PACKS UP tomorrow. Lucky Beggar. First news of Eric Dunn’s death.  Learnt form a Bridlington Free Press that I picked up in a German dug-out in FRICOURT.

 

3rd November 1916.  Friday.  On teleph[one] 5 a.m.  Nothing doing rest of day.  Hun planes active.  German spy in vicinity.  All ranks warned to be on look out.  Lt in Garrison.  FRICOURT wood. Heavily shelled by 24 cm (60 rds).  Few casualties.  One man blown 50 feet into the air escapes with ‘shock’.  One falls 20 yards from our hut.  NO MAIL.  Fine day.

 

4th November 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone 9 – 1.  Had a bath down in the Bosche dug-out this afternoon.  On duty again tonight.  In action registration work near Bapaume.  Shippen at O.P.  Australians came out of the line today – In sorry plight.  Not so hardy as our boys. NO MAIL.

 

5th November 1916.  Sunday.  Very stormy day.  In action preparatory to the successful attack on Warlencourt & the Butte.  On telephone 1 – 5 am and 5 – 9 p.m.  Move up forward tomorrow.  Good mail.  Letters R., Bee, Harry, Dorothy, Douglas & paper from Scott.  Ans.

 

6th November 1916.  Monday.  Removed to new billets at last.  Oh my what a ‘home’.  12 of us in a dug-out (Bunks) 12’ x 8’.  I am sleeping near the roof about 18” to roll into bed.  Good view of Mametz Wood opposite.  Fired 12 rounds on Amn Dump in LOHDART WOOD.  Letters from Alice, R., Gladys, Wally Taylor.  Papers from home.  ANS on 7th.

 

7th November 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone duty for 24 hours.  A wet miserable day.  Spent a good night in my new abode altho’ much difficulty in rising etc.  Nothing of interest today.  Pcl and letter R.  Letters Ira, Scott F.C.M.   Had a cold night on duty.

 

8th November 1916.  Wednesday.  A blizzard of a day.  In action on dug-outs.  Aeroplane observation.  Putrid shoot owing to gun sinking 10 rounds none within 200 yds qtg.  NO MAIL.  Met a Scarbro’ boy in 5th Yorks.  Gave me all news of the boys.  Hope to see them shortly.

 

9th November 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone (24 hours).  In action on M.6.a.7.0.  Fired 15 Rds.  Satisfactory shoot.  Also one “simultaneous” rd.  Hun planes and batteries very active.  A lovely sunny day. NO MAIL.  Pay.

10th November 1916.  Friday.  On battery.  Good shooting today.  Intense air activity both British and Bosche.  Hun battery washed out.  Met St. Martin’s man who directed me to 5th YORKS camp.  Boys up the line but luckily caught Walter Witty just before he left.  Is now a “runner and sniper”.  Fine day.  NO MAIL.

 

11th November 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone all the day.  Good MAIL.  Letters Mother, Mag, Ma, Mr. Leslie, Mr. Carter. A. Houham, N.T., (Pc) Norman.  Another fine day though cold.  Not in action owing to lack of Amn.  Issue of winter clothing.  Fur coats etc.

 

12th November 1916.  Sunday.  On O.P. with Mr. Tribe.  Walked both ways.  Beast of a journey.  Very dull and quiet on the whole. Eaucourt well strafed.  Fine day – quite warm.  Pcl from Hilda.  Letters R. and G.  ANS (by P.C.).  Boddy goes sick with bad knee.

 

13th November 1916.  Monday.  On telephone – nothing else doing. Wilson taken to Hosp with “Bright’s disease”.  Very fine day.  LX moves up to new pn.  NO MAIL.  Very warm day (for November) but very foggy.  Received news of capture of Beaumont Hamel where the W. Yorks were badly cut up on July 1st.

 

14th November 1916.  Tuesday.  In action – fired 20 rounds on the Butte.  Good shooting.  Very little doing.  Many prisoners taken near B-H.  Walked to FRICOURT twice.  LX settle down here. NO MAIL. Owing to shelling of ALBERT.

