WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 17 May 1917

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 17 May 1917

 

Extracted from

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

R.P. May 17, 1917.

The weather has been lovely, and we thoroughly enjoyed our week out of the line, but there was more than enough to do, horses to look after, equipment to renovate and overhaul, and men to smarten up in preparation for our work in the line. And now we are back once again in the line with the prospect of a great deal more to do.  But unfortunately the weather has broken badly.  It has rained for two days, and mud is a plague once more.  I do hope it is not going to be a repetition of the Somme all over again.  We are living in tents with the horses in the open.

 

I am on another court of enquiry tomorrow, which is a great nuisance as it hinders me in my proper work.

 

Lately our orders have been supplemented, cancelled, and altered until we do not know where we are. The weather for the time of year is abominable.  Yesterday was very cold.  We miss our comfortable chateau.

 

One of my horses died last night of colic, which annoyed me. It was a good horse, and we can ill afford to loose such now.  The noise of the guns is continuous here now, and has a meaning.

 

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 16 May 1917

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 16 May 1917

 

Extracted from

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

ON MAY 16th 1917 the Second Army consisted of the following CORPS:

VIII, Corps.

  1. ANZAC. General Godley.

General Powell (R.A.)

 

May 15, 1917.

The weather has changed, and it is now dull and cold and threatening to rain. It turned for the worse quite suddenly, but we have had some glorious weather, so we must not grumble.

 

They have hauled us back into the line again, as I expected. We marched up here and arrived late last night.  It is always a great business moving.  It is very necessary to see that all the place left is left clean and in good order, or else we shall get a chit telling us all about it.  There are a thousand and one things to see are not left behind.  If there are someone is sure to appropriate them.  My little unit consists of about sixty men, fifty horses, and ten vehicles.

 

On arrival at a camping place the first thing to do is to find out where the bivouacing place is and then how to get the column in. Then the horse lines have to be put up, with posts dug in and roped, the horses watered and fed and groomed.  Places have to be found for the Harness, cooks, telephonists, forage, food, stores and sleeping places for the men.  After that I can get something to eat and flop into my flea-bag.  This has been the routine for the last few days.

 

I am sorry to say one of my horses died last night, in great pain, a good horse too. They are very hard to get now.  It was one of the signaller’s horses, and got colic very badly.  I hate having horses ill.

 

I am writing letters on a bully-beef box, and it is starting to rain. We have no furniture, and live in tents.  The cooking is done in holes in the ground.  It is a contrast to our chateau.  I have found a shed of sorts for my own gees.

 

We have plenty of work to do here. It is very similar to last year on the Somme.  Conditions are the same.  I hope it will keep fine for a few weeks.

 

From May 16th 1917, the 175th Brigade R.F.A. was attached to the II ANZAC CORPS, and the 3rd Australian Division.

 

The Divisions were then as follows;

 

57th Division, transferred to the First Army, and was not included in the operations.

25th Division.

3rd Australian Division.

4th Australian Division.

New Zealand Division.

36th Division (Ulster)

16th Division.

 

THE 175th ARMY FIELD ARTILLERY BRIGADE R.F.A.

 

MAY, 1917.

 

Headquarters   Lieut Col. W. Furnival.

Lieut. A.G. Modlock. Adjutant.

Lieut A.A. Laporte Payne. Orderly and Signals Officer.

Lieut. F.H. Webb. Assistant Orderly Officer.

Captain W.J. McKeand, R.A.M.C.

Captain   Mitten. A.V.C.

 

  1. Battery. Major J.W. Muse.

Capt. R.M. Stevens.

Lieut. D. Lowden. (sick in England.)

Lieut. H.E. Pitt.

2/Lieut. J.S. Carroll (Assistant Staff Captain II Anzac Corps)

2/Lieut. A. Twyford.

2/Lieut. T.S. Davis.

2/Lieut. J.G. Cooney.

 

  1. Battery. Major L.W. laT. Cockcraft, D.S.O.

Capt. G.F.T. Hopkins.

2/Lieut. A.B. Macdonald.

2/Lieut. J. Amour. M.C.

2/Lieut. L.F. Holt.

2/Lieut. F.L. Talley.

2/Lieut. W.A. Macfarlane.

2/Lieut. A.E. Dawes.

 

  1. Battery. Major H.A. Terry.

Capt. F. Steele Pilcher.

Lieut H.A.R. Gibb.

Lieut. T. Robley.

Lieut. H. Leigh.

2/Lieut. J.L. Allan.

2/Lieut. S. Glover.

2/Lieut. H. Griffiths.

 

  1. Battery. Capt. R.W. Ardagh, M.C.

Lieut. F.H. Webb.

2/Lieut. A. Roberts.

2/Lieut. E.J. Webber.

