Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
15 August 1918 In reserve line – grand day at St Omer (lorry jumping)
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
15 August 1918 In reserve line – grand day at St Omer (lorry jumping)
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
8 August 1918 Direct hit on Coy H.Q. in support line & sentry killed. (Pte
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
1 August 1918 Took over A Coy. Front line *** as ****
Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen
Blankenburg-i-Mack Nr. Berlin
Thursday Aug 1st. Dull cold day but no rain. Tennis started at 8 a.m. I played singles with Hatfield 12.30 to 1.30 p.m. and again from 5.30 to 6.30 p.m. Have started French lessons with Sipiagni. Postcard from DD dated 12 June. Feel ever so much fitter after 2 hours hard exercise & a cold bath afterwards.
Friday Aug 2nd. Sipi ordered to return to Kristrin at 10.30 a.m. He had long interview with Comdt after Roll Call result he had to hurry away to catch his train & we never saw him again. Letter from DD. Betty & Willie. Copenhagen bread for week ending July 20 arrived for whole camp in good condition. Played singles with Hibbert 12.30 – 1.30 & a double 3.30 – 4.30. Golf after tea.
Saturday Aug 3. Dull morning with heavy dew. Worked on golf course from 11 – 1 p.m., 4 of us, cutting grass, raking bunkers etc. I brushed, weeded & rolled all the 6 greens. About 2 p.m. it commenced to rain, we were to have played tennis from 2.30 to 4.30 p.m. Very heavy downpour for over an hour and continued raining all evening. Read papers & wrote Camp letters in the afternoon.
Sunday Aug 4. Hot morning. Wrote letters. Tennis courts too wet to play on. 4 of us worked on Golf Course after lunch, rolling greens, cutting grass etc. New greens also rolled. Had some new potatoes from our garden for supper.
Monday Aug 5. A little rain again last night & no tennis. Worked again on golf course in morning. Went for walk at 2 p.m., past station & then northwards & back by village of Blankenburg, back 4 p.m. Played golf after tea. Comd Collard Belgian Army has given me a very nice gas lamp which a Belgian General used when he was in this room, must see if I can get it fixed up for my table beside the window, it will be very useful in Winter. 4 letters this morning. 1 from DD, 1 from Betty, George & Eva dated about June 10th. Received Red Cross food parcel dated London June 27.
Tuesday Aug 6. Fine hot morning. Played tennis from 9.45 to 11.30. H and I easily beat N & F. Bought some quite good peaches in the Canteen. Old Talboys departed about 2 p.m. for Switzerland & all the Belgians went to Station to see him off. Read French in the afternoon & played golf after tea, rain started again just as we finished about 6 p.m. Farmer had got 2 pairs of tennis shoes from home today & has let me have one pair. White canvas with rope soles. Size 9 – I can just get into them, but they will stretch with use.
Wednesday Aug 7. Cold dull morning. Biscuits from Copenhagen dated July 6th arrived all broken to pieces in a sack. The biscuits are evidently too fragile for travelling, but how the cardboard box gets broken one can’t tell. As they sent me bread for week ending July 20. Hope it will continue & have written again to ask for it – Sat out reading French book from 11 – 1 p.m. After lunch H, F & self worked on golf course, made the holes on the 3 new greens, brushed & rolled them, & after tea played a 3 ball match over new extension which is a great improvement. Someone had filled the hole on no 5 green with snails when we got to it! ‘A Frog’ collecting his dinner perhaps. The best game we have had yet decided on last green. Self 16½ Hatfield 16, Farmer 15½ points. We played a few holes after dinner but light failed about 8.50 p.m. No rain today.
Thursday Aug 8. Fine drizzling rain and a regular Scotch Mist. Letter from DD dated July 4th, not yet heard that I am here.
Spoke to Commandant about B.F. & D coming here but he has heard no more. He says a large batch of English officers are coming here shortly. Biscuits from Copenhagen dated July 27th arrived in good condition, addressed direct here: a larger biscuit than formerly.
Rained most of the morning, so was confined to my room reading but got out for an hour in the park – more rain from 2 to 3.30 p.m. & fine after tea; played usual 3 ball golf match & then tried a stroke competition over the 9 holes. I managed to do it in 29! (5,2,3,3,3,3,3,4,3). Hatfield took 36 (10 at No 3), Farmer 45. have entered with Hatfield for an American “Doubles” tennis tournament, to be commenced on first fine day.
