“This officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong”

Many Old Boys of Reading School covered themselves with glory in the last months of the war. E C Holtom’s book is still in print.

O.R. NEWS.

Mr. W.L. Pauer, son of Mr. W. Pauer, who had previously won the Military Medal and Bar and a French Medaille Militaire, and who had also been made a “King’s Sergeant” for bravery on the field, has now been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Croix de Guerre.

2nd-Lieut. Churchill, M.C., R.F.A., Son of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Churchill, of Eldon Square, Reading, has been awarded by the President of the French Republic the Croix de Guerre.

Naval Promotion.

Surgeon E.C. Holtom, stationed at Chatham, has been promoted to the position of Staff Surgeon (Lieut. Commander) in the Navy. He has written a book which is being published by Hutchinson & Co., of London, under the title of “Two Years Captivity in German East Africa.” Mrs. Holtom, of 23, Junction Road Reading, the mother of Surgeon Holtom, has received a letter from Queen Alexandra, in which she says she has ordered a copy of the book. Surgeon Holtom was educated at Reading School and is very well known in this district.

Military Cross.

2nd- Lieut. Adrian Lillingworth Butler, Royal Field Artillery, as previously reported, gained the Military Cross. The following is the official account of his gallant conduct: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer fought his section in the open, engaging enemy infantry and tanks until they got within 50 yards, scoring a direct hit on a tank at this distance. He rallied the infantry and only withdrew at the last moment, having himself to drive in a gun team when the driver was killed.

T/2ND-Lieut. E.C.P. Williams, Middlesex Regiment. When the enemy attacked in great force, driving in the line and endeavouring to cut off the retirement of the battalion, this officer remained as a rear-guard with a small party of men and a Lewis gun, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, and gaining time for the battalion to withdraw in good order. On previous days he had been out with patrols securing prisoners and bringing back valuable information.

Lieut. (Acting Major) Owen Wakeford, R.G.A. For consistent good work, especially as Officer Commanding Battery, during the operations in the Ypres Sector, from July to December, 1917; where he maintained the efficiency of his unit, under heavy fire.

Bar To Military Cross.

The bar to the Military Cross has been awarded Lieutenant (Acting Captain) L.E.W.O. Fullbrook Leggatt, M.C., Oxon and Bucks L.I. Special Reserve for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while attached to brigade headquarters. Headquarters suddenly came under heavy rifle fire, and this officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong. He sent out patrols to locate the enemy and our own troops, and himself collected much valuable information. His promptitude did much to clear an obscure situation and strengthen the line. (M.C. Gazette February 18th)

Lieut (Acting Captain) J.L. Loveridge, Royal Berks Regiment. He made a reconnaissance under heavy enemy barrage, and next day led his section to the starting point, in spite of the fact that his Tank had been observed by the enemy and were submitted to heavy fire. Throughout he showed great coolness and initiative.

Reading School Magazine, December 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

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“Nothing that the war has brought me is anything to compare with your suffering, and no courage I have shewn, can compare with your superhuman endurance”

Florence Image reveals the strain it took to stay strong for her family in the face of Sydney’s death.

29, Boston Road
Cambridge

Oct. 29 1918

My own dear Stan

John says, “Are you writing to dear old Stanley? Then tell him his letters give me the greatest pleasure to read.” Well my darling, I do pray you will get some of our letters soon. I am getting yours so quickly – less than 3 weeks! I was dreadfully bothered about you. Do ask for leave. The infantry won’t know you have been 2 ¼ years without any. When you get back to your unit, beg the Colonel to grant you either (a) your overdue leave – or (b) sick leave with a view to discharge. Tell him how many times you have had malaria. Lloyd George promised you all leave in the spring. Last week the WO said they were granting leave as fast as possible – and again they assured the House of Commons that something like 1500 had had leave recently from Salonika – I enclose a cutting. But I hope the Min. of Inform. Affair will come off soon, if the war isn’t over first. I do long to hear the story of what you did for your Captain darling.