 

15th November 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone – intensely cold.  NO shooting as tgs out of range owing to strong head wind.  All lines completed to both guns.  Xchange and H.Q. NO MAIL.  Departure of 48, 26, 50 and 60.  Shall we move next?

 

16th November 1916.  Thursday.  On the line to old position and new Pn.  Called to see Bott at Railway Cottage.  Very fine day but intensely cold.  Fired 20 rounds on the BUTTE.  Good shooting. NO MAIL.  A.A.s excellent pcl.  Cally at O.P.  Had a tempr headache which slightly eased toward night.

 

17th November 1916.  Friday.  Nothing doing much.  Intensely cold weather.  Spent afternoon on fatigues and collecting wood from MAMETZ WOOD.  Walked down to FRICOURT in evening for Mail (5 miles).  Letters and Books from R.  Papers from home.  Poor rations lately.  Snow falls during the night.

 

18th November 1916.  Saturday.  A.A at O.P.  Biscuits today.  No bread.  On telephone with Calley.  Glad to say better rations came up today for tomorrow,  bully for dinner though. NO MAIL.  A sudden fall in temperature leads to drizzling rain which changes the snow covered ground into the customary mud.

 

19th November 1916.  Sunday.  Off duty.  Spent greater part of day in bed.  Weather still bad.  No shooting. NO MAIL.  Detachments spend day building dug-outs for LX.  Read “My Indian Queen”.

 

 

20th November 1916.  Monday.  On telephone – Received TIMES WEEKLY this morning.  Shippen at O.P.  very cold tonight as we have no stove.  Improvement in rations altho’ bread still scarce.  Finished “A ransom for LONDON” (Fletcher).  A.I. NO MAIL.

21st November 1916.  Tuesday.  Off duty.  Walked up to Railway Cottage to take Bott’s Mail.  Yesterday’s mail arrived this morning.  Letters N.T., Home and Grace.  Walked down to FRICOURT tonight but found no mail had arrived.  Warm but foggy.  NO O.P on ac of fog.

 

22nd November 1916.  Wednesday.  Another thick foggy day.  Very little doing.  5 “leaves” come in tonight to leave Albert Sat.  good Mail.  Pcl & letter (R.) and also pcl from home.  Letters Eric, Douglas & Kathie (P.C.).  ANS.  Much warmer.

 

23rd November 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone duty – Fired 22 Rounds C.B.  not very satisfactory.  Run by ”Subs”.  A fine warm day.  Surprising.  NO MAIL.  Dump moving to BAZENTIN.  5 men to go on leave Sat.  will they manage it?  Wrote County Correspondence College.

 

24th November 1916.  Friday.  Commencement again of “refresher” classes “Lamps and Flags”.  Rather chilly and foggy.  Difficulties in drawing rations from B-N.  letter R. and Badgy.  ANS. (former with P.C.).

 

25th November 1916.  Saturday.  Very wet miserable day.  Spent most of it in bed.  More excitement as 5 more leaves have come in.  rumours of a move forward to Delville Wood to be within range of Bapaume.  Letters N.T., Scott and Gilbert.  ANS.

 

26th November 1916.  Sunday.  On telephone with A.A.  Candlin, Winter, Banks,  Agony, and Salt go on leave.  Ten gone.  Hopes rising.  Wet miserable day again.  Letters Frank (aw) R., Ma, Home and Gladys.  ANS.

 

27th November 1916.  Monday.  An awful day both as to weather and my internal arrangements.  In bed all the day with cold, flu and diarrhoea.  Pcl from home Papers “Times” and “Scott”  P.C. (Bridge).  Read ‘Aleans Wife’.

 

28th November 1916.  Tuesday.  Another miserable foggy wet day.  Nothing doing. NO MAIL.  Felt much better today though still groggy.  Another day bin bed.

