Special Order 20 Division 14 August 1917.

Special Order 20 Division 14 August 1917.

 

SPECIAL ORDER

 

After an enforced absence of some 4 months, I find myself again with the Division which I have already had the honour of commanding for over a year.

 

At the present time I consider myself particularly fortunate to be once more with the troops I know and trust so well.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that the hard work which all ranks have put in during the past 3 weeks – more often than not under heavy fire – will be crowned in a few days with as memorable a success as we achieved at GUILLEMONT last Autumn.  No praise can be too great for what the Artillery, Engineers, Machine-Gun Corps, and Pioneers have accomplished since the Division came to Belgium; and the same applies to the work of the Signal, Supply and Medical Services.

 

The gallant forcing of the STEENBEEK by the 59th Infantry Brigade today, in the teeth of severe opposition, has paved the way for the forthcoming attack by the 60th and 61st Infantry Brigades.

 

The spirit and determination that has been shown by everyone will, I am sure, in a very short time be rewarded, and the fame of the Division still further enhanced, by the capture of LANGEMARCK.

 

I feel I am amongst old friends once more.

 

  1. Douglas Smith Major General,

Commanding 20th Division

14th August 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 12 August 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

12th August 1917

August 12, 1917.

Time does not hang heavily on our hands at present. But noise, rain and mud and the other usual concomitants of war in Belgium get a bit wearisome at times.  Though I must say I have never been so fit and well or eager to enjoy life as I am at present.  Just as the minor discomforts often become disproportionately momentous so with avidity we snatch at the trifling pleasures which this unnatural life sometimes offers us.  From a low view point the unevenness of existence appear unduly exalted.  Perhaps we do not things sub specie aeternitatis as we should.  The only true philosophy for the soldier is the Stoic.  I still carry Marcus Aurelius about with me.  It is curious to recollect that he wrote while on active service and at a time when the Roman Empire was just beginning to fall into decay.  I wonder whether our so-called civilization will go the same way.

 

We have been sending a lot of our men away on leave, those who have had none since they came out, poor fellows! So I am up early every morning to see that they go away properly dressed and that they leave behind their dangerous souvenirs.  Many are the precautions taken to see that the folk at home come to no harm.

 

I have just paid the battery three thousand francs, and now is tea time. After tea I am off to the gun-line.  It is delightful there now.  You cannot see the smoke or hear for the noise.  With luck I shall be back at midnight and without rain.  It will be a still greater relief if there is no traffic block on the road, and if the Boche does not take it into his head to start shelling.

 

The men are having a wretched time. I have not had the heart to damn them for not cleaning the vehicles and harness lately.  But there will come a day of reckoning.  The harness is filthy and red with rust, and there are four sheds of it, quite full.  And we are very short handed.  I am expecting a visit from the General soon, and he is a brute, who expects everything to be kept as if in barracks in peace time.  He has no experience of the conditions except for a fleeting glimpse occasionally, and no imagination sufficient for sympathetic consideration.  How a creature has the audacity to curse the infantry for being dirty or straggling after days in the line, let alone the heart to do it, beats me.  However I do not suppose he will get nearer the lines than the gate to the field, which has at least two foot of mud in the “fairway”.  He will certainly get his boots dirty if he negotiates it, and will make such a mess in his car.

 

I am enjoying myself with the horses.  I have found a broken down cottage, and in it I have stabled my own two horses, one of them the bay mare known in the Brigade as “that hot little devil”.  Room has also been found for the Major’s two horses, one of which won jumping at Aldershot, two belonging to a “wart” (subaltern), one a very good jumper, and another charger also a subaltern’s.  In all seven.  All these I ride in turn, sometimes as many as four a day.  Now they are all fit, and their coats looking fine.  They are better housed than their masters.  It is comical to see them tied up in the kitchen and best parlour, but they look all the better for being under cover and free from mud.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 12 August 1917

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 12 August 1917

 

B.E.F.              August 12th 1917

 

Darling,

 

Time has never flown so fast. It is awful isn’t it?  Life will be over before we can properly enjoy it.  I have the capacity I think for thoroughly enjoying the ‘Good Things’ of life – although you might not think so – camp life, noise, mud, rain and the other concomitants of war are all very well but they get a bit wearisome and boring at times – although I must be fair and say that I have never been so well and more eager to enjoy things than I am at present.

 

Are you still enjoying the excellent society of Mrs Lowe and the air of Bagston Hill? Or have you wandered north in the company of your parents?  No post has come for me for the last three days – they have a spite against me in the Postal Service I think.

 

We have been sending a lot of our men away on leave – those who have had none since they came out – poor fellows – so I am up every morning to see they go away properly dressed with no dangerous souvenirs and other ‘lively’ things – oh! you don’t know the precautions & trouble taken to see that the dear people in England don’t come to any harm. I sent a short note to you by one of the men.  I hope you got it alright.

