1914 – September 7

We learnt what French shunting is like last night and Barnes was nearly killed. I made him move from beneath a wall of bacon, 60 lb. boxes, which looked dangerous and brought him over my end of the truck. No sooner done than we had a tremendous bang and the whole lot of about 100 boxes turned over just where he had lain and part shot right across between us without hitting either but flattening my bucket like a pancake – it might have been my head. Arrived Melun 5 a.m. Got train emptied and started back at 4.30 p.m., with awful scallywags on board. 40 wounded horses, 120 bus drivers and labourers specially enlisted and mostly drunk. The station line is a sight. Ground covered with biscuits, bread, straw, filth, German uniforms, empty tins, drums of petrol, gun wheels, saddlery and harness, all just as a child throws its toys into a corner of the nursery. Arrived Villeneuve 10.30 p.m., 15 miles in 6 hours.

1914 – September 6

Daisie will be thinking of me in Church this morning. I have had only one letter from her so far, when shall I get the rest and where are they? It is the sudden change of advanced Base from Amiens to Rouen, Rouen to Le Mans, and now again. In the last truck of the train, sleeping among boxes of bacon and huge cheeses – too cold to keep the doors wide open and the smell of cheese and bacon is appalling. Kind people bring nice things for us to eat and drink at the stations. I always get out and explain that we are not glorious, have killed no Germans and are not likely to and that we only take food up to the soldiers. Arrived at Orléans 10.30 a.m. No English officer here but the French Commission Militaire told me to take the train on to Villeneuve. Left at 11.30 a.m. Very hot and the flies attracted by the cheese are frightful. Arrived Juvisy 5 p.m. It is quite weird to find Paris entirely protected by British troops, no wonder they give us buns and tea and kiss their hands. But for us the Germans would have been in Paris before now. As it is they have shifted off to the East on to Châlons, to fight the main French Army, and on our left is another French Army while we cover Paris itself and all the suburbs are full of our men and trains. Imagine London protected by a French Army! At Juvisy passed a train of 60 sick horses going to the Base. No food for men or horses so I gave the men rations and took hay for the horses from a French train. Arrived Villeneuve 11 p.m. My train had to be remade into 3 portions for Melun, Brunoy, and Lieu-saint.