 

29th November 1916.  Wednesday.  On duty with A.A.  Feel much improved.  Alford made temp Captain.  Some excitement. No Mail again.  Weather still foggy and miserable.

 

30th November 1916.  Thursday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing

 

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War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Nov 1916

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

NOVEMBER 3, 1916.

Brigade War Diary.

The 2.6” Newton Trench Mortars were placed in position on our front opposite the Railway Salient. These mortars co-operated in the Artillery Scheme for this raid, which was the first occasion on which these mortars had ever been used on the British Front.

 

LEAVE.

Nov. 3rd to 12th 1916.

2nd ARMY.

2nd ANZAC CORPS.

34th DIVISION.

175th BRIGADE R.F.A.

“A” BATTERY.

 

Lieutenant A.A. Laporte Payne A/175 Brigade R.F.A. is granted leave of absence from 3-11-16 to 12-11-16. with permission to proceed to London.

 

W.H. Hamilton Fletcher.

Lieut. Adjt.

for Lieut-Colonel

Commanding 175th Brigade R.F.A.

2-11-16.

In the Field.

 

Recommended: W. Furnival.

Lieut-Col.

 

Sanctioned: A.D. Kirby.

Brig Gen.

 

(Yellow ticket)

H.M. Forces Overseas (in uniform).

COMBINED LEAVE AND RAILWAY TICKET.

First Class.

Staff Captain R.A.

34th Division.

Extended to 13 Nov. 1916.

 

SATURDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 11, 1916.

Returned from leave. Stayed the night with R.M.L.P. at 8, Talbot Road, Bayswater. W.

 

NOVEMBER 14, 1916.

I returned last night from leave, now but a dream. We exist for half a year solely for the purpose of living for one week.  Reg and I had breakfast on Sunday morning at 6.30 a.m., and he came to see me off at Victoria station.  I met a fellow I knew returning.  We had a couple of hours at Folkestone, which we spent on the Leas.  It was very calm, not like the journey over.  We left Boulogne at R a.m. the next morning, and arrived at the wagon line at noon, where I had a bath and shave.  I rode to the gun line in the evening.  Everybody was in a very bad way, and instead of being cheered up as I hoped I was still more depressed.  One sub was in hospital with influenza.  Another had rheumatism so badly that he could not ride his horse.  The remaining one was fed up because he had all the work to do.  the Captain was in a bad temper as he had fallen out rather badly with the Colonel.  What a cheery crowd!

We are in the same place but may move at any time.

I have just finished censoring letters, filling in returns and intelligence reports.

 

NOVEMBER 16, 1916.

It is bitterly cold here now. There is no fire and a keen wind blowing.  Last night I was down in the trenches acting as Liaison Officer.

 

November 20, 1916.

R.P.

We are just as busy, and there is a lot of night firing again. Last night we had a church parade.  The Captain and I went.  Afterwards the padre came to dinner with us.

Your Christmas puddings will be most acceptable. Another man is providing the turkeys.  We must make it as like Christmas as possible.

It is very cold observing now. Three of us take it in half days at a time between us.

 

NOVEMBER 23, 1916.

I am alone at the battery tonight. One sub is in the trenches and two others have gone out to dine.  A furious strafe has just started.  One of our new windows has just gone with the concussion.  A bullet went through another and also the door of my bedroom, which is most annoying.  Our telephone wire has been cut and the wretched linesmen have been sent out to patrol the line.  We have not opened fire yet but expect a message from the trenches at any moment.

 

November, 23, 1916.

R.M.L.P.

The records are much appreciated. Thanks very much.  We are still in the same place.  The weather is foul, much too cold and wet.  The Boche has shown unwelcome attentions to our mess.  They put a bullet through our window, and also through my bedroom door and into the wall beyond the bed while we were in mess last night.  These bullets which are overs from the trenches, generally at night, often hit our wall, but I wish they would not come inside.

 

NOVEMBER 26, 1916.

