A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

 

B.E.F.

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.

Advertisements

H.E. WITTY Oct 16

H.E. WITTY Oct 16

18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.

  1. Section

 

1st October 1916.  Sunday.  Most energetic day – Left at 7.30 for TRONES WOOD to dig dug-outs for the H.Q. worked hard until 6 p.m. and then had a six mile walk.  Well fagged out ere camp was reached.  Grim relics in TRONES WOOD of the fight.  English and German dead mixed up.  Young English Officer lying there.  Pockets rifled and buttons and adornments taken away.  Went to pick up a German boot & found a leg inside it.  Whew!!!!  Much fighting in the air and intense artillery duels continuing. NO MAIL.

 

2nd October 1916.  Monday.  A miserable wet day.  In the office in the morning and part of the afternoon.  Spent the rest of the day in the “bed” reading.  Letters R. & Gladys.  ANS.

 

3rd October 1916.  Tuesday.  Nothing doing yesterday for me.  Working parties at Mountauban and Trones Wood.  Very dull and showery. NO MAIL.  New Biscuits have arrived.

 

4th October 1916.  Wednesday.  Turned out 6.30 a.m. and went to Flash to remove camp.  Very hard work.  Finished 4 p.m.  Heavy rain in the morning.  Cleared in afternoon.  Harper’s M.D. (at Trones Wood). NO MAIL.

 

5th October 1916.  Thursday.  In the office.  Windy but no rain.  In the office.  Rumours of a move.  Nothing doing.  All packed up ready for going.  No Mail.  Interesting conversation with French soldier.

 

6th October 1916.  Friday.  Parades 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for inspection purposes.  Busy in the office.  Word from Rouen that ‘Barney’ was en route for Blighty.  Fine day again.  Left X returned to camp in Fricourt.  Scarbro’ Post from Bee re trawlers.

 

7th October 1916. Saturday.  Left the Loop at 3.30 p.m. after an idle day.  After many trials reached MEAULTE (4 miles) at 7 p.m. NO MAIL.  French Officer gives us entertainment on Badgy’s Bugle and trumpet.  Fine day but wet night.  Stayed here over night.

 

8th October 1916.  Sunday.  Heavy rain.  Still in Meaulte.  Saw 3 guns captured from Germans.  Apparently Belgian guns manufactured in Liege.  Back to Fricourt again and installed in another German dug-out.  Apparently this one has been some Headquarters as it has been fitted up with electric light, heating etc.  A chute provides for ventilation.  Previous occupant has left his name for his successors.  E. Einderits.  I wonder what his fate has been.  Perhaps the shell which broke in the corner has his name on it.  Saw some prisoners today working at Meaulte, two of whom spoke English well.  One thought our ‘tanks’ equalled their Zepps in “Frightfulness”.  Splendid Mail.  Letters & Books (R.).  letter and papers (Mother).  Letters Bee, Douglas, Mrs. Smith, N.T. and Scott.  To be answered tomorrow.

 

9th October 1916.  Monday.  Tween found dead in bed this a.m.  Verdict & cause at present unknown.  Fine day.  Kelly at O.P.  meet Bottrill again.  On telephone.  Ans yesterday’s correspondence.  NO MAIL.  Reported capture of Bapaume.

 

10th October 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone line in morning – saw Hun sniper’s post – NO MAIL. – Very little doing.  On night duty.  Fine day.  Saw Maj. About speaking to Colonel re Commission.

 

11th October 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone otherwise nothing doing.  4 on working parties.  Letter R. and G. and shirts from Gamages.  ANS.  Fine day.  Warned for O.P.

 

12th October 1916.  Thursday.  Turned out at 4.30 a.m. for O.P.  Motored to BAZENTIN- LE-GRAND and walked to O.P. near FLERS via HIGH WOOD.  Had a splendid view of GOURDECOURT, EAUCOURT, LE SARS, WARLIENCOURT.  BAPAUME about 6000 yds.  On a clear day time by clock easily distinguished.  When shall we get it?  Saw the boys attack at 2 p.m. after a terrible bombardment – not a casualty as far as German front line.  Amazed at the splendid way the boys walked across.  The treatment of a German who rushed out of his trench.  Am wondering what today’s result is.  Returned 6 p.m.  Saw many wounded, 80 prisoners passed the O.P.  NO MAIL.  Pay up.

 

13th October 1916.  Friday.  On telephone.  Fine day.  80 prisoners passed today.  No report of yesterday.  Arrival of 44 Siege and 53 Siege.  Good Mail.  Letters Marshall, Kathie, R. (from Crossgates) Frank, M, J.B. (R.).  Books (N.T.) ANS.  Had a bath underground!!