Friday Aug 9th. Dull cold morning with fine rain. Sat on Canteen Verandah reading French for 2 hours in the morning. More work on golf course before tea & a game after tea. Good news in papers this evening. Tanks to the fore again & probably a large number of prisoners & guns. fine evening, read papers.
Saturday Aug 10. Dull morning, but sun came out about 12. read papers in the morning. Played Tennis 2 to 2.40 p.m. American “Doubles” Tournament, got 6 games agst Collard & Daniel’s. 4 against Norton & Soultas. Think former have a very good chance with handicap of 40. played golf after tea. Did first round in 35, second in 29. Hatfield did second round in 31. – Tried Robertson’s lofting iron think I must try & buy it. When I was playing tennis interpreter came & told me I was to move into No 22 Room on top storey. It is a bigger room & has more air & better view, a Russian Colonel is going into my old room. Think I shall be more comfortable up here, as long as rats don’t worry. Red Cross parcel dated June 13th arrived this morning.
Sunday Aug 11th. Woke early feeling quite cold, there is certainly more air in this room. A fine day and tennis tournament in full swing from 9.45 a.m. to 6.40 p.m. We played 5 pairs & gained 6,7, 6.8 & 6 games respectively which makes us 1 in advance of official handicap – but we shan’t have a chance against the 40 handicaps. Wrote letter & postcard to DD in the afternoon.
Monday Aug 12th. Fine hot day. Tennis tournament commenced at 9.30 a.m. At 10.30 a.m. we were informed that no parcels would be given out as new British Officers were just arriving, but at 11 a.m. parcels were given out as they did not arrive as expected. They arrived about 12.50 p.m. just as I was coming back from playing golf. 11 officers 2 on crutches, & most of them wounded or crippled. They were examined in the Library & given some food from the Canteen, which we supplemented as soon as we knew they wouldn’t be out of Library for some time. Major Sopwith, Capt Kincaid Smith, a nephew of my old friend, & Lt. Bowes (7 Gordons) 153 T.M. Battery had tea & dinner with us. They haven’t had many comforts up to date.
Have issued 1 emergency parcel to each officer tonight.
Golf this morning quite successful I lowered my record for 9 holes to 27 & 18 holes to 58 & am putting in 3 cards of 27, 29, & 31.
We played two more couples at tennis this afternoon & gained 6 & 7 games. Have bought an ‘étagère’ from French officer for 15 marks. It will hold books etc. 3 parcels today 2 Red Cross June 4 & 18 & biscuits June 29.
Tuesday Aug 13. Another fine day. Played singles with H directly after Roll Call & beat him 6.3 – 6.4. Saw all new officers in Library at 11 a.m. & told them all I could about this camp, have collected oddments of clothing, cooking pots etc for them. Played golf after lunch & on return found McLean here, thought he was in Holland long ago. He looks thin & changed a good deal. We had a great talk & he had tea & dinner with us & a bottle of wine to celebrate the event. Got 6 – 2 games against Vick & Crighton in tournament. Ought easily to have got 8. 3 parcels today 1 Red Cross June 22, Morels June 19, badly damaged. Biscuits July 13th.
Wednesday Aug 14th. Foggy morning. 1 letter from DD dt 28 June, all well. Two Camp letters. Played more tournament after Roll Call & again at 11.40 & 3 p.m. have finished up with 92 pts. Comdt Collard & Daniels with 115 pts, Kerkovers & S second with 103. I win 65 marks from the “old Firm”. Vick & Aighton. Edgar who was suffering from appendicitis went to Hospital today. The Lodger has joined our mess; H & Co kindly say they would be pleased to have him in No 2 Room. Another parcel from Lorel, addressed direct here arrived badly damaged & very few contents. Wrote letters to P of W Secretary re Van der Zyde. To Home Comforts Fund. Sent Emergency indents to Van der Zyde.
Thursday Aug 15. Fine day. Played tennis 10.30 – 11.30 & 2.30 – 3.30. H & I agst Sultus & Norton but they were too strong for us. Altho’ we got one set 6-1. Must have less tennis for next few days. We are getting stale after too much during the Tournament: & it affects our golf as well, none of us are playing up to form, my round today 68. New officers seem to be settling down all right. There are now 44 British officers here.
Friday Aug 16. Letters from DD addressed direct dated July 25. Also from Charlie, Madeline & Willie.
2 Parcels 1 Red Cross dt July 6. One containing leather for boots addressed here dt July 8th. H & I played Norton & McLean tennis 11.30 – 12.45. A very even game. We won 2 sets 8-6 and 10-8, nearly every game deuce 3 or 4 times. Sat in garden after lunch & played a few holes golf after tea; did round in 33. Whitehouse (S Staffs) and Nelson Smith (Warwicks) dined with us.
