Floods and deluges of rain – servants’ houses all flooded out and one washed right down. I am so pleased at having my proper pay of Rs.2100 a month that life seems quite different. My arrears are also Rs.1200 which enables me to pay all my debts at the shops. What a huge war this is. Bay writes from Belgium, others from France, Watts from Mesopotamia and Egypt, Irwin from East Africa, Cunliffe in West Africa, Bob and Wattie are in Salonica and here are we on the Afghan frontier. Bennett writes from Persia.
*Rs = Rupees
Off Algiers – fine and hot but cold breeze – ideal weather. Think of them shivering in England, France and Belgium. Everyone plays the same old ship games which bore me. I hope we are beyond reach of the sub-marines now, but there was one on the lookout for us before Gibraltar. Tied on our lifebelts, Susanna’s is an enormous one, it would certainly drown her.
Presented Mlle. Germaine with a watch which delighted her. It is hard to be a school-mistress without a watch. Daisie writes they have fresh wounded in the hospital. War news good to-day, an advance by La Bassée and 1000 prisoners, and 1 Submarine sunk, at sea. I am rather worried at getting no news from the War Office. A long walk with Mlle Germaine, through the Forêt Verte to Houpville and back through Maromme by tram, about 15 kilometres.
The Germans have bombarded Scarborough and Whitby and at last some of the English people will be able to begin to think. They think it is a dreadful thing, a few villas and a hotel or two knocked about and an odd hundred people damaged. It will help them to realize that the whole of Belgium and North of France is like that. One old bounder who was wounded by a fragment of shell said the fright had turned his hair white.
My last Xmas in England was in 1883, 37 years ago, and I was looking forward to this one with all the beloved children, but it is not to be alas!
Returned from Steenwerck just south of Ypres.
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.
Arrived Villeneuve at 4. a.m. left at 9.20 p.m. Found a splendid corridor carriage and meant to try and annex it. Reached Havre 5 p.m. An interesting subaltern A.S.C. with me, Edwardes. Met also the famous Major Archer-Shee, M.P., is a Major in the 19th Hussars, with remounts and put him right about Tariff Reform which bored him very much. Such a dull day and my carriage is in a very dirty siding. I hope they will clear up this muddle soon – Antwerp has fallen.
* A note about Major Archer-Shee: His younger half-brother George became much fêted in the early 1910s because he was accused, while a cadet at Osborne Naval College, of the theft of a £5 postal order. Major Archer-Shee secured the services of Sir Edward Carson, one of Britain’s most respected lawyers, to defend the boy in court, leading to his acquittal. This story became much followed in the newspapers of the day and was immortalised in the play The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan.
A sad side-note about this – while I was researching this, I came across this entry in Wikipedia about George. At the bottom, it says “With the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Archer-Shee… was commissioned in the British Army as a second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. Archer-Shee was killed, aged 19, at the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914.” It can therefore only have been a matter of days after this entry that George Archer-Shee fell in battle.