Arrived Chocques at 8.30 a.m. After being up all night getting people on and off at Aire, Arques, Berguette, and Lillers. Right in the thick of war again, the Germans are shelling Béthune just alongside and the guns are thundering. We have had to get our wounded out from there and the station is full of woe-begone looking fellows on stretchers. Aeroplanes, our own and the French, buzzing busily over head, Motor cars, ambulance wagons, and Supply Lorries tearing about – quite like old times. The Germans are pushing us hard here and have caught us napping, taking a lot of our trenches, most of which, but not all, we have retaken. Brought up Capt. Pearson, an English American for Maxim-gun officer, 2nd Battn K.R.R. a good fellow – in business – tells us he knows he will be killed, has made up his mind to it, but quite cheery. Also a wounded Black Watch officer, retiring after a bullet in his head – Captain Redie. Went into Béthune – the people have plenty of sang-froid, the very café that was shelled was filled with people and the town seemed quite natural bar broken glass in the streets – A beautiful old Church – good stained glass – not old. Left Chocque and reached Boulogne 10.45 p.m.
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.
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.
Daisie went back to Paris. Things seem to be going well up at the front and the Germans do not get to Calais or Boulogne, poor fellows!
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]
Arrived Calais about 8.0. and Boulogne about 12. They have just been bringing a whole Army Corps up here and the line is absolutely blocked.
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.