Saturday Aug 17. 3 parcels 1 Red X dated July 2. Copenhagen biscuits Aug 3 & a case biscuits from Berne, evidently sent thinking I was at Mainz who are probably based on Berne. Worked on golf course during morning. Played tennis H & I v Sultons & McLean (1 set all) till rain drove us in. Played foursome after tea McL & self v H & F. They beat us 1 up on 19th green. Course much improved, especially greens after our work this morning. A few went to football field this afternoon & some of the wounded officers went with them for small walk.
It has turned much colder tonight & is blowing a bit. Read Papers.
Sunday Aug 18. 2 letters from DD dated 17 & 26 July, addressed direct here – appears she heard of my being here on 17th July.
Quite cold day, heavy rain during night & more after lunch.
Read books & wrote letters.
There was some tennis from 11.30 to 3.30 p.m. but did not play today. Walked with Naza Aga after tea.
Monday Aug 19. Heavy showers & bright sunshine in the intervals throughout the day & a strong wind. Did some work on golf course with Farmer during the morning & played usual 3 ball game after tea. Did the two rounds in 29 & 34. Total 18 holes 63. My second best score. Farmer did 66.
22 new French Officers arrived at tea time & were being examined in Library up to 9.30 p.m. No tennis today.
Tuesday Aug 20. Letter from DD dt 23 July. Fine day & tennis started at 11.30. I played from 3.30 to 5.30.
Worked hard on golf course in the morning, watering, weeding & rolling greens. Still much colder & a light drizzle commenced after dinner.
Wednesday Aug 21. 3 letters 2 from DD, 1 from Betty, d 24 June, 14 & 24 July. Dull morning but sun came out & dried up tennis courts which were fit for play by 2.30 p.m. Played golf in the morning, greens very bad, requiring rolling every day. New Senior French Officer came in to pay his respects with Nazar Aga. A new German officer arrived about midday, some say he is vice Traube, others say he is the new Comdt. He looks young.
Thursday Aug 22. Fine hot day. Letter from Neish & one from Cox & Co about British officers cheques at Mainz – which I have sent back to Mainz. Played tennis from 10.30 to 12.30. Good hard sets, but very hot – sat in garden after lunch, golf after tea. Lippens came in after dinner.
Friday Aug 23rd. Another very hot day, but a fair breeze. A new officer Capt Griffiths R.A.M.C., D.S.O., M.M. with bar, arrived & has given me news of Col Fleming who is all right. played tennis 1.30 – 2.30 very hot. Farmer & I beat McL & H 6-2, & 6-4.
Parcel from Morel d 27 June arrived as usual damaged, but luckily with big tin of ham intact! The ‘old Firm’ payed up this afternoon. News continues to be good but hard to tell from German Papers where the line really is. No doubt a map will be published later on. Griffiths dined with us.
Saturday Aug 24. Very heavy rain & thunderstorm during the night. 3 parcels, 1 Red Cross dated July 29 & addressed direct here. 2 from Morels both badly damaged as usual. Wrote business letters during morning. McLean & I dined with Lippens & de Kerkov, & had excellent dinner. More good news in papers tonight – a new Russian Colonel has arrived. Rained on & off all day.
Sunday Aug 25. Count V Luckow came on parade & made his farewell speech. We are all sorry to lose him & I thanked him on behalf of the British officers for his treatment of us. New Comdt’s name is Suder. He is young, about 28 I should say. Fine day & drying up. New Russian Colonel paid me a visit. Played golf after lunch with Farmer & beat him 4 & 2. Did 31, 33, & 34 for 3 rounds. Wrote letters after tea. Hatfield suffering from toothache. Cunningham came with message from Comdt asking if we wanted photographer from Batin, perhaps to have group taken to give Russian officers who were going away this week. Think really it is Fritz who wants group!
Monday Aug 26. Fine morning & much colder. Clothing parcel consisting of 2 sheets brown paper! Arrived this morning, nothing inside – am making written complaint to Comdt. Played tennis 11.30 – 12.30 p.m. After lunch went with Robbie & McLean to the garden – picked some sweet peas – Rained heavily after tea & got so dark, we had to light lamps for dinner – Lippens came in after dinner & read out news, which continues to be good.