Last night I was in the trenches for two days’ tour of duty. My servant brought my letters down.

 

November 27, 1916.

R.P.

Things are going on fairly well out here. It is a beautifully fine day today, but much colder.

I have started a stock pot for the men. I have not the least idea how it is done, but I have told the cook to put everything into it from bones to brown paper.

The trenches are in a horrible condition. The land is one vast bog.

 

NOVEMBER 27, 1916.

My name has been sent in by the Colonel for a Battery’s Commander’s course at Shoeburyness, and I was hoping to go to England, but the damned General stopped it.  For three days I dreamt about it, and planned all sorts of things.  I could do murder with the greatest delight.  It is now 6.30, p.m. Sunday night.

 

Monday morning 28th.

It is a glorious day today, but much colder. I am going to the trenches this afternoon with a signaller.  I have started a stock pot for the battery.  I don’t know in the least how it is done; but I told the cook to put in everything from bones to brown paper.

55 Div Artillery 29 Nov 1916

Appendix C

 

H.Q. 55th Div Arty

 

With reference to operations this evening I beg to report that the Artillery bombardment and barrage was excellent.  A few shots of one battery were seen to fall short and this was corrected after two minutes.  The 2 inch T.M.s fired 149 rounds and successfully cut the enemy’s wire.  The enemy retaliated within a few minutes of the opening of our barrage with T.M.s on our Stokes Mortars near Junction Trench (one gun being knocked out after firing about 12 rounds).  His F.A. barrage seemed to be concentrated on our front line in rear of crater 2A; after half an hour the enemy was concentrating on our support line.

The effect of the Heavy Artillery was observed to be especially good, and the barrage, from the reports of our own men, put up by the Field Artillery left nothing to be desired and the bursts appeared effective. German prisoners state that our bombardment was terrible and quite a number of dead Germans were found in the trenches as a result of our bombardment.

Telephonic communications between Liaison Officer and the Group were good throughout the barrage.

The barrage according to all concerned was good throughout the operation.

I should like to bring to notice the names of every battery commander who was engaged in these operations.

They are;-

Major G.B. JOHNSON

Major J.H. FOSTER

Capt. L.M.SING

Lieut W. EILLS

Lieut T.B. TOD

Lieut J.A. RITCHIE

I would enpertrise [especially] mention Major J.H. FOSTER who acted as Liaison Officer with the O.C. enterprise throughout and who sent back most valuable information.

Also I would mention Lieut. D.M. RITCHIE my orderly officer who was responsible for the excellent telephonic communication throughout.

I should like to add that all Battery Commanders had a very hard job for the 20 minutes of the bombardment.

 

**** Lt. Col R.F.A.

Comdg Rt. Group

 

29/11/16

A.A. Laporte Payne letter 27 Nov. 1916

A.A. Laporte Payne letter 27 Nov. 1916

 

B.E.F.

27.xi.16

 

Dearest,

 

The entirely unexpected has happened and I have received another delightful letter from you. Thank you so much for it – how feeble a mere ‘thank you’ sounds; but I have never meant it more.  My joy at receiving it was not altogether unmixed with other feelings for it made my disappointment all the more.  I will tell you about it.

 

You say in your letter that you would like to see me again and ask when I expect leave again. My name had been sent in by the Colonel for a Battery Commander’s Course at Shoeburyness and I was hoping to go to England and you again (one afternoon with you alone).  The thought had made me quite crazy.  For three days I dreamt about it and planned all sorts of things and then that damned brute the General stopped it.  I could do murder with great delight.  What a lot I could have explained and I should have seen you once again under very different conditions.  Then to receive your letter!  I must have been thinking about getting home to you again at the time you were writing to me.  But perhaps after all it is the best for you that I could not get away – and I must grin and bear it.  You say I can do as I like; but I can’t because I love you.

 

You ask me for a photo – and could I ever refuse you anything? You may have as many as you like; but you ought to surround yourself beautiful things and not with gargoyles, unless you own to the philosophy of the beauty & the beast!