2/Lieut. B. Baker.

2/Lieut. W. Morrison.

 

BRIGADE AMMUNITION COLUMN.

Capt. V.G. Gilbey.

Lieut. E.L. Warren.

2/Lieut. C.A. Thomson.

2/Lieut. E.W. Hutton.

 

 

Strength:

Officers 40.

Other Ranks 1009.

Horses 928.

 

On MAY 16th 1917.

 

Orders were received from the 3rd Australian Divisional Artillery that

 

“I” GROUP”

 

Should be constituted as follows:

Commanding Officer. O.C. 175th Brigade R.F.A. with Headquarters at T.16.b.99.31.

 

Batteries.

I.1        A/175, at T.18.a.00.45.

I.2.       B/175,     T.17.b.14.20.

I.3.       C/175.     T.17.d22.99.

I.4.       45th         T.17.d.36.73.)        Batteries of the

I.5.       46th         T.17.d.52.46)          12th Australian

I.6.       47th         T.17.d.5.2.)             Brigade, 4th Division.

 

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 15 May 1917

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 15 May 1917

 

Extracted from

 

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

Correspondence

—————–

 

On May 15, 1917.

Headquarters of the 175th Army Field Artillery Brigade R.F.A. under orders from the II ANZAC CORPS moved from billets at LA COURONNE, VIEUX BERQUIN, via DOULIEU and STEENWERCK to a bivouac on the BAILLEUL – NIEPPE ROAD, where officers were in huts and the men in tents, horses in the open. Battery wagon lines moved from the neighbourhood of DOULIEU to the same place.  The Brigade Ammunition Column remained in original wagon lines already on the spot.  Major Cockcraft, D.S.O. was temporarily in command of the Brigade.  Billets vacated were occupied by the 4th Australian Division, which had arrived from the south of ARRAS.  The guns of the Brigade were still in the line attached to the Right Group of the 57th Division (Territorial) at FLEURBAIX.

 

The immediate front was then held as follows:-

FLEURBAIX – ARMENTIERES – HOUPLINES. 57th Division.

PLOEGSTEERT.                                                       3rd Australian Division

NEUVE EGLISE                                                      36th Ulster Division.

Behind were the following divisions:-

4th Australian Division.

New Zealand Division.

 

(The weather was dull and colder, but it did not rain.)

 

ON MAY 16th 1917 the Second Army consisted of the following CORPS:

VIII, Corps.

  1. ANZAC. General Godley.

General Powell (R.A.)

 

May 15, 1917.

The weather has changed, and it is now dull and cold and threatening to rain. It turned for the worse quite suddenly, but we have had some glorious weather, so we must not grumble.

 

They have hauled us back into the line again, as I expected. We marched up here and arrived late last night.  It is always a great business moving.  It is very necessary to see that all the place left is left clean and in good order, or else we shall get a chit telling us all about it.  There are a thousand and one things to see are not left behind.  If there are someone is sure to appropriate them.  My little unit consists of about sixty men, fifty horses, and ten vehicles.

 

On arrival at a camping place the first thing to do is to find out where the bivouacing place is and then how to get the column in. Then the horse lines have to be put up, with posts dug in and roped, the horses watered and fed and groomed.  Places have to be found for the Harness, cooks, telephonists, forage, food, stores and sleeping places for the men.  After that I can get something to eat and flop into my flea-bag.  This has been the routine for the last few days.

 

I am sorry to say one of my horses died last night, in great pain, a good horse too. They are very hard to get now.  It was one of the signaller’s horses, and got colic very badly.  I hate having horses ill.

 

I am writing letters on a bully-beef box, and it is starting to rain. We have no furniture, and live in tents.  The cooking is done in holes in the ground.  It is a contrast to our chateau.  I have found a shed of sorts for my own gees.

 

We have plenty of work to do here. It is very similar to last year on the Somme.  Conditions are the same.  I hope it will keep fine for a few weeks.

 

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 15 May 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 15 May 1917.

 

Belgium.

 

May 15th 1917

 

Lady mine,

 

My sins of omission are many and days have gone by and you have had no letter from me. You will forgive me won’t you dearest?

 

First of all thank you so much for your long letter of May 9th which has just arrived, and also for the two parcels which I have not yet opened as we have been moving in – but as I believe they contain something for tea I shall open them as soon as I have finished writing this letter.  Thank you too for the post-card.  It was not at all dull to get word from you & news of what you were doing.  When are you off to work on the land?  I hope the weather will be better than this.  It has changed quite suddenly.  To-day is dull and cold and threatening to rain; but before that we did have some lovely weather.