 

14th October 1916.  Saturday.  On duty.  On telephone.  Gill at O.P.  Fine day.  Prisoners passing.  O.C. told that Colonel intended to recommend me for a commission in R.E. Signals.  Wait & see.  Letters Mag, Mother, N.J. & Alice.  Also pd from Home.  Ans.

 

15th October 1916.  Sunday.  On telephone – very cold – issue of winter blankets – Letters R. and Ma.  Ans.  Reported attack – no news.

 

16th October 1916.  Monday.  Very little doing – Rare sight today.  German aeroplane over the camp.  Shells drop in the vicinity.  Gun to go to Havre again.  Fine day tho’ chilly.  Letter from Mr Taylor.  ANS.  Calley at O.P.  intensely cold.

 

17th October 1916.  Tuesday.  Very unsatisfactory day.  On duty 3 to 6 a.m. and stayed in bed until 11 a.m.  had a walk up to left X in afternoon.  Quaker Oats for supper and bed at 7.0 p.m.  on duty again midnight to find a pouring rain.  Much warmer.  Letter R. to be answered later.

 

18th October 1916.   Wednesday.  On telephone otherwise very little doing.  Wet day and cold.  Had a tour of the various canteens.  ANZAC’s jolly good.  NO MAIL.  Winter holder downwards reverted as formation to be made in Group.

 

 

19th October 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone in the morning.  Wire from 4th Army that we had to move to HAVRE.  Modified to the extent that only artificers and guard were to accompany guns.  Much tribulation.  exceedingly cold wet miserable day.  Shippen at O.P.  Moved into another dug-out.  NO MAIL.

 

20th October 1916.  Friday.  Frightfully cold this morning when I went on duty at 3 a.m. Ugh!!!  Stayed in bed until 11 a.m. had a stroll to O.P.F.  Heavy German counterattacks fail.  Glorious clear day.  Enemy aircraft active – two brought down in view of Fricourt.  Letters Mother and G.  ANS. tonight when on duty.

 

21st October 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone.  Another intensely cold day.  Reported success near Warlencourt.  Rumours of leave!!  Improved and made most comfortable our little dug-out.  (in the Somme).  Fitted up a sleeping bag on my bed.  Hope it is a success.  Spent last night rubbing myself to help the circulation.  Finished Mrs. Firth-Brassey (Jolly good). Mail.  Letters R., N.T., F.Aus & Mr. Carman.  ANS.

 

22nd October 1916.  Sunday.  On telephone 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.  Very cold.  My sleeping bag well tested last night proved a perfect success.  Mr. Mallins joins 48 Siege on temporary duty. Reading ‘Hocken & Hunker’ (Q) NO MAIL. Caudlin at LE SARS O.P.  Spent day ratting and playing football and then suddenly discovered it was Sunday.  Shall I ever become accustomed to the old fashioned Sunday?

 

23rd October 1916.  Monday.  On telephone last night and during the day.  Cold slightly modified.  Inspection of gas helmets, field dressings etc. by Major Read.  “Profit & Loss” by Oxenham.  Very good. Mail up.  Pcl (home).  Letters Miss R., Scott, Mr. Carter.  Ans.

 

24th October 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone during early morning – rain sets in with an appreciable fall in the temperature.  Spent the afternoon in bed.  As nothing doing inclement weather stopping operations.  Letter from Humberstone.  Ans.  List of first 10 men for leave sent in to H.Q.  Will it materialise?  Reading “At the Foot of the Rainbow”.  Bott to move to A.J. in BAZENTIN WOOD.

 

25th October 1916.  Wednesday.  Telephone midnight onwards.  In bed part of morning.  Spent afternoon reading “Queed” (Harrison).  Exceedingly wet.  Miserable day.  On duty 6-9 (Pay day).  Letter R. Ans.  Rumours of an early move forward.

 

26th October 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone 9 to 12 – and also at midnight onwards – Weather showery and chilly.  ‘Rumour of Leave’ still in atmosphere but no materialisation at present.  Finished “Queed” absolutely it.  Reading “8days” (Forrest).  Things very quiet on the whole. NO MAIL.

 

27th October 1916.  Friday.  Midnight to 3 a.m.  rather cold wet and miserable.  On telephone 5 – 9 tonight.  Very little doing owing to inclement weather. NO MAIL. Spent morning in bed!  Only thing to pass the time.

