So I am not to get an English Brigade after all – a very great disappointment, but I have so much in life to thank God for and He knows that, I am as happy as ever.
The War Office offered me a Brigade, then they had to write to the India Office. Then the India Office woke up. And when people wake up they always say “No” – so did the India Office. So I am to go to India, what as, I do not know. The weather is splendid now but cold. On Thursday I had a trip on the river steamer with Germaine, violets, primroses and daffodils out. On Wednesday Mass for the Allies at the Cathedral. Mass was beautiful though pagan – might have been an old Roman ceremony in the days of Julius Caesar. But the sermon – oh the sermon – an hour of poor political twaddle from a Cardinal and not a word of religion or of anything spiritual just “Down with the Germans”. “They must be exterminated – they began the War!” and so on and so on ad nauseam for 1 hour! Ye gods! Never again, thank you.
Goodbye to Germaine and Madame Delaporte and goodbye to Rouen. I left by the evening express and left my Barnes behind lamenting – he was a good fellow. Arrived Havre and stayed with Daisie.
A very cold night and a very hard frost – un-heated railway carriages concentrate cold and are really colder than the air outside. Lunch in the town. Left at 5.30 as a passenger to Rouen, Ward taking the trains – 12 nurses in my carriage. Nice nurses, very amiable, had only tea to give them. Arrived Darnétal 8 a.m. Havre 9 a.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.
I hear Kitchener has given an order that all wives are to leave France whether employed or not. Taking a train up the line to see how things are working. I took the busiest train of course. Ramassage [collection, or pick-up] B. left Rouen 7.45 p.m. Lt. Col. Carter R.A. and Lt. Col. Stewart R.A. (Ordnance) as passengers. I took the Prince de Mahé’s carriage and gave him a rest looking after my office.
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.
A happy day in Rouen which is very beautiful.
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]