War Diary of AA Laporte Payne March 1918
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda
March 5 1919
It is dull here now. We are overhauling equipment and handing it in for storage. All the horses have gone with the exception of a charger for me and the mess cart horse, and a large number of the men.
I went into Amiens the other day, and to day I go to Abbeville on duty.
The Brigade sign is a dolphin, which the Colonel calls the “flying slug”.
Prices of everything seems to be very high. My Captain who has just come back from Paris says that it is expensive there. Amiens, Doullens and Abbeville are bad enough.
March 14th 1919
I have just returned from Paris after an enjoyable visit with Prior. We went out to Saint Cloud.
March 23 1919
I leave A/155 today for another unit, which I have not yet ascertained.
March 27 1919.
March 28 1919.
HOTEL BELGISCHER HOF.
This the first Boche town I have been in is the place where I detrained. We left our village of Soues near Hangest, half way between Abbeville and Amiens, a party of two captains, three (3) subalterns, a large number of men, and myself in a lorry as far as Amiens. It was a bitterly cold day. There we entrained in a long train made up of German cattle trucks, which have been handed over since the Armistice. Seven Officers were in my truck. The beastly thing had great sliding doors, but we managed to scrounge a leaky stove without a top, and there was no trouble in finding plenty of wood and coal. But the smoke was a foul nuisance. Whenever we opened the sliding doors to let the smoke out we were frozen in the draught, if we closed them we were suffocated with the smoke. I was very glad I had my camp bed, so I managed to make myself fairly comfortable. We were in this train two days. I was O.C. train, and I was very lucky that I did not lose any men on the way up.
We travelled through the devastated areas, which was most interesting. I realised more than ever the wretched Hun’s damage to France. For one whole day we saw nothing else than smashed bridges, towns and villages. We passed through Villers Bretonneux, Peronne, Cambrai, Mons, Lutte, Charleroi, Namur, Liège to Cologne, arriving about 8 a.m. We then came to this hotel and had baths, shave and a good meal.
The town is full of troops, and the Boche must be making a great deal out of us. But things are not very expensive as yet. The prices are high, but we get 52 marks to the pound. I am paying seven marks a night for quite a good bedroom, and that is only about three shillings in English money.
There are some god Officers’ Clubs here but otherwise nowhere much to go to. The shops are excellent. We hear about the starving Hun, but they all seem to be fat and well living here. It is curious how many of them speak English. So far I not come across a man who did not understand what I said, even in the small shops, and all the porters and waiters do.
Several of the theatres and concert halls have been taken over by English concert parties, and I went to one last night. The orchestra was composed of English soldiers with a few German cello players. I am sure they think us utterly mad. We do not behave like Boche Officers, and we are treating them much too well. It is an experience I would not have missed for anything.
Captain Prior and I with one or two others go to Duren this afternoon. At present it is snowing hard, which is uncomfortable when travelling.
Programme commencing at 6 p.m.
The Woman’s Theatre Company, under the personal direction of Miss Inez Bensusan.
Songs and Comedy Songs.
Two Sketches entitled, “Mrs. Haslemere’s Hoard” “A Bit of Blighty.”