 

 

28th October 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone 6 hrs as usual.  Clear cold windy day – Excellently for drying.  Working party goes to BAZENTIN WOOD for railway construction.  Obtained a new tunic from Q.M.S. NO MAIL.  Shell drops in 10 Siege Officers’ Mess.  2 killed (Lt. Reed over in 18 and Major of 21st Heavies who was a guest).  3 wounded and O.C. suffering from severe shell shock.

 

29th October 1916.  Sunday.  On working party constructing light railways in BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND for the transport of amn direct to batteries.  Heavy rain and a rotten task – finished at 3 p.m. and arrived in camp 4.15.  good mail.  Letters R., Ma, Home, Kathie, Gilbert (pc) and Marshall.  ANS.

 

30th October 1916.  Monday.  Walked to O.P. via BAZENTIN-LE-PETIT & HIGH.  Awful day of rain and mud (up to the knees).  Had a good view of  BAPAUME to the left of which easily distinguished Germans walked along the main road.  Three shells dropped in vicinity of O.P. one to left, one to right and one behind in a radius of 20 yds.  Ugh!!  Walked as far as CONTALMAISON on return journey where was met by car.  Met young Bennett in BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND – looked well with his three stripes.  Car stuck on nearing FRICOURT and we had to walk to bty.  Change.  A wash and tea made a new man of me.  I have grave doubts that B– will fall this winter.  The Butte looks as impregnable as ever.  Letter from N.T.  ANS.

 

31st October 1916.  Tuesday.  Collapse of dug-out entrance 3 a.m.  Had to dig ourselves out removing about a ton of earth.  Repairing the damage in the morning.  On telephone in afternoon.  At H.Q. in evening.  Visit of enemy planes tonight bomb dropping.  Destruction of lorries and A.S.C. canteen. NO MAIL.

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne Oct 1916

WAR DIARY  of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

October 6, 1916.

R.P.

I hope the last Zep over London did not bomb you at all.  I confess that I am not over anxious about you as the chance is remote that a bomb falls near you, and I know you are sensible and keep in doors when the stray bits from the anti-aircraft shells keep dropping about.

The German airmen will not have much taste for raiding London if they are likely to be brought down, and most of their shells fall harmlessly.

We are not having such a quiet time now. On the Somme some progress seems to have been made.  But this awful weather must be terribly trying for the men in the trenches.  I am thankful that we are not now living in a small, leaky chalky dirty dug-out.  Here as elsewhere we are keeping the Boche occupied with bombardments and raids, as you can see from the papers.

I do wish we could get into Germany.  We should have a glorious time.  I should not mind blowing up their, houses, factories and buildings or turning their country side into a shell pocked desert.

When we came out of the Somme area it was strange to see green fields, trees and some houses left standing.  Down there as far as we could see from the battery position there was nothing but raw tortured ground, a few stricken trees where once a wood had been, or a mound of red and white rubble which once had been a church, a hall or chateau.  Shell holes did not need looking for; it was hard to find a square inch that was not part of a shell hole.

I enclose two photographs taken at a small French photographers in a town behind the lines when we were last out of action. I look very gloomy, but we were not feeling at all depressed at the time.  The three other officers are Lieutenants D. Lowden, W. Rainford, and A. Twyford.

 

(Oct. 6/7, 1916)

FRANKS’ FORCE ARTILLERY, OPERATION ORDER No. 4.

4th October 1916.

Reference FRANKS’ FORCE Artillery Operation Order No. 3.

  1. Raids therein mentioned will be carried out on night 6/7th . The 5th Australian Division & 34th Division are simultaneously carrying out dummy raids.
  2. Raids will be as follows:-

(a) 103rd Infantry Brigade, strength  – 2 officers 30 O.R.  Objective, Railway Salient I.11.a.

(b) 8th Australian Brigade, strength – 3 officers 59 O.R.  Objective – Chicken Run C.17.a.

  1. Zero time will be issued later. This is the hour at which bombardment commences.
  2. Force time will be given to 103rd and 8th Australian Infantry Brigades at 5, p.m., & 10, p.m. on 6th Infantry Brigades will arrange to synchronise the watches of their Artillery Groups.
  3. Arrangements for counter-battery work have been made with 2nd ANZAC Heavy Artillery.

 

(sd.) A.P.Y. LANGHORNE.

Captain, R.G.A.,

B.M., R.A., Franks’ Force.

(To Right Group, R.A. Franks’ Force Artillery.)

 

(Oct. 6/7., 1916)

RIGHT GROUP ARTILLERY SCHEME.

Night 6th/7th October 1916.

Proposed Raid on Railway Salient.

