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]

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1914 – October 8

Arrived Villeneuve at 4 a.m. A lot of work rearranging trains as everything is now altered. I am taking stuff for the 1st Army only, to Mont Notre Dame and a few trucks to Fère-en-Tardenois and Neuilly gl. Front. The 2nd Army go to Abbeville, 3rd Army Crépy, 1st and 2nd Cav. at Amiens. G.H.Q. R.F.C.Q. Abbeville – all big and portentous moves. Saw 7 engines going North of the Belgian North line, which looks as if we were reopening Belgium but how can that be? Also I hear our Cavalry are in Belgium. I hear the real reason of the German swinging off S.E. from Paris was that they thought the English Army had been wiped out! and then they found that same beastly little army hitting them on the right shoulder, and so began the Débâcle. It was the contemptible little English Army that did the trick from first to last.

1914 – September 6

Daisie will be thinking of me in Church this morning. I have had only one letter from her so far, when shall I get the rest and where are they? It is the sudden change of advanced Base from Amiens to Rouen, Rouen to Le Mans, and now again. In the last truck of the train, sleeping among boxes of bacon and huge cheeses – too cold to keep the doors wide open and the smell of cheese and bacon is appalling. Kind people bring nice things for us to eat and drink at the stations. I always get out and explain that we are not glorious, have killed no Germans and are not likely to and that we only take food up to the soldiers. Arrived at Orléans 10.30 a.m. No English officer here but the French Commission Militaire told me to take the train on to Villeneuve. Left at 11.30 a.m. Very hot and the flies attracted by the cheese are frightful. Arrived Juvisy 5 p.m. It is quite weird to find Paris entirely protected by British troops, no wonder they give us buns and tea and kiss their hands. But for us the Germans would have been in Paris before now. As it is they have shifted off to the East on to Châlons, to fight the main French Army, and on our left is another French Army while we cover Paris itself and all the suburbs are full of our men and trains. Imagine London protected by a French Army! At Juvisy passed a train of 60 sick horses going to the Base. No food for men or horses so I gave the men rations and took hay for the horses from a French train. Arrived Villeneuve 11 p.m. My train had to be remade into 3 portions for Melun, Brunoy, and Lieu-saint.

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