Tuesday Aug 27. Dull morning. Attended to Camp letters, returns etc. At 2 p.m. went to football field & tried to play football, but fear my footer days are over. Some new French officers came with us.
Visited Dentist after tea, he cleaned my teeth, seems alright but Hatfield had ¼ hour with him today to extract one tooth, which broke into 3.
Wednesday Aug 28. Very wet morning, cleared up at 2 p.m. & some of us went for walk with French round Pankow & got back 4.10 p.m. Lippens & Comdt Collard dined.
Thursday Aug 29. A long oration on parade which ended up in a search – Heavy rain during morning – Report that orderlies were all going away which finally turned out to be true.
Saw Comdt with senior French & Belgian officers. Ward left camp about 5.30 p.m. More rain again after tea. More good news in paper tonight. Received Red X parcel No 125. Got parcels issued out to orderlies after interview with Comdt.
Friday Aug 30. Another long oration on appel about reason for orderlies going. They left at 9.45 a.m.
So we had to do our own rooms. Walked most of morning in park. Received 3 letters from DD, 2 from Betty & 1 from B dates from June 30 to July 29. Had meeting of representatives each nationality at 2 p.m. about amalgamation of Funds etc in our Library. Halfway through new orderlies arrived & we went up to Lippen’s room. Orderlies detailed by 6 p.m. I have got a young boy aged 20 named Haycock, the Cambridgeshire Regt late 39 Division. Seems smart & intelligent, was captured in March this year. It has remained fine today, but only a little sun after tea & ground still very sodden. Golf course greens under water mostly.
Saturday Aug 31. Informed on parade that a new Comdt – (Stabs Offizier from the front) will come next week. Had General meeting at 11 a.m. & decided on Monthly Subscriptions. Got an extra large Red Cross parcel dt Aug 8. A record, also biscuits d Aug 17.
Went for a walk 2-4 p.m. usual round by Pankow Station. Some rain during walk. Palmer had gone to Hospital with dysentery which he has had before in Ceylon. New orderlies seem to be settling down. Haycock & Bentley work well together. No papers tonight.
War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Aug 1918
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
Saturday, August 24, 1918
We are having glorious weather. And I am having a gay week. I expect it will be my last. My board is on Monday and I expect G.S. and France this time.
This week’s frivolities have included two motor trips, a dinner at the Bath, two lunches at the Exeter, two day’s sailing, one evening at the Winter Gardens to hear Moisiewitch, a dinner with the M’s, and an afternoon beach party.
I got into trouble with the matron. I did not get back from the Winter Gardens until 11 p.m. as we could not get a taxi. And last night the boat got stuck on the mud, and having to wait for the tide, we were half an hour late for dinner. Gilbert and Sullivan is on next week.
R.P. The Mount, Parkstone.
August 27, 1918
I have had a medical board, and the creatures have given me another month here. Then I get three weeks leave and after that G.S.
Lectures here are a horrid nuisance. I shall be glad to get away. It is about time I did something now.
The news is excellent is it not? I should like to be there now they are moving at last. It must be most exciting. Several of our fellows in the Brigade have been wounded. Among them Major Huggins.
Writing on Aug 24th 1918 “My board is on Monday”
August 27, 1918
My board has come and gone, and they have condemned me to another month here. Then I get leave and G.S. I shall not be sorry when this is over. Everyone seems to be leaving now, and only Newnham is left of the old crowd that went so strong in former days. recovering from gas in hospital.
In the Field
August 31st 1918
From Commanding Officer
58th Canadian Battalion
9th Canadian Artillery Brigade
I would appreciate it very much if you would accept the thanks of the 58th Canadian Battalion for the assistance rendered us by your Artillery on August 28th 1918.
In this connection I would especially like to draw your notice to the good work done by your forward Observer Lieut R. ADAMS. Under the most trying circumstances and at great personal risk, he maintained communication and was at all times ready to help the Infantry.
I have the honour to be
Your Obedient servant
(sgd) P.L. SMYTHE,
Acting C.O. 58th Canadian Battalion
Dear Mrs. Springett,
At last a few more lines which I hope will find you all keeping well. I was very pleased to receive the nice letter which Alice wrote. I wonder if she has heard of another place yet. I kept my eyes open down here but nothing doing. The shop assistant places are so quickly caught after by the Local girls.
I am glad Edie likes her present home it is very nice her being so near you all isn’t it?
Pleased to say I am still getting on fine here. It is simply lovely by the sea now we have some jolly times bathing etc. We are packed out every room here in Hotel with holiday people & the town is full of visitors likewise Broadstairs & Margate. One would hardly think there is a war on. It seems as if people meant to have a good time this year in spite of everything. I suppose they have waited long enough for the war to end with no result.
