WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne February 1917
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
February 4, 1917.
The cold still continues. I have never felt it so much. However I have escaped having a cold. We had 30 degrees of frost last night. Well I suppose when the thermometer is down to zero it is a bit cold. The men are feeling it very much and they are having a bad time in the trenches. I was down there yesterday.
The job I have now is very interesting, as I hear all that is going on, and a little more. For instance I can tell you that all leave has been stopped for the Boche on the Western Front. Interesting isn’t it? I wonder why? I wonder also if the censor will pass that. They generally stop all the Boche know already, better than we do.
Boche frightfulness seems to have reached the limit now. What else can they attempt? I am longing for the day when we get to German soil; but we shall not be allowed to retaliate
Downstairs in the cellars two signallers are on duty with four switch boards under their charge. I can be put on to any battery, brigade, battalion or other headquarters, O.P. or company dug-out in our area in the line or behind. So you see we have quite a large telephone system. If the Boche makes a nuisance of himself I can get up information and then switch on any battery proper in retaliation. This is how we wage modern warfare.
R.P. February 7, 1917.
The thermometer was down to zero the other night, that is registering 32 degrees of frost. Everything is frozen hard, even in our bedrooms.
We are extraordinarily busy here. Yesterday I was in the office all day working on plans. This morning I was out round the batteries. This afternoon I am in the office doing the Adjutant’s work, who is out.
This Brigade has now become an Army Field Brigade.
The Boche must be in a bad way to go to the lengths they do. I hope it is a good sign. The idiotic Yankees appear extremely foolish from the way the Boche entirely ignore them as of no account. I hope it will do them good, but I sincerely hope the Americans will not declare war. We must finish this war off without their interference, or the position in the end will be made uncomfortable for us.
London is not very exciting, I suppose. Can you get plenty of food? I see you are asked to economise in rather a drastic way. The unfortunate thing about a voluntary method is that the loyal and conscientious economise, but the others do not. Do not our politicians yet realise that an appeal to the better sort only penalises them. In a war like this it is folly.
It was just the same over enlistment, thanks to such men as Simon.
I paid a visit the other day to our old O.P. which we used when we first came out. It is much altered, and rather badly knocked about, but it still exists as an O.P.
The Boche have not been so noisy lately, but they may break out at any time.
The weather is beautifully fine but very cold. It will be a swamp of mud when it thaws, which I suppose it will do some day.
February 8, 1917.
Life is dependent on the moods of the Boche and the Colonel. We have had no letters for three days, and no newspapers for two days. I can’t think what the matter is. I hope England has not been submarined.
I was down in the front line the whole morning, and it was so cold.
At home you will all get very thin on food rations. One more month and then we shall expect spring and all that spring will bring with it. It will be strange to have no war. We have got so used to it that we shall miss it.
February 14, 1917.
The weather has changed a lot and it is much finer and warmer. We have been very busy here with one thing and another. I dare say you have seen in the papers, and that things are not exactly quiet in this neighbourhood. It all serves to relieve the boredom and make the time go all the quicker. I have got hold of a strange book “A Student In Arms” by Donald Hankey. It is rather serious.
There is a horrid noise going on at the moment. The Boche is up to something, and we are not taking it all lying down. The war will gradually get more exciting now I suppose. The lying jade, Mistress Rumour, is busy.
It is a glorious day to day. I shall have to spend my afternoon visiting batteries, and the trenches.
R.P. February 15 1917.
We have been busy here lately as no doubt you have seen from the papers. The Boche has been making a noise, and we have not let them have it all their own way. The work is interesting as we hear all that is going on round about us.
My servant has gone to hospital with blood poisoning, so I shall not see him for some time if ever.
The spring will mean another push, but I hope it will not prove as costly as the last. The papers seem to be expecting something, and no doubt the Boche knows all about it if anything has been decided upon by the Higher Command. Anyway we are looking forward to it, buoyed up by the hope that it will be successful at last. I must try and get my leave before it comes along.
It is a fine day here today. I was up in the trenches yesterday, and hope to be up there again tomorrow.
I am dining out tonight at another Brigade Headquarters not a great distance away. It is extraordinary the number of men you get to know from all over the world, especially when not always occupied in the line.
Really interesting news I am not allowed to relate, and there is nothing else to write about.
February 18, 1917.
We have become an Army Field Artillery Brigade.
I have just begun to read H.G. Wells “Mr Britling sees it through”. It seems a lot of rot.
I have an early lunch today as I have to make a long expedition. We shall be on the move again shortly, so there are a lot of arrangements to see to. I hate moves.
February 22, 1917.
Last night we had a bad time. I was up to 6.20 a.m. on the telephone. We had a little affair with the Boche, and it is my job to see that the liaison between infantry and artillery does not break down, and I had to keep in touch with an officer who was in the front line at the other end of the telephone.
All today I have been out visiting batteries, O.Ps and telephone stations on a on a tour of inspection, and I did not get back untill 8 p.m. very tired and covered in mud.
We are moving in a day or two.
February 27, 1917.
We are in the midst of handing over. Great confusion. I am acting as adjutant, and trying to look after my other duties as well.
Last night we had a very lively time, and we hope we made the Boche uncomfortable. There may be a reference to it in the papers.
Yesterday I started work in the office at 9 a.m. and finished at 3 a.m. this morning. Now I am not in very good form. I should like to sleep for a month.