1914 – October 24

They promised to get me away at 2.30 a.m. Woke at 3.30 and found nothing doing. Worried around and at last got away at 6 a.m. Reached Havre 10.30 Rushed to Strasbourg Hotel to embrace Daisie and found only a wire to they would arrive to-day in Paris – so hope deferred. Meantime I am not to go up the line any more, I am to be O.C.* these train interpreters and stay at Havre. There are about 50 of them.


*Officer Commanding

1914 – October 23

Reached Abbeville at 7 a.m. Nearly 12 hours from Boulogne, about 75 kilometres – a 2 hours journey taking 12; The news from the front continues good.

So many bridges broken we have to go all round the country via Amiens, Montdidier and Beauvais, an awful long journey and very slow train. Arrived Sotteville, outside Rouen at 9 p.m. Such a fuss about sending me on and such a stupid R.T.O.* in the Staffords. Up most of the night arranging about shunting and getting the trains away.


*Rail Transport Officer? [guess]

1914 – October 21

Arrived Calais at day-break alongside a train of French wounded. Cold and wet and foggy, poor weather for the soldiers. but I expect it is worse for the Germans than for us. Saint Omer 9 a.m. The names up here “Ebblinghem” for instance, suggest that this country is really Teuton. As far as this the country has been flat and wet like land reclaimed from the sea. The real continent begins here. Saw the first Indians, only some measly looking followers. Towards Hazebrouck the country gets much more like lieber Deutschland. and Daisie and I could be quite happy here – Reached railhead Merville, at 12.30. Took a long time issuing. Took over 30 Germans prisoners of the 133rd Regt, had one passenger to take down. Lt. Butler R.F.A., who knew my camp with garden in Sonamarg. Not much artillery firing in this neighbourhood which means, I hope, that our fellows are pushing along and getting the Germans further back. Left Merville 8 p.m., arrived St. Omer at midnight and handed over my German prisoners. A most amusing incident: My crown and 2 stars in the faint gaslight look like 3 stars. A Major, Railway Transport officer, excellent fellow, disagreed with me about the escort necessary for the prisoners and I stuck to my opinion, whereupon he fiercely brushed his moustache and said “Look here, now, I’m a Major and you’re a Captain….” I might have let him go on, but it would have been hard luck, so I said “Oh, but I am a Colonel!” Frightfully apologetic – no need, I said, whatever my rank was if I was wrong I ought to be put right.


For those unfamiliar with insignia in the British Army, click on the image below, where you can see how similar the Captain and Colonel epaulettes are!


1914 – October 20

I was well rewarded at the Post Office last night getting 3 long letters and a parcel from Daisie. I am quite delighted to think we may soon be meeting, but I won’t tell her so because I think it quite wrong to have women distracting one in the area of operations. It is very beautiful on this line to Abbeville – Woods, orchards, and pasture, fine cattle and not much plough. Autumn tints. Nasty cold, wet, grey, miserable day, but cheered by the thought of seeing my Daisie soon. Frightful toothache. Reached Boulogne at 5.30 p.m. Looks a prettier place than Havre in the dark. An awful block of trains here. Everything seems to be going well and it really looks as if we might begin to push the Germans now we are all on new ground and as our left and their right is on the sea we have come to an end of that enormous extension of flank which began at Soissons and has reached into Belgium.

1914 – October 19

Nasty rainy day again. I am smoking a cigarette out of a packet labelled “With the best Wishes of the “Daily Sketch” readers”. I have a man on the train, Mr. Charles Cortin of the Gifts Department, who hands these things out. It really is rather kind of people and also though the cigarettes are not nice it cheers one up. Individual kindness one knows, but this sort of kindness en bloc is something a little different and strikes a deeper chord. Left Havre 2.45 p.m. as a Passenger. Lt. Mitchell of the 3rd Hussars, a drunken little waster in charge. Arrived Rouen 8 p.m. left at 3 a.m.