Arrived Villeneuve 6.10 a.m. not much sleep at night. Sick and wounded and horses all over the place, tumbling down, one died and one jumped out of the train. I was three times thrown on to the floor by what felt like a collision, but it wasn’t. I asked the guard and he said “It is the fog, we can’t see the signals” which sounded rather uncomfortable. A dull depressing day and dead horses get on my nerves. Left Villeneuve at 3.20. The usual ovation everywhere and crowds of people at Versailles. Arrived Rouen 10.30 p.m. Reported to R.T.O. who said all right, go to bed, and I’ll come and see you at 9 a.m. No sooner gone to bed than off the train started and took us out 5 miles to Sotteville. So I got down the line to a place where I could telephone from and worried everybody for about an hour.
Left Rouen at 1 a.m. and arrived Villeneuve at 10 a.m. Our last day in Villeneuve as everything is being altered. Left for Mont Notre Dame at 4.50 p.m.
Arrived Villeneuve at 4. a.m. left at 9.20 p.m. Found a splendid corridor carriage and meant to try and annex it. Reached Havre 5 p.m. An interesting subaltern A.S.C. with me, Edwardes. Met also the famous Major Archer-Shee, M.P., is a Major in the 19th Hussars, with remounts and put him right about Tariff Reform which bored him very much. Such a dull day and my carriage is in a very dirty siding. I hope they will clear up this muddle soon – Antwerp has fallen.
* A note about Major Archer-Shee: His younger half-brother George became much fêted in the early 1910s because he was accused, while a cadet at Osborne Naval College, of the theft of a £5 postal order. Major Archer-Shee secured the services of Sir Edward Carson, one of Britain’s most respected lawyers, to defend the boy in court, leading to his acquittal. This story became much followed in the newspapers of the day and was immortalised in the play The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan.
A sad side-note about this – while I was researching this, I came across this entry in Wikipedia about George. At the bottom, it says “With the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Archer-Shee… was commissioned in the British Army as a second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. Archer-Shee was killed, aged 19, at the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914.” It can therefore only have been a matter of days after this entry that George Archer-Shee fell in battle.
Arrived Villeneuve at 4 a.m. A lot of work rearranging trains as everything is now altered. I am taking stuff for the 1st Army only, to Mont Notre Dame and a few trucks to Fère-en-Tardenois and Neuilly gl. Front. The 2nd Army go to Abbeville, 3rd Army Crépy, 1st and 2nd Cav. at Amiens. G.H.Q. R.F.C.Q. Abbeville – all big and portentous moves. Saw 7 engines going North of the Belgian North line, which looks as if we were reopening Belgium but how can that be? Also I hear our Cavalry are in Belgium. I hear the real reason of the German swinging off S.E. from Paris was that they thought the English Army had been wiped out! and then they found that same beastly little army hitting them on the right shoulder, and so began the Débâcle. It was the contemptible little English Army that did the trick from first to last.
Arrived V.N. 8.30 a.m. Left V.N. 4.39. arrived Le Mans at 11.30. Maroc at 12.0.
Arrived Villeneuve 5 a.m. Meant to go into Paris to see Madame Méra, but cold and foggy, and one has to get a pass. Yesterday a British Officer was half killed there as a German spy.
Villeneuve 10.45 left at 12.45. Met a subaltern of the Horse-Guards who says that the Germans are out at last on the Sea*, perhaps at last we shall have at them. It makes one doubly anxious.
*The Battle of Heligoland Bight was the first sea battle of WW1, fought between the German and British navies on Sept 28th 1914, in the North Sea.