Trench Map BOIS GRENIER 36 N.W. 4.

Preliminary Bombardment.

 

1st Phase.  From Zero to Zero x 5.

D/175 Targets   I.11.a.60.30.)             15 rds. per gun.

59.00.)

75.25.)

87.00.)

 

2” T.M.B.        I.11.c.60.95.)               20 rounds.

a.60.35.)

83.20.)

87.00.)

 

A/175 Front Trench

I.11.a.58.00. to)          15 rds. per gun.

I.11.a.60.30.   )

 

B/175 (3 guns.) Front Trench

I.11.a.38.20 to                        do

I.11.a.60.30.

 

A/152 Front System from

I.11.c.6.6. to

I.11.c.45.00.

and C.Ts leading into that sector.

 

6” Stokes Mortars.

From Zero to Zero x1.

Cut wire, intense rate of fire at

I.11.a.30.28. and I.11.a.32.30.

2nd Phase.

 

A/175. Lift to Chord Line from I.11.c.98.60. to I.11.a.60.30..  20 rounds per gun.

2nd Phase.  Zero x5 to Zero x 15.

 

3rd Phase.  Zero x 15 to Zero x 20.

A/175 as before 10 rounds per gun.

 

4th Phase.  Till Infantry give the signal to stop 1round per gun per minute.

Stop.

 

5th Phase.  At a signal to be arranged by the Liaison Officer, after our infantry return, all guns will fire bursts of two rounds of gun fire on targets as in 1st Phase.

 

Liaison.

Captain A.C. Crookshank, R.F.A. at Headquarters of Right Company, Right Battalion, 2nd Lieut. F.H. Webb, R.F.A. (F.O.O.) with O.C. Right Company at a point to be arranged later.  These Officers will take two telephonists and one telephone with them and report at 9.30, p.m.

(sd.) W. Furnivall,

Lieut Colonel,

Commanding Right Group.

Franks’ Force. Artillery.

2-10-16

(Units A, B, & D/175. Bde A/152 Bde Y/34th T.M.B.)

(Oct. 6/7, 1916)

The bombardment began at 1.25, a.m., and the guns fired the first three phases up to 1.45, a.m. mostly A.X. (H.E.). Then up to the rocket, when stopped.  Ten minutes after the rocket fired two rounds gunfire with shrapnel.

80 fuze, Cor 164.

 

( ? “SOCKS” at 9.30, p.m.

Capt McClellan at Inf Bde. H.Q.)

 

A/175

Battery Position

(for guns)

Gun                             Line                             Map Range.

No. 3                           12o.30’R.                     3100

4                           13o.     R.                     3050

5                           13o .     R.                    3000

6                           12o.30’R.                     2950    1st Phase 1 rd. pre gun per 15 secs

 

2nd & 3rd Phase.           8 rd per 20, secs.

All guns add 200 yards. Distribute 1 deg from No 5 gun.

30’ L. drop 25 every other round.

 

4th Phase.                     1 rd per gun per minute.

 

Officer Commanding

A/175th Brigade R.F.A.

 

The following extract from Second Anzac Intelligence Summary No. 99 dated 7th October, 1916, is forwarded for information and necessary action:-

Anti-militarist effusions have recently been found printed inside the cover of packets of cigarette papers in PARIS.  The cover of the packets was green, with black stripes; on it was printed an allegorical figure of a woman holding a sword and wearing a helmet with a cock as crest, standing near a canon inscribed as LE VENGEUR, and underneath “ON NE PASSE PAS”.  There was also the trademark “LE VENGEUR” and the name Gaston d’ ARGY, PARIS, (a well-known firm).

Inside were some anti-militarist verses. If any of these, or similar device, are found, they should immediately be reported.

(G.H.Q. I.B.1136/461)

Hamilton Fletcher

Lieut & Adjt.

175th F.A. Bde

8th. October 1916.

 

OCTOBER 10, 1916.

Thank you for the excellent box of De Reske cigarettes.

We have been exceptionally busy of late. The junior sub has been posted away, another has been on leave.  Night operations and other silly things have seriously interfered with the ordinary routine.

 

So you have had a Zeppelin at last. How exciting!  I have never seen a Zepp. brought down, although I have seen several aeroplanes crash.  The papers have exceptionally detailed accounts of the affair.

 

It has been a fairly quiet afternoon. I am alone at the battery.  The Captain is wandering round the trenches, not too healthy at the present time.

 

The day has been quite fine, but the Boche has been troublesome recently, also the mosquitoes. We are covered in bumps.  One has a black eye from the same cause.

 

October, 11, 1916.

