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!
Arrived Calais at day-break alongside a train of French wounded. Cold and wet and foggy, poor weather for the soldiers. but I expect it is worse for the Germans than for us. Saint Omer 9 a.m. The names up here “Ebblinghem” for instance, suggest that this country is really Teuton. As far as this the country has been flat and wet like land reclaimed from the sea. The real continent begins here. Saw the first Indians, only some measly looking followers. Towards Hazebrouck the country gets much more like lieber Deutschland. and Daisie and I could be quite happy here – Reached railhead Merville, at 12.30. Took a long time issuing. Took over 30 Germans prisoners of the 133rd Regt, had one passenger to take down. Lt. Butler R.F.A., who knew my camp with garden in Sonamarg. Not much artillery firing in this neighbourhood which means, I hope, that our fellows are pushing along and getting the Germans further back. Left Merville 8 p.m., arrived St. Omer at midnight and handed over my German prisoners. A most amusing incident: My crown and 2 stars in the faint gaslight look like 3 stars. A Major, Railway Transport officer, excellent fellow, disagreed with me about the escort necessary for the prisoners and I stuck to my opinion, whereupon he fiercely brushed his moustache and said “Look here, now, I’m a Major and you’re a Captain….” I might have let him go on, but it would have been hard luck, so I said “Oh, but I am a Colonel!” Frightfully apologetic – no need, I said, whatever my rank was if I was wrong I ought to be put right.
For those unfamiliar with insignia in the British Army, click on the image below, where you can see how similar the Captain and Colonel epaulettes are!
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.