 

At last I have someone I can write to as I want and say what I really think. I am going to write all sorts of nonsense that is very precious to me, because I know that no one else will ever I know and because I love you.  To others I must be the same – politely sarcastic and cold as usual but not to you when we are alone.  You are the first I ever loved.  I have never been serious before.

 

I may have played the fool but that only helps me to realise how much you are to me.

 

I wonder what you are doing now. It is 6.30 pm Sunday night.  How many 6.30 pms Sunday nights I have waited for you to go to your seat at Christchurch.  You little knew how angry I was when you did not come in.  those good antediluvian days – and now – C’est la guerre!

 

I did not mean to say that it is for your sake as well as my own that I hesitate to write to you as I feel.  Cut out the ‘as well as my own’.

 

Yes! I shall certainly get tired of hearing so often from you – especially when you put such ‘silly things’!

 

You do put silly things when you write like that.

 

I am cold & homesick to no night; but not so miserable as I might be. Are you thinking of me to night, darling?

 

The Captain wants to know what the matter is. First I am up in the clouds & then in the dumps.  Shall I tell him?  I don’t think so.  I could not tell anyone else.

 

If I get the blues I read in your letters – the really nice ones! They are getting so dirty.

 

I am still burning insense to you my ritual consists in smoking your cigarettes in front of your photo. I wonder how many different persons you are.  You say I don’t know the real you.  But there are lots of ‘yous’ and each one is better than the other.  Some silly yet sensible man said something about variability being one of the virtues of a woman.  It avoids the crude requirements of polygamy.  So long as you have one good woman you are sure to have a spiritual harem.  What rot I am talking – but then you see I am in love.

 

I should like to have an album of snaps of you in all the different moods and ways of you. Quite impossible!

 

One day I am going to make you furiously angry – but only when I can make it up in person and not with pen & ink poorly.

 

Only one thing I am afraid of and that is whether you are certain or not. You must be quite mad to fall in love with me.  Aren’t you in love with love and not with me whom you know so little?  Here’s a motto for you – Nihil praeferendum honistati.

 

I must not write so many letters to you as you really cannot have so many arriving by post with my name on the outside – you are quite right (as always) in putting Esqr.

 

Monday morning

 

It is a glorious day to day, but much colder. I am alone at the battery.  I should love a walk with you.  I am going to the trenches this afternoon with a signaller – what a substitute!

 

This morning I have been wandering around like a ‘mischievous elf’ I have started a ‘stock pot’ for the battery. I don’t know in the least how it is done; but I told the cook to put in everything from bones to brown paper.

 

I must close now. I hope you are well & Mrs Cross & everybody.

 

With all my love

 

Ever yours

 

Archie

 

Alf Smith’s letter 27 Nov 1916

 

Mr. A Smith,

C/O Mrs Griggs,

24 Parkeston Rd.,

Parkeston

Harwich

 

Nov 27th 16

 

Dear Father

 

Here we are again back in the old spot.  This is a very quiet little place but it is only about 30 min walk from Dovercourt, so I am generally down there in the evening.  I was looking forward to seeing some of my old friends here but they have all been sent away at different times.  So far we have had a very easy time much better than Felixstowe.

I am glad to say I have managed to get into a very comfortable billet again, the person in the house is very good she has made a grand fire for us each evening it is even more comfortable than the other place.

Thank you for your letter; it came just a few minutes before I left.

Fancy Albert Taylor being home again, I should very much liked to have seen him. How has he been getting on I should like to know?  I hope they are all well.

It is very good of you to mention about sending a parcel it will be very acceptable. The grub is very bad here worse than Felixstowe; but I make up for it when I go down town.  I had an egg, toast, & cakes for my tea yesterday.

Well I have not very much news to tell you so I think I must finish now.

I believe we get six days leave for Christmas, but it will either be before or after nobody is allowed to be away on Christmas or Boxing day so I am looking forward to seeing you then if not before.

