35th Heavy Battery R.G.A.
(aged 27 at time of writing)
TUESDAY OCTOBER 13th
Left Section moved off from position at 5 a.m.. A section of 26th Battery taking our place marched via Courielles, where right section joined from Brenneille - Lime - Quincy - Arcy - Oulchy - Le Chateau Glaville - Neuilly St. Front. Halt for breakfast outside Quincy and midday halt outside Oulchy La Ville.
Reached half a mile outside Neuilly station about 3 p.m. Found Heavy Howitzers in front of us. Starting putting left section guns by crane on trucks about 5.30. Rest of battery started entraining about 7 o'clock. Drizzling rain - very dirty - railway staff officer worse than useless (and was told so by O.C.). Hard work loading up in the dark with only small entrance in the middle. Train left at 10 p.m. - all on except Caldecott and 5 g.s. wagons and few men right section.
Total for day: march 24 miles. Entrained battery.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 14th
Still in train - in station outside Paris for an hour or so during the night. Wondering where we are going and how long we are likely to be. Wet and dirty: nothing to do but eat and sleep. Passed through Amiens, Epilly, Boulogne, Calais, St. Omer. Delightful to catch a glimpse of the sea again at Boulogne - only 2 months (less) since we left there - seemed like 6.
Trains running very close - one behind us about - mile distant for a long time. Promised tea at Calais but never saw it. No water for horses all day.
Arrived at St. Omer 8 p.m. and had to wait some time before starting to detrain then had some trouble with my two guns as they had a pretty rotten crane and could not get last gun properly under and had to take off with a swing. Finished at 1 a.m. and went into old barracks for the night. Caldecott appeared with wagons during night.
Time in train: 22 hours. Distance ??
THURSDAY OCTOBER 15th
Woke up to find what a stinking dirty place (barracks) we were in, but still we slept comfortably enough and had good breakfast. Found plenty of shops in the town and replenished our supplies well. Marched out 10.30 a.m. - Arques - Reneseure - Ebblinghem. Arrived 2 p.m.. Went into farm and had mess in empty house. Weather cold and foggy. Found "ubadell" at the station and he came to dine with us. Everybody very fit - men had football match.
Total for day: march 8 miles.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 16th - Ebblinghem
Exercised horses and in afternoon shifted into comfortable billets - men in two schoolrooms, Major, Shedden and self in Mayor's house. Caldecoot, Cruickshank and Hyde Clark in a farm. All very comfortable and rather overwhelmed with the luxury of eating off a tablecloth again. Parquet floors and ammunition boots do not go well together. Staff who gave us these billets said "Make yourselves really comfortable as you will probably not move for 2 or 3 days". First sleep in a bed for a long time.
Total: Day of rest - shifted billets.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 17th
Thought yesterday too good to last. Orders to move received at 3 a.m. Marched off at 8 a.m. Hazebrouck - Sylvestre - Caestre - Becke - rather slow march - road full of motor transport - cold. Arrived 2 p.m. Right Section in billet in farm. Left and Headquarters in village. Very comfortable - I had a very clean little room in attic in cottage. Started by taking empty house but before had settled in the owner arrived and family back after being away a fortnight. Weeping and gnashing of teeth - but eventually settled peacefully. No news as to what is going on.
Total March 14 miles.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 18th - Efcke
Still in billets here. More like a Sunday today. Villagers all going to church. Exercise in morning. Mail came in at tea time. Very useful rest this for overhauling everything.
MONDAY OCTOBER 19th - Still at Efcke
Slack day - most pleasant change - weather raw and rainy. Plenty to do refitting.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 20th
March 5 a.m.. Whole division moving. Good march with long halt at midday during which we had some excellent beer at a wayside pub. Streams of refugees on the road - rather a terrible sight but makes one feel the superiority of the English, seeing how they volunteer for service, which the Belgians do not do even when their own country is being sacked. The majority of the men are strong able bodied fellows - goodness knows where they all go to, as each town apparently moves them on in turn, being afraid of its food supplies.
Shedden and I went on to find billets at Ypres - usual confusion reigned and soon saw that if we wanted any place at all we must find the best we could regardless of orders. Eventually with no more damage than breaking a cast iron gate post to smithereens, we got into a good field and found for ourselves rooms close by, where we had a most cheery evening.
The family was a Flemish family - just working people - 4 girls who were tailoresses and a son. In a big store - they did us awfully well and we had a gramophone especially for our benefit which played very loudly down the Major's ear. Ypres is rather a fine town and except for ransacking the jewellers shops, the Germans had not done much harm. Very crowded with troops and refugees.
N.B. We had crossed the Belgian frontier once more (last time August 22nd).
Efecke - Godewaersvelde - Boeschape - Benincheist - Vlamertinghe - Ypres. Day's march: 18 miles.
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