Thank God to get some hot rations. Sleeping with Cazalet in a dirty horse truck, but comfortable. Shopping in the town. I was received with cheers, they thought I had been taken by the Germans and Creil was not so far off it. There is just that small amount of risk at railhead that one may be shoving one’s nose too far, especially as our troops are being driven in and the situation alters every hour.
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.
4.30 a.m. woken up by my French colleague in a panic to say that the Germans will soon be here and we must bolt. I cannot believe the Germans could be driving us in so fast, so I took the precaution of getting 3 engines for my 3 trains, lest he should bolt and leave us stranded. Then I went to see Gen. Joffre‘s Staff, and got a French Staff officer to come down and reassure my man. Left for Creil at 2 p.m. I should I not have liked the nice rations I took up, to fall into the hands of the Germans. Prepared to spend night at Creil when wired for to return to Rouen. Tried the civil trains – awful. Full of panic-stricken women and children – no wonder. I had charge of an escort of Cameron Highlanders with one German prisoner who they dressed in our uniform to save him from being torn to pieces by the French. Had to change at Beauvais and stay there all night.
Left in car at 6 a.m. Ward, Fernie and myself – a beautiful drive. We did the 70 miles in 2 hours. Reported at H.Q. I left at 4 p.m. with a train of supplies to take to the Regulating Station, thence to Rail Head and distribute. Reached Creil about midnight and then on to Compiègne.