 

Well they have hauled us back to the line again after a very brief time in the training area. I enjoyed very much our time down there although it was so very busy.  We marched up here and arrived late last night.  It is an awful job moving.  Leaving a place you have to see that it is clean and that nothing of the thousand and one things you ought to have are left behind by the empty headed men.  Then there is all the watering & feeding of horses on the march and the rationing of the men.  My little unit consisted of more than 60 men and half a hundred horses, and 10 vehicles – and I was all alone.  On arrival the first thing is to find out where the bivouacing place is and then how to get your column in.  Then the horse lines have to be put up – posts found and dug in and ropes put up – then the horses watered and fed and groomed.  Places for the harness, cooks, telephonists, forage, food, stores, etc all have to be found.  You see there is plenty to do.  After all is finished you have time to get something to eat and then flop into bed.  This has been the routine for the last few days.

 

Alas I am sorry to say one of my horses died last night – a good horse too – and they are so hard to get now. It was one of the signaller’s horses and got colic very badly.  Poor old thing.  I hate having horses bad.

 

I am writing this on a bully-beef box, and it is starting to rain so you must please forgive writing and blots. We have no furniture at present and we are living in tents.  The cooking is done in holes in the ground.  It is delightful – especially after our chateau and comfortable billets.  My own gees are looking well.  I have found them a shed of sorts.

 

Don’t alter the address from France to Belgium.  It is all the same.  Letters come out in just the same way.

 

We have got our work cut out here. Conditions are very similar to this time last year.  I do hope it will be fine for the next few weeks.

 

How are you keeping, darling? Quite well?  I am very glad you are quite contented and happy now.  That is all I want.

 

Are you looking forward to my next leave? I am.  I am living for it.  The memory of your kisses and sitting on your lap is a very delightful one – only it makes the time of waiting worse.  How do you like being engaged.

 

Your girl friend seems to like being married – but I don’t think I should like to be married to someone 20 years older than I am – would you? Both ought to be young together, don’t you think so?  I am sure you can’t be foolish at 50.

 

You seem to be a very busy person now. Don’t overdo it.  I should love to hear you read minutes.  I used to for the Cambridge Philosophical Society to a lot of *** professors and dons – and I used to be frightfully nervous.  I was so tied up once or twice in making minutes of some **** paper that I used to go and beg a précis from the man reading the paper and left out the discussion altogether.

 

Is Mrs Cross back yet? Then give her my love.  I really must find time to write to her soon.  I hope Mr Cross is better.  Give him my kindest regards.  Finchley is the same I suppose.

 

Mind you have your photo taken in your working garb. I must see what you look like.  What ages it seems since I saw you.  I remember you were delightful that evening  we had together in town when we had dinner at the Savoy and afterwards went to High Jinks.  I shall never forget that week.  I hope you have as happy a memory as I have.  How is the singing getting on?  Next time I have got to cut out all the foolish things we did and sit properly and listen to you sing and play the violin.  I wish I could be with you now to kiss you and hold you tight.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to make country excursions alone together now, and go on the river. I like punting on an easy stream – it is so comfortable to be in a punt.

 

I won’t be so serious next leave. I will be absolutely mad and silly.  I wonder how you will like that.  I must close now I think as I have got to go to ‘stables’, and then out to see about things in the line.

 

Please forgive this disjointed letter – the beastly telephone as usual has interrupted letter writing.

 

For the present goodbye, darling

All my love & kisses

Archie.

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 15 May 1917

Dick-Cunyngham letter to wife dated 15 May 1917

Monday

 

My own darling one,

 

I fear I didn’t get back from the Railway Cutting last night in time to catch the mail. We went up to old Hd Qrs to take over the battle front, and after going forward to see Burr we got back for lunch and came back here at 5 p.m.  It is quite nice to be in a hutment and camp & I slept in a tent last night.  Fear it wasn’t much sleep as I didn’t go to bed till 11.30.  Was fussing about some shelling on the front about 2.30 – and got up at 4 a.m.  Walked round our new line with C.R.E. & Intelligence Officer.  Since we have been in we have advanced our line in 2 places without opposition & consolidated.  I had a wonderful view this morning of Bosche Land crawling round newly made trenches, and really enjoyed it got back about 9.30 a.m. ready for breakfast & a bath.  It was very hot going round and luckily my thin ‘breecks’ & shirts arrived last night also the cigars.  My darling one they look excellent & shall enjoy one after dinner tonight.  The socks & other band came this morning – so I have been lucky in letters and parcels.  How sad about the Colofinos – Darvel Bays or perhaps I will go back again to the old Cresus from Robertson – the Colonnade Cheltenham at 30/- a 100 – they were always good & I don’t know why I gave them up.