R.M.L.P.

(Houplines)

At the moment I am alone at the battery. We are two officers short.  The scene is the mess on the first floor of a house adjoining a factory, deserted and decayed.  The Boche are shelling the town behind us, and our Howitzers near-by in retaliation are making the place rock like a ship at sea.  There are constant interruptions by orderlies and demands to speak on the telephone.

 

Suddenly the door is thrown violently open, and the Battery Commander hurls himself into the room, bangs his steel helmet down with a crash on the tiled floor, scatters the message forms that have recently arrived to the four corners of the mess, and smiles a cherubic smile.

 

He has just acquired one of the new gas helmets, called a “box respirator”. He tears the top flap open, and searches for the book of the words, passing rude remarks about the mentality of those who invented such a thing.

“How do you put the beastly thing on?” ”What’s this string for?” ”Have I got to put my nose in that?”

“I suppose it is like all British-made articles, made for all time and not for an age.”

“It won’t go on.”

“It’s B….Y Murder!”

“Tape’s miles too short.”

“Worst of having such a fat head.”

“I’d sooner be gassed.”

“This is no bon.”

“You don’t help a fellow when he’s in trouble.”

“Don’t sit there grinning like a fool. How the devil does the D….d thing work?”

 

In this way the new masks arrived.

 

However he goes away on special leave next week, and will be away for a fortnight, so I hope to run the battery in peace.

 

Last night I went into the town for dinner with the Captain, and had quite an amusing evening.

 

Ordinary leave has been cancelled except for those who have been out here for a year without any. The staff however do not miss their regular routine of leave.

 

October 17, 1916.

R.P.

The Captain is away for a fortnight, and I am in charge during his absence. What with various operations and Generals’ inspections we are very busy.

 

SECRET.                                                                    175, Bde. R.F.A. No. S/119.

 

Officer Commanding,

A/152F. A. Bde.

A/175, do

B/175, do

D/175, do

 

Can the F.O.Os shed any light on the following incident which is alleged to have occurred yesterday 16th about 3, p.m., just north of Railway Salient.

 

A man dressed in civilian clothes made his way up to our front line, got over our front parapet and made for the German lines; he was reported to have been badly hit and remained standing on the enemy front line parapet for some moments. The theory is that he was a spy or a German officer attempting to rejoin his own lines.  The Division ask for a careful enquiry to be made from F.O.Os watching this sector.

Please report by 7.30, p.m. 18-10-16.

 

Hamilton Fletcher

Lieut & Adjt.

Right Group, R.A.

Franks’ Force.

17-10-16

 

OCTOBER 17, 1916.

The battery commander is away for a fortnight, so I am in charge at the gun-line, and am therefore busy. What with operations night and day and General’s inspections there is plenty to do.  We have a battery position, a detached section of guns, an Observation Post, all requiring an officer on the spot, as well as an Infantry Liaison Officer at night.  Between them all and Brigade Headquarters I flit uneasily.

 

OCTOBER 20, 1916.

Preparations for and the carrying out of a raid has occupied all my time. I have spent the last three days in the trenches, and got thoroughly soaked for my trouble.

 

The rot published in the newspapers about Robinson, V. C. with photographs of the hero playing tennis with his landlady, causes us great amusement.

 

Our flat here is at present extremely cold. We cannot have a fire during the day as we are in full view of the Boche lines, and if smoke were seen we should inhabit the place no longer.  One fellow is dancing round the room trying to get warm, to selections from “Shell Out” on the gramophone.  Another wretched creature is up in the O.P.  I try to hold a pen.

 

The rush of the last few days is over, and I am looking forward to a dinner tonight with the O.C. of another battery in a town close behind the lines.

 

Last Sunday we actually had a Church Parade for the battery. I think for the first time since we came out here.  Service was held in an empty white-washed factory shed at 7 p.m.  The place was lit with oil lamps, but not very well, and furniture consisted of chairs, a table with a gaudy cloth, two large vases filled with flowers, two candles, and a large ebony and white crucifix, all looted from houses in the vicinity of our gun-line.  Most ritualistic.  These arrangements were made by the men themselves under the direction of the senior sergeant.  The men, mostly north country men sang very well.

 

The padre who came is a fine fellow attached to the infantry. he lives in the trenches.  He is an Ulsterman, and a real good sort.  Our own chaplain we only see when we are out of the line, and as that is hardly ever, we rarely see him, which is just as well.  This one distinguished himself the other night bringing in some wounded in the face of the Boche machine guns.  but then he is an Ulsterman.

