Splendid news. The dream of my life. I am to a General before I am 60. Got a wire yesterday to go to Abbeville and there I got the news that I am to go home to command one of the new Brigades. God give me strength to do my duty, serve my country , and live and die as a Christian gentleman. It will be a blow to my darling wife, but she has been prepared for it and has seen the sword of Damocles hanging over her head.
Went up to Abbeville yesterday and returned to-day with Ridpath, I had to see Freeland about a lot of railway matters.
Arrived Serqueux about 11 p.m. nothing doing. Abbeville 4.10 a.m. cold, but fine night and blue sky, had some difficulty getting men off, the train daren’t wait long, and they sleep like corpses. Arrived Boulogne 7.30 a.m., snowing hard – I have a heap of officers and men as passengers and 25 trucks of ammunition and supplies. Had to stay all day in Boulogne at the Bassin Loubet, took a long walk out to the very end of the big breakwater, which is right out to sea. I saw the French passenger steamer which the German submarine torpedoed – sunk in harbour, but on sand and quite repairable. Saw the Channel boat leaving and it caused me no extra heart-beats because Daisie is this side of the Channel, and that’s all I care about. These trips are very expensive. I have to pay for any food and guests, meanwhile I pay for my food and lodging at Rouen all the time, for Daisie’s food and lodging at Havre (she certainly is not extravagant) for Leo at school, Galfrid at Ridley House – then interest on debts, premiums on policies – Thank goodness my pay just now is liberal enough to cover it all. The stores accumulated here at Boulogne, are enormous and if the Germans did push us back we should have to destroy them. Our Naval Victory yesterday sinking of the Blucher, was grand. I expect the Germans will try something tremendous to-morrow, because it is the Kaiser’s birthday. it may never snow enough to need them, but I see heaps of steam snow-ploughs and bob-sleighs – foresight.
Left Gare du Nord for Abbeville 11.55 – arrived 5.30 p.m., very cold. Slept in carriage at Station.
Thank goodness we have sunk in the Pacific the Gneisenau, Scharahorst, Leipzig and Nuremberg, who sunk our Monmouth and Good Hope. Beastly rainy day. I had such a time my last trip up the line. Left Havre 5 p.m. Dec. 6th by Passenger to Rouen. Supply Train with Cazalet to Abbeville, arrived pouring rain 1 p.m. 2 hours talk with Freeland. Then on to Boulogne with slow train – reached there 9.30 all shut, no dinner. An hour with Hilliard. Then Supply Train to St. Omer, Tuesday morning an hour’s interview with Gen. [John Henry] Twiss, Director of Railways – then caught slow train to Calais, thence slow train through Boulogne to Abbeville, an hour’s interview with Freeland 7.30 p.m., caught an empty supply train to Rouen, slept with 6 Tommies in a truck and got covered with bacon grease. Wed. morning block on line outside Rouen, pulled kit out, walked down line to gare du Nord, caught a train to Rue Verte and walked thence to gare Rive Droite and caught Paris express to Havre, arriving 11.30 a.m. Got the only decent meal I had had on board this train and it was a great treat, clean and good, coffee and rolls. To-day pouring rain. Daisie leaves on Tuesday and I shall go to Rouen.
On the whole, since that cold spell early in Nov., the weather has been very good. Occasional gales and rain but mostly fine. We are not abolished after all and are going stronger than ever. I am going up to Abbeville to-day to see the Director of Railways [General Twiss] and consult officers. Eyre of the Life Guards has been cashiered for being drunk, and Newcomen has gone home with D.T., a lively lot! The old 20th seem to be doing well in the Persian Gulf with Ducat killed and Mc.Cleverty, St. John, Fordham, Burn-Murdoch and Saxton wounded – I shall be interested to know what it was all about.
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]