I wonder if you have heard from poor old Frank yet. I had such a turn the other week when I saw his photograph & the nice account of him in the Ashford paper. It brought poor ole Walter all back again & Frank looked so like him. Fancy it is nearly two years since Walter was taken. How time flies. His memory is as green to me as ever. He was one of the best in every way to me & I shall never forget him. This is a wicked war & fancy it has been going on now for over 4 years. When is the end really coming.
My two soldier brothers are getting on alright Tom went home this holiday for 4 days also my sister & her hubby were home for over a week. I am so glad because it must have cheered dear old mum & dad up a bit to have them. I wish I could have ran home while they were there but nothing doing as we were so busy.
I have got a weeks holiday to come as soon as the rush is over. So then I must go round visiting it seems sometime I am down here right away from everybody but we have to drift away don’t we to earn a ”crust”.
I hope Mr. S & Ted & Sid are well. You see them otherwhile I suppose. How you must look forward to see them for a few hours.
What lovely weather we have been having but there is a change today. Here it has been raining fast. You will soon be looking forward to ‘hoppicking’ won’t you but I hear the hops look awful this year worse luck.
Now dear Mrs S I must ring off cheerio & look for the best.
With lots of love to you all
I suppose Winnie has grown a fine girl now. Shall be very pleased to hear from you again anytime.
Cover to Mrs. Springett, “Tabors Cottages”, Horsmonden, Kent.
Postmarked Ramsgate but rest unreadable.
To Mr. Smith, 100 Arcadian Gardens Bowes Park N22
From The Anchor, 1 Bankside Southwark SE 1
The Parcel went away alright, and I did not forget the Coupon, trusting it will get there quite safe. With love to all Your Affec Niece Ciss.
Name Smith Christian name Alfred
Rank Private Camp No. E.K. 6
Regiment 53rd M.G.C. Regtl No 27521
Camp of Friedrichsfeld near Wesel.
Postmarked FRIEDRICHSFELD bei WESEL. 17.9.18 and London Oct 16. 18.
Mr. T. Smith, 100 Arcadian Gardens, Wood Green. London North England.
Sept 2nd 18 Friedrichsfeld My Dear Father,
I am delighted to tell you that I have just received Jessies welcome letter. It was a great pleasure to know you are all well & that you got my letter before you went away I hope you all had a good time & benefited by the change. I had already written a card to you but your letter arrived just in time I will answer it next time as I have written to Albert in answer to one received from him I have had three letters now but you can see they take a long time to get through. Love to all Alf.
Aug 26th 1918
To No 205166 Rifleman F.W. Springett
16th Batt King’s Royal Rifles
*** Kriegsgefangenen- Stammlagers
Limberg A.A. Lahn
My Dear Son Frank,
We have received two cards from you & we were all so pleased to know you was well, I am happy to say we are all very well at present. I have been trying to get your address so that I can send you something useful to you & when you write please tell me of anything I can send you. You are ever in our minds & will be to the end, I am still at the same place. Alice has left the shop & is doing well. Edith is still at the King’s Arms & my word you will not know your big sisters when you come home. What a day it will be, Little Win & Jim are growing & Jim is fair little member. Ted & Sid are still alright, Mother joins with me & your Sisters & Brothers in sending our fondest love to you trusting that we shall hear from you soon I remain
Your Ever Loving Father
My dear dad,
I hope you have had a most successful week up north. If you have been having the same sort of weather we have had here it must have been delightful on the moors. Many a time have I wished I could be with you. Still it looks very much as though I shall be there next year if things go on as they are at present. The old Boche has got to take a lot in the ribs yet. The coup de grace has yet to come, though we seem to be able to do pretty much what we like with him at present.
I have absolutely no news to tell you from here. Things are going smoothly, but are dull on the whole.
The air is alive with rumours, the latest being that leave is extended to 20 days. There is nothing official about it, but things like that get round pretty quickly & there may be something in it. it would be futile to say I hope it is so. I had an amusing letter from Mr. Sayers the other day.
Did you have the saloon to bring you back? I wonder you haven’t borrowed it before. I bet Mr. Preston thought it was A1, & of course it is the only way to do it really. It saves all the bother of sweating after baggage – your job I gather as a rule.
Well old man I am sorry I have nothing to tell you.
Hope you are fit & well.
With very best love
Your loving son