 

I am getting up a concert for the men the night after next. We have discovered a piano of sorts, also a few artistes, also of sorts.

 

RIGHT GROUP FRANKS FORCE ARTILLERY SCHEME.

Proposed Raid on German Trenches opposite to

SPARROWS NEST

on night of

20/21st October 1916.

 

INTENTION. Six minutes after zero hour two parties will enter German Trenches, one at Junction of ditch with front line at I.5.c.65.13., the other at Junction of track with front line at I.5.c.85.27.  Both parties will put a stop on their left at point of entry and work along front line to their right for a distance of about 40 yards.

At zero hour these two parties will be in No-Man’s-Land about 100 yards from the German front line.

 

ARTILLERY TASKS.

(The following batteries of Right Group to take part:-

D/175, Howitzers.

A/152, 18 pdr.

A & B/175, 18 pdr.

Y/34 T.M.B.)

 

PHASE 1.       Preliminary Bombardment.

Time Zero to Zero x 5 min.

A/175. 2 guns.  Bombard front line from I.5.c.85.27. to I.5.c.65.13.

4 guns. bombard support line from I.5.d.15.30. to I.5.d.07.00.

One 6” Howitzer will be firing on Sparrows Nest I.5.d. ½ .1. throughout.

Two Howitzers Left Group on points, trench junctions.

 

Rates of fire.

4.5 Hows 3 rounds pre gun per minute.

18-pdrs     4                 do

Y/34th T.M.B.      GUNFIRE.

 

PHASE 2.  Whilst Infantry are in German Trenches.

TIME Zero x 5 till signal that raiding parties have returned.

 

TASKS…..

A/175.

4 guns on Support Line I.5.d.15.30. to 07.00.

1 gun on C.T. I.5.c.92.35. to I.5.d.12.15.

1 gun on C.T. C.T. I.1.a.8.9. to 97.82.

 

Rates of fire

Zero x 5 to Zero x20

18 pdrs 3 rounds per gun per minute.

T.Ms     1                    do

4.5 Hows 2                  do

 

PHASE 3. 15 minutes after Infantry have returned, indicated by signal.

  • rounds gun fire on targets as in phase 1.

 

Arrangements for synchronising watches and Liaison, and time of Zero Hour will be notified later.

Acknowledge on attached slip.

 

R.W. ARDAGH,

Captain, R.F.A.,

Commanding Right Group, R.A.

Franks’ Force.

 

19th October, 1916.

 

20/21, Oct. 1916.

RIGHT GROUP FRANKS FORCE R.A.

 

In continuation of this office No. OO/23 of today’s date.

 

  1. Zero Hour will be 10.30, p.m. tomorrow the 20th
  2. The 34th Division is making a raid and the 2ndZ. Infantry Brigade a dummy raid at the same hour.
  3. 2nd G. FERNIE, A/152, R.F.A. is detailed as Liaison Officer (in addition to the usual Liaison Officers at Battalion Headquarters). He will report to this office at 8.30, a.m. tomorrow for instructions.

Whilst operations are in progress he will be at the Company Headquarters about I.5.c.2.6., and will be in telephonic communication with this office.

  1. As each raiding party returns to our trenches the O.C. Raid will fire one golden rain rocket from I.5.c.15.65. Batteries will stop firing on seeing the second of these two rockets.
  2. Directly both parties have returned 2nd Lieut Fernie will send the following code message to Group Headquarters

“BLANKETS”

This will be at once repeated to Batteries and they will at once stop firing

unless they have already done so.

  1. 18-pdrs will fire H.E. only.
  2. Cs Batteries and Liaison Officer will forward detailed reports to this office as soon as possible after the raid.

 

R.W. ARDAGH.

Captain R.F.A.

Commanding Right Group

Franks’ Force.

19th October 1916.

 

O.Cs Batteries will send watches to these Headquarters at 5, p.m. to be synchronised. These watches should be reliable timekeepers with second hands and should be collected again at 9, p.m.

 

20/21, OCT. 1916.

OO/23.

A/175

PHASE 1.                                                                Support Line

No. 1 gun 1o L            2900.

No. 2       1o 45’ L.     2900.

No. 3         35’ R         3075.

No. 4         30’ L         2925.

Front Line.

No. 5         3.30’ R      2800.

No. 6         2.15’ R      2825.

 

TIME 10.30, p.m. to 10.35, p.m.

Rate 4rounds per gun per minute   H.E.  =120 rounds.

 

PHASE 2.                Support Line and Communication Trenches.

No. 5       40’ R           2950.  Search 50 yards.

No. 6      4o   R            3000.               do

Rates.