I feel your letters acutely darling. If my letters seem prosaic and material it’s because I have had a tremendous strain on my emotions, and I hardly dare take out my thoughts and look at them at all – because I’ve got to keep well, & be strong for all your sakes. I’ve written reams on your account – and it’s for you & Gil, and to keep Mother & Father going, for your sake, and for Perce [sic] – as well as my beloved John – I’ve got to keep going – or rather keep the ship going – See? But of course nothing that the war has brought me is anything to compare with your suffering, and no courage I have shewn, can compare with your superhuman endurance. My only struggle is not just to keep myself going – but to keep the ship going – do you understand? And so I am the most extraordinary creature apparently. I haven’t cried about Syd – and every time dear John attempts to be even sad about it – I am quite firm & cross. In fact it’s carry on – carry on – carry on – all the while – and snub every gust of longing or regret, love & hatred (like you I get awful fits of hatred as well as love) and save up all your energy for the end of the war and the radiant return to the old order – for you the front bedroom of a sunny warm day – with [Tobit?] – when the war is over. I’ll burst – and then you’ll be astonished at all I say. I get madder & amdder & madder with those who have not been wrenched up by the roots in this war. “Why cumbereth it the ground?”

Well, this is an ugly letter. It’s all imported rage with those who don’t dream what you in Salonika endure – and if they did wouldn’t dream what you in particular endure. But I do – and meanwhile I am trying to get you some light books to carry. I have ordered Andrew Marvell, and hope to get it in a week. His poems. Do you want his Satires too? And have you got a Bible? And do express any other longing you have. What you tell me of Heine & Goethe is so interesting. I’d no idea they had the taint. Tell me one or two nice things you would like to beautify your dust-bins out there. I do hope you will get the parcel with biscuits I sent you.

I heard yesterday that Syd has been awarded the Military Cross for what he did on Aug. 8th, and am vain-glorious enough to be glad, because he told me before he was killed, he was recommended for it, and was very pleased, because of the pleasure he knew it would confer on us…

Your own loving
Flongy

Have you plenty of shirts etc?

Letter from Florence Image to her brother Stanley Spencer (D/EX801/110)

“Few workers have shown such a stout heart and cheerfulness under trials””

Burghfield women contributed to the national need as their talents offered. Olive Hockin (1881-1936) was a fervent suffragette with links to arson attacks. Her book was republished in 2016.

THE WAR

The Village Red Cross Working Party is in “full swing”, and much good work still continues to be done each week by the following members:

Mrs Appleton, Mrs Butler, Miss Bedford, Miss Brown, Miss Cullum, Miss Davidson, Mrs Evans, Mrs George, Mrs Groves, Miss Kent, Mrs Chamberlain, Mrs H Chamberlain, Mrs Lamperd, Mrs Marlow, Mrs Moore, Mrs Montague, Mrs Gray, Mrs Overton, Mrs Philpotts, Mrs Richards, Miss G Richards, Mrs Stroud, Mrs E Wise. Surely there are still more who would like to devote an hour and a half each Thursday afternoon to so good a cause.

We have pleasure in announcing the engagement of Miss Jolie B. Buck (grand-daughter of our honoured old friend and neighbour the late General Buck of the Hollies) to Captain James McCallum, of the Canadian Forestry Corps. Captain McCallum is probably going to France shortly, and the wedding will not take place for some time. Miss Buck is at present serving as a lady driver to the Forestry Corps at the Canadian Camp, Ufton.

“Two Girls on the Land – War Time on a Dartmoor Farm”, by Olive Hockin (Edward Arnold, 1918, 2s 6d). A record of a whole year’s work told with sympathy and directness. Few workers on a farm have shown such a stout heart and cheerfulness under trials as the authoress, Mrs Kirkwood’s daughter; and her Burghfield friends will find every page of her story interesting.

Burghfield parish magazine, August 1918 (D/EX725/4)

This dreamy life

The Russian Imperial family was still alive – but would be murdered in less than a fortnight.

Friday 5 July 1918

Florence Vansittart Neale
5 July 1918

Horrible rumour Tzar, Tzaritza & Tatiana been murdered.

We all nibbling on satisfactoring [sic]. Germans not making push. Our air work very good & upsetting to them.

Sydney Spencer
5 July 1918

Got up at 7.15. Breakfast as 8.15. At 8.30 inspected men’s rifles, hair, SBRs & feet. Dismissed them till 11.30 to clean up. I rested meanwhile in my room, & sewed up my torn breeches etc. At 11.30 I inspected men in full marching order & have them some arms drill. At 12 I went to my room & slept for an hour.

