Shelling the town quite heavily last night. The French Colonel Chardigny [Chief of the French Military Mission in the Caucasus and Tiflis] is very jumpy. I am not naturally brave in the least. But I pray for the courage I have not got, and that is the sort of prayer which meets with an immediate answer, and I am as calm as if I were at Bishopsteignton. I never can believe in the answer to prayer for material things, the other prayers are always answered. Six well aimed shells fired at me personally on Binagardi Hill the other day while I was examining the enemy’s position, left me quite unmoved and the thought of any danger was quite absent from my mind. There being no other firing but these 6 shots one could hear the approach of each shell quite clearly and all one thought of was what a harmless sounding noise it was for an instrument that was on the point of exploding and tearing people to pieces.
To Bishopsteignton. Daisie from London and I from Oxford, met at Reading. Susanna is delightful darling and really did remember me, and wasn’t a bit shy. Fardie looking ill.
All round Paris on the circular railway run trains of reinforcements and return trains of wounded and the whole population of Paris line the railway banks and shout “Vive les Anglais” all day long. Men are cheered into action actually on the battle field by women and children – come off wounded and a few hours later parade again before the gaping crowds of Paris. Wine, pears, peaches, chocolate etc. etc. pressed on us at every halt and all the women come to be kissed. Not only panic-stricken people flying everywhere, but panic-stricken engines come flying by in batches of six with their whistles sounding despairing shrieks! The whole of Paris is flying in crowded trains. Parker of the Grenadier Guards (Devonshire) is on the same job as myself – he has brought with him his own motor-car and his valet. After the war I ought to give another lecture at Bishopsteignton [see this entry[.
I shall be the last to leave Rouen as the advanced base has been transferred to Le Mans. The French look fearfully woe-begone, if we were not here they would have given in long ago. There is an awful feeling of panic and despair in the air that gets even on my steady nerves. The air is full of currents of deadly fear, just like electricity, and you can literally feel them emanating from these fleeing crowds, poor devils! I can quite imagine a French temperament becoming insane under the strain.
I saw what looked like old Palk’s mare from Bishopsteignton among the remounts. I wish horses could talk. The filthy War – there are some 5000 to 6000 men a day at the Rouen station and no W.C. Imagine it! Missed my train because it did not leave Rouen at all, but Sotteville, just outside. Got to Sotteville just too late and tried to catch up my train I started in a French troop train at 3.30 p.m. with a Dragoon Regt. a very nice fellow commanding, reached Creil at 12.45 a.m. on September 2nd. The Germans don’t seem to be pressing so hard as when I was last here, but all the same they are on to Creil now and I only arrived to help in the evacuation. We left at 3.40 a.m. I found 2 of our men asleep, lost from their regiments, would have been taken prisoners a few hours later by the Germans. Reached Pontoise 5.30 a.m. Achères at 9 a.m. Le Bourget 2.15 p.m. just in time to catch an empty supply train returning to Le Mans. Passing round Paris circular railway within view of the Eiffel Tower saw a German aeroplane dropping bombs, over Paris – Left Le Bourget 2.40 p.m. Saw a German aeroplane brought down outside Paris.