Z x 5 to Z x 20 3rds per gun per min.  =270 rds.

Z x 20 to stop   2rds               do H.E.

PHASE 3.

From Stop plus 15 minutes.

2 rounds gun fire as in Phase 1. = 12 rds.

 

(Estimate over 600 rounds of H.E. required)

 

20/21 Oct 1916.

From O.C. A/174, R.F.A.

To Adjutant, 175th Brigade, R.F.A.

 

With reference to your OO/23 and requirements in ammunition there under, I estimate that we shall require at least 700 rounds of H.E.   We have only 412 rounds on hand and it appears impossible to obtain any further supply.

The last consignment consisted entirely of shrapnel.

 

A.A. LAPORTE PAYNE.

Lieut., R.F.A.

for O.C. 175/A. R.F.A.

October, 19 1916.

 

 

S/125

O.C. A/175. R.F.A. SECRET

Reference Artillery Orders for Raid tomorrow night, all points should be carefully registered, but at the same time care must be taken not to disclose where the raid is about to take place. Each battery should therefore register a few additional points on other parts of the front between the Mushroom Salient and the left of the 102nd Infantry Brigade.

R.W. ARDAGH..

Captain, R.F.A.

Commanding Right Group, R.F.A.

19th October 1916.

 

(see aeroplane map taken 2/8/16.)

 

October 24, 1916.

R.P.

The Captain has not come back yet, so I am still acting as B.C., and fully busy.

I hope to get some leave before Christmas, so do you please mind getting some clothes ready for me, especially my evening clothes.

The weather is still foul. Last night we got up a concert for the men.  They rigged up quite a good concert hall.  A piano was procured from a deserted house, but it was not very tuneful.  The hall also was fitted with a platform and scenery.  The night before we had a church parade.

Later. The Captain has just returned.  He has the influenza, so he is very sorry for himself and is in a bad temper.

 

OCTOBER 24, 1916.

We still exist here in a state of Semi-lunacy.   Leave is very hard to get.  The Captain has just returned, looking like nothing on earth.  He has the flu and is very sorry for himself.  He threatens to go sick and leave again for Blighty.  I should not be surprised.

Our library is growing quite large now. Pope, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc have overflowed on to the oak chest from the mantelpiece.  But Handley Cross still retains its place of honour.

 

ROUTINE ORDERS

BY

Brigadier-General E.W.M. POWELL, D.S.O..

Commanding Franks’ Force.

Headquarters.

25th October 1916.

  1. HONOURS AND AWARDS.

The following awards have been made:-

MILITARY CROSS.                                     Dated 21st October 1916.

Second Lieut. W.W. QUINN, 27th Northumberland Fusiliers.

Chapl. The Rev. E.F. DUNCAN              do

(Two Bombrs of Y/34th T.M. Bty awarded the M.M. 22/10/16.)

 

  1. COURTS-MARTIAL.

No. 8/1384, Pte. J.J. SWEENEY, 1st Bn. Otago Infantry Rgt., was tried by a Field General Court Martial on the following charge:-

“When on Active Service, deserting His Majesty’s Service.”

The sentence of the Court was to suffer death by being shot. The sentence was duly carried out at 5.44, a.m., on 2nd October 1916.

(G.R.O. No 1868, dated 17th October 1916.)

No. 12772, Private A. BOTFIELD, 9th Bn South Staffordshire Rgt. (Pioneers) was tried by Field General Court Martial on 1st October 1916, for “Misbehaving before the enemy in such a manner as to show Cowardice.”  He fell out of the ranks when under the enemy fire and ran away.

He was found guilty of the offence and sentenced to suffer death by being shot.

The sentence was duly carried out at 5.50, a.m., on 18th October 1916.

 

  1. GREASE TRAPS.

All cook-houses in connection with billets must have grease traps provided through which cooking water must pass before entering into the drain.

 

H.B. STUTFIELD. Captain,

Staff Officer “Q” Branch,

Franks’ Force.

 

Alf Smith’s letter 31 Oct 1916

No 27521

St Andrews Hospital

Penrith

Cumberland

 

Oct 31st 16

 

Dear Father

 

Thank you for the paper received this morning.

I thought I would let you know as soon as possible although I cannot say quite positively but my papers have been sent in & I am supposed to leave here on Friday night shall be home Wood Green on Saturday morning.

I promised Mr. Paternoster to go & see them when I came up so you will understand if I go there Saturday evening just for the weekend.

Have just received your letter.

Please excuse short note.

I hope you are all well.