 

I have just paid the battery 3000 francs, and now it is tea time. After tea I am off up the line – it is delightful there now – you can’t see for smoke or hear for the noise.  I shall be back at midnight – I hope it does not rain – but I know I shall lose my temper.  I always do moving along the road with wagons – everything gets choked up and it is a great relief to let drive at some of these thick headed creatures – poor fellows I am usually sorry afterwards.  I have not had the heart to damn them for not cleaning the harness and vehicles lately – but there will have to be a day of reckoning – the harness is filthy and red with rust – there are four sheds full of it and we are very short handed.  I am expecting a visit from the General soon and he is a brute who expects everything to be like a parade in peace time – however I don’t suppose he will get nearer than our gate which has at least 2 foot of mud and he will certainly get his boots dirty if he comes in.

 

How are you keeping dearest? I hope well – you certainly seem to be having a very good time.  I am enjoying myself with the horses.  I have found a broken down cottage and in it I have my 2 horses (one the famous bay mare known throughout the Brigade as the hottest little devil of all) – the major’s two horses – one of which won the Aldershot jumping – 2 belonging to a sub who came from the R.H.A.  One a very good jumper –  and another belonging to another sub.  All these I ride in turn – as many as four a day sometimes and now they are all fit.  Their coats are looking fine and not a blemish on them.  So you see I have a good time in spite of all.  It is comical to see these horses tied up in the kitchen and best parlour of the cottage, but they look all the better for being under cover and free from the mud.

With all much love dearest and lots of kisses

Ever your

Arch.

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne 11 August 1917

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

EXTRACTED FROM.

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

11th August 1917

August 11, 1917.

Another note by a man going on leave… The fellow is in a hurry.  He has not seen his people since December 1915.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 11 August 1917

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 11 August 1917

B.E.F.
5 a.m. August 11th 1917.

Darlingest,

Just another note by a man going on leave to thank you for your letter of the 5th which has just arrived.

Have your people managed to get away yet or are you still with Mrs Lowe? I am so sorry they are being so delayed by the move – but the weather is not at all pleasant now and it probably will be much better later on.

I cannot think about leave yet. This weather has upset things so. It is an awful nuisance but it can’t be helped so it is no use worrying. You can imagine how much I want leave.

Why should you be dissatisfied with your letters lately, dearest? I am not at all. I ought to be with mine but I am a very selfish brute and as long as I hear from you to know that you are well and still thinking about me I don’t care a hang what happens.

I must close – the fellow is in a hurry – poor chap. He has not seen his people since Dec 1915.

With all my love & kisses
Ever your
Arch.

F.W. Springett letter 10 August 1917

FOR GOD, FOR KING & FOR COUNTRY

Y.M.C.A.

H.M. FORCES ON ACTIVE SERVICE

 

August 10th 1917

 

Ray Farm Camp

56153 Pte F.W. Springett

A Company

17th Training Reserve

Ray Farm Camp

Parkeston

Essex

 

My Dear Brother Sid,

Just a few lines as promised hope they will find you in the best of health as I am in the pink.

You will see by the address that I have shifted into the 17th Battn.  I have not moved very far from the other camp though, only about three miles.

This doesn’t seem a bad Battn all the Sergeants seen so nice, which of course makes things go all the better.  They are nearly all Kings Royal Rifles sergeants this time.  Of course we shan’t stay here very long the old Brigade is on the move shortly.

I arrived back safe about 10.30 it was a jolly good train so we had nothing to grumble about.

Well, Sid I enjoyed myself jolly fine at home, it is jolly hard lines coming back though.

I didn’t like the idea of coming back to it, but I suppose it’s got to be done.

Still I’m alright while I’m here there is plenty of enjoyment at this camp.

I hope you have still got plenty of work, of course we are never out of job.  Ha Ha.

Well Sid I haven’t got much news to tell you, everything is about the same as usual down this way.

Once again I must thank you for the kind treatment you gave me while I was home, and I hope to see you again soon.

Well Goodbye, Best Love

From Your

Affec Brother

Frank W

 

Write soon.

 

With Y.M.C.A. cover to Mr. S.K. Springett, 29 Bath Road, Dartford Kent.

Postmarked HARWICH. Date unreadable.

G Hammond letter 9 August 1917

Sunday

9-8-17

Dear F & M

I was very much disappointed last week when I did not receive any letter from you on my birthday but I suppose you were on your way home and did not have time to write.  Have you received that parcel yet, if so when my watch has been repaired send it on to the battalion and address your letters there now for I shall be back by this time next week.  Will you also send a bottle of aspirin tablets at least 100 for I have had a lot of tooth ache lately.  Has Gladys come back yet she seems to have had a very good time at Kibworth.  Well I have no more news at present don’t forget to write again it’s a fortnight now since I heard from you.

Dearest love

George