Uncle Harry has written a most hilarious letter – I think they are all glad the old Buffer passed away – a most merciful really. Darling one the two bands you have sent are going on to my great coats – the smaller letters will look much better, but I think when we have got them to the General’s liking – you had better have them done at some needlework shop & the order for some 2 dozen will be given.

Curious things these stylo pens are – Waterman now won’t write well & so this one has come up to the scratch and is now very nice.

I believe really I should also keep within my bread ration. 2 slices toast for breaky – 2 for lunch and 3 for dinner.  How’s that?  Within or over?  This does not include biscuits or any cake I may have.

I think Thresher & Fleurt had better make me 2 more thin cotton khaki shirts & ½ dozen collars to match. I will send home my flannel ones & hope I may never see them again and not have to send for them this winter.

We are having heavy thunder showers which are nice and cooling, but my office hut leeks, must consult Whigham & have it put right at once.

My darling one I sincerely hope you didn’t face Aunt Monty. How could you manage it.

Darling one I must stop and attend to business, I swore I wouldn’t do any writing until I had written today. God bless you my darling & keep you safe and well.

Ever your own devoted Hubby

Jimmie

 

With envelope addressed to Mrs J. Dick Cunyngham, 28 Coleherne Court, South Kensington. London S.W. 5.  Endorsed On Active Service.  Signed Dick Cunyngham.  Passed by Censor No 2014 cachet.  Postmarked FIELD POST OFFICE H.15 dated 15 MY 17

Special Report upon silent raid carried out on Ned Trench on the 13/14 May, 1917

COPY.

SPECIAL REPORT upon silent raid carried out on NED TRENCH on the 13/14 May, 1917

—————————————————-

At 10-30 p.m. the COVERING PARTY left our trenches at N.5.c.05.05. and 10 minutes later the ASSAULT and BLOCKING PARTIES followed.

 

After the parties had got clear of our wire, O.C. Raid detailed two men to enlarge the gap in our wire to facilitate the return of the parties.

 

At 10-40 p.m. 2 Very Lights were sent up by the enemy from N.11.a.1.4. and N.11.a.9.9. approximately.

 

The Covering Party took up its allotted position at and about N.11.a.15.67.

 

The Assaulting and Blocking Parties passed through the Covering Party, and through the gap in the enemy’s wire, the last man laying a white tape through the gap to aid the withdrawal. The parties entered the enemy blind trench at N.11.a.17.58., worked in an Easterly direction, and reached the E.F.L. at N.11.a.32.55.  At this point the Assault Party got into the enemy trench, and the Blocking Party took up its position behind the enemy parapet.

 

To guard against the possibility of meeting an enemy trench patrol, the bay of entry (provided with an island traverse) had been noted as a favourable place for attack, and provisional dispositions had been made previously in the event of such a contingency arising.

 

The Assault Party had not moved out of the bay of entry, when a trench patrol was heard approaching from the East and the Party was immediately reorganised in accordance with the prearranged plans and took up their respective positions to await the patrol. (See attached plan).

 

The trench patrol consisted of 3 men. Nos 1 & 2 were allowed to pass point “Z” and Sergt WRIGLEY of “A” Party pounced upon No. 3.  No. 1 did not give Sergt J. SLATER of “B” Party an opportunity of scuppering him, but bolted across country in the direction of the enemy Support Line.  No. 2 turned about and fired his revolver at point blank range at Sergt. WRIGLEY.  Sergt. WRIGLEY was not hit, and in the anxiety to get away with the prisoner, No. 2 was lost sight of.

 

The Assault Party and prisoner immediately withdrew from the enemy trench and returned to our lines, followed by the Blocking Party, the Covering Party bringing up the rear as arranged.

 

The whole of the Raiding Party regained our trenches at 1-0 a.m. without suffering any casualties.

 

During the whole of the operations the 170th Machine Gun Company co-operated with indirect fire of short bursts at intervals at points behind the enemy front and support lines, and their fire was carried out most effectively and without any possibility of raising the enemy’s suspicions.

 

The Raiding Party had withdrawn about half way across NO MAN’S LAND before the enemy sent up a Very Light, and then only from N.11.a.9.9. (approx) and the enemy did not open fire either with rifle or Machine Guns.

 

The following conclusions have been drawn:-

  1. The enemy front line is very thinly held at night.
  2. There was no sentry group at N.11.a.45.63. where one had been located previously by reconnaissance.
  3. The regular movement of the enemy trench patrol suggests that the enemy travel trench is in good condition and well duckboarded.
  4. With reference to the absence of M.G. fire, it is possible that the alarm had not been raised in the enemy lines, for on the morning of the 13/5/17 on the approach of one of our aeroplanes, M.G. fire at it had been so heavy as to call for special comment.(Sgd.) C. Oswald Dean.I Officer.14/5/17.
  5. “D” Battalion.
  6. Lieut.