 

With much love from

Your devoted

Son

 

P.S. We had a man leave here last week he was supposed to leave here on Friday but his papers did not come back until Saturday morning so he could not leave until the afternoon.  It is better in a way because your leave does not start until the following Monday; so I may not leave until the same time; but I daresay if there is not time to write I shall be able to send a telegram.

 

Alf Smith’s letter 28 Oct 1916

No 27521

St Andrews Hospital

Penrith

Cumberland

 

Oct 28th 16

 

Dear Albert & Affie,

 

Many thanks for your welcome letter.

I have not very much news to tell you.  I am having a good time.  We went for a nice motor ride on Thursday to Eden Hall to tea; it is a very large mansion standing in miles of grounds.  I am going to the pictures this afternoon.

I am sorry Affie has not been very well, but I hope you are better now.  You ought to be here & come on the top of some of the Cumberland hills, but I have had to rough it, & I don’t know what is waiting for me when I start again so I mean to enjoy myself now.

I think I shall be leaving here next Saturday but I don’t know yet.  I shall spend a few days at Wood Green as I promised Pat I would go & see them, & I should like to have a look round London.

I expect Jay does not use her carriage very much now. How did she like going to town I suppose that was her first visit I hope you enjoyed yourselves.

I notice you have sent me large sheets of paper but afraid I cannot fill them up this time will try & do better next time so must finish; just going to have supper time 7-30 P.M. bed 9 P.M. up 6.30 A.M. how would that suit you?

I hope you are all in the best of health.

Remember me to Ansell & other friends. How is Prim.  I suppose she is still coming to 152?

 

With much love & kisses for Joy

Your devoted

Brother

 

P.S. Shall be pleased to hear from you again soon even if you haven’t very much news

 

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne Oct 25 1916

Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne Oct 25 1916

 

Headed notepaper William Geyton, Sign & Glass Writer, Ballards Lane Church End, Finchley, London N.

 

Oct 25 1916

 

Rev W. La Porte Payne

 

Sir,

 

Allow me on behalf of the Committee of the war savings association & myself of most heartily thanking you for your kind & generous assistance in helping us to form an amalgamated war savings assn with which we shall doubtless do good work. The Committee have not instructed me to write this letter, although they have expressed the sentiments contained here in, but I shall read a copy of this letter at the committee meeting on Friday, and I am certain that they will indorse my action in writing.

 

I am

Your very obedient

William Geyton

 

Christchurch Vicarage

North Finchley.

MEDICAL ARRANGEMENTS 3rd DIVISION 22 Oct 1916

SECRET.

 

MEDICAL ARRANGEMENTS 3rd DIVISION

22nd October, 1916.

Reference Map 57D.

 

 

In the event of active operations on a large scale on the front at present held by the 3rd Division the following medical arrangements will come into force.

 

  1. Collecting Posts will be established by Bearer Subdivisions of Field Ambulances in OBSERVATION WOOD (K.28.b.3.3.) and in FLAG AVENUE (K.34.c.3.8.) and through these points casualties will be evacuated by means of the existing trolley lines to the Advanced Dressing Station near EUSTON DUMP about K.33.a.3.1.       Thence by ambulance cars to Advanced Dressing Station COLINCAMPS (K.25.c.2.7.) and then to 3rd Division Main Dressing Station at FORCEVILLE (P.21.C.8.7.).
  2. Wounded able to walk will be directed from left via OBSERVATION WOOD down CENTRAL AVENUE, and on right from FLAG AVENUE via SACKVILLE STREET and NEWGATE STREET, to EUSTON Advanced Dressing Station.       Thence they will walk by marked track to 3rd Division Collecting Post for Walking Wounded at J.29.c.8.2. on COURCELLES – BERTRANCOURT Road.
  3. As the action progresses Field Ambulance Bearer Divisions will advance and form New Collecting Posts under orders of Officers Commanding Bearer Divisions who will make every endeavour to keep touch with Regimental Medical Establishments and continue to evacuate casualties received by them. R.A.M.C. Officers in medical charge of units will notify nearest O.C. Bearer Division the position of their Regimental Aid Posts from time to time.
  4. Reserves of stretchers, water and dressings have been formed in OBSERVATION WOOD and FLAG AVENUE which may be drawn upon by units when necessary.
  5. All messages for assistance from units during the action will be sent to O.C. Advanced Dressing Station, EUSTON.       These should be in writing and state time when sent and exact location and approximate numbers of casualties awaiting evacuation should be stated.

 

  1. Ensor

Colonel,

A.D.M.S. 3rd Division

Copies to all Brigades and Units.