I hope you are well also Jess, Ethel & Winnie.

Well Au revoir

 

With much love

Your devoted

Son

 

P.S. I had a letter from Ciss I am glad she is getting on alright; have you been over there yet?

A.A. Laporte Payne letter 26 Nov 1916

A.A. Laporte Payne letter 26 Nov 1916

 

France

Nov 26 1916

 

Muriel Darling,

 

Thank you so very very much for your lovely long letter which has made me quite happy again, and was more than I expected or deserved. It arrived last night while I was in the trenches for my two days tour of duty and my servant had strict instructions to bring your letter down to me if it arrived.  Your letters are all I have to live for now.

 

The photo came as well. It is now in front of me as I write.  How I wish you were here in person.

 

But will you ever forgive me for my last horrid letter to you? Of course I was not angry with you – how could I be? – but I was disappointed at not receiving the other sort.  After so anxiously waiting for your letter – cursing delays – I said what I felt.

 

It was anger with myself more than anything. Now I am all remorse.

 

Don’t take any notice of my childish note, please darling. At least I was honest in that I wrote what I felt at the time – an unreasoning anger with circumstances of my own making you see, if I did not care so much that I should not have minded.  You see how selfish I am.  I want you all so much that I get so irritable – especially out here.

 

There are two sides of me. Generally, I hope, I love you so much that  I could and would give you up if I saw that it would be best for you that I did so.  And I believe now that I ought.  That is why I have acted as I did for so long but I could not go away entirely and then I was weak enough to give way and please myself.

 

Haven’t you known how hard it has been & how near I have been to what I did that memorable Saturday evening, many times before? You see when I am away I say I will love you as I ought to do – entirely unselfishly, but when I see you I generally almost give way & say “I don’t care” but all the time I do, I do.

 

The thought of leaving you after that week was too much for me and now my longing for you is too much for me.

 

Muriel can’t you see how much better it would be for you if I loved you in the first way. All real love must be sacrifice, and I can’t, I can’t, but someday I suppose I shall have to.

 

You make me smile when you write of yourself as a ‘rotter’ and an ‘ordinary person’. I have met a few people before & after I met you (I haven’t forgotten that day – I wonder if you remember it – I must tell you all about it one day) – and I know – so don’t fill up your letters with that sort of thing again.

 

Fancy me, who have played the fool for so long and scoffed at love, being in love! But, heaven knows why you are too.  I am the happiest being on earth and yet at the same time the most miserable.

 

Why do you love me, Muriel? I never tried to make you.  All I dared to do was to see you sometimes and I always thought I was such a dull person at Banchfield and that you were taking pity on me.

 

I must hurry up as I shall not be in time for the post orderly and I want this to go this evening.

 

One thing is worrying me & that is about H.G. Did you refuse him in July?  And why?  He is a much better man than I am Muriel but even he is & never can be good enough for you.  What annoys me is his audacity in asking you and then I think of my own presumption – and then refuse to think at all.

 

Thank you so very much for having your photo taken again & for me too.

 

Also the small photo of a place that will be always sacred for me. Thank you too for the box of cigarettes.  I am smoking them now.  Oh! for the summer, the garden the moon and you & I.  well, if I never get that it will have been worth living for and, who knows, perhaps the other thing too.  I remember when I first came out my thoughts were of you and the old home & ever since you & they have made all this worth while.

 

I must close now or I shall be late. I will write again tonight.

 

All my love my darling

 

Yours always

 

Archie

Alf Smith postcard 24 Nov 1916

Postcard to T. Smith Esq., 24, Palmerstone Rd., Bowes Park, London N.  Postmarked Felixstowe S.O. Suffolk 2 PM 24 NO 16.  Also endorsed Enteritis.

 

Nov 24th 16

 

Dear Father

I hope you received my letter.

We are leaving tomorrow Saturday for Harwich; will let you know my address as soon as I get there.

I hope you are all well.

With best wishes from Alf