Dear old Maddison arrived at 1 pm & I spent the afternoon lying in a field of cut clover with him. He told me some of his life history. After tea this dreamy life was dispelled by the news that I report back to the Battalion tomorrow at Hedanville.

Domqueur is a delightful spot. Spent the rest of evening playing patience & resting. To bed at 11 & read a stupid ill written novel.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels”

Sydney was uncharacteristically resentful of his superiors.

Wednesday 26 June 1918

When I got up today at 6.45 I felt just as scornful & uppish with everything in general as I did yesterday. Thus does ‘Flu’ play pranks with us. At 7.45 to MO’s inspection. A farce when I simply said ‘I am alright’ & walked off. At 8.5 listened to a long long harangue from the Base Colonel. I cannot understand why such an attitude as he took up should be necessary. Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels. At any rate I shall be anxious to prove myself otherwise!

5 pm I am up in the little turret at the top of the Fleche of Rouen Cathedral. A wonderful view. 500 feet or more up. Had dinner at Club. Had a long talk with a staff Major. Afterwards went to a picture show to rest my weary legs. Very boring.

Back to camp by 10 pm. Saw men & dogs being tossed in a blanket. I go away tomorrow. To bed & read more of Tartarin sur les Alpes.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“I have never felt so demoralised & depressed since I have been in France as I felt today”

Sydney was designated well enough to return to duty.

Tuesday 25 June 1918

Today came the word! I got up at 7. My chest was pretty sore with coughing, but I felt annoyingly fit when the doctor came round. He looked at me, smiled sweetly, & apologising gently told me in military language, ie, scribbled all over my temperature chart in blue pencil the word ‘Duty’ – that he would rather have my room than my company.

So at two, once more I got into an ambulance car & now am at DIBD camp out by the racecourse. Now I am in Rouen again to tea. After tea went over the famous St Ouen church. Very ‘self contained’ & ‘self possessed’. A very perfect example of Gothic in its great days. Got back to camp at 7.

After dinner to bed & read some more Tartarin de Tarascon sur les Alpes. I have never felt so demoralised & depressed since I have been in France as I felt today.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer”

Sydney had the chance to do some sightseeing and wrote to his sister.

Monday 24 June 1918

I thought that the word would go forth today but it didn’t! I got up to breakfast feeling extraordinarily cheap & depressed. At tea the ‘chirpy’ doctor saw me & pronounced me fit to go down into Rouen. I spent the morning getting dressed.

After lunch went with the red haired Flying Corps boy to Rouen. First of all to Cox’s where I got a cheque changed. Afterwards to Ordnance on the other side of the river via a bridge with a hanging carriage called the [blank]. Then back & over Rouen Cathedral. I recognised it as though I had seen it before. Went up to top of fleche. A wonderful view. Saw Coeur de Lion’s tomb, and a wonderful alabaster tomb of two cardinals.

Back to hospital by 6 pm. Feeling very tired. Got round the sisters to let me have dinner in the ward. To bed at 8. Wrote to Florence & to Mother & Father. Read Tartarin sur les Alpes.

June 24th
My Dearest Florence

The Postman will soon whisk through the ward saying letters letters & tear off & not wait for anyone. So just a hurried line.
I have had a slight form of Trench Fever lasting 3 days. First day one feels like nothing, absolutely nothing. Temperature goes up to 103, etc.

2nd day one wonders if one really did feel yesterday & how in the name of fortune one has got past the doctors into hospital.
On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer.

This form of FUO (fever of unknown origin) is very prevalent. You get fever shivers, backache, headache, pain behind eyes, & coughing. There now isn’t that field of symptoms in which dear little Mother might disport herself.

Well, I am up now, got up yesterday for the first time. Feel a bit rocky, stupidly low in morale (it has same effect on life’s outlook as Influenza!) & a bit peevish of a mornin’ me dear.

Here comes that dratted postman.

Write me always to old address

Your always affectionate

Brer
Sydney

7.30 am

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter (D/EZ177/8/3/46)

“Indignant that the Boshe should dare to shell when I was going away to be ill”

Sydney had gone down with the dreaded influenza, and suffered through a horrendous journey to get to hospital.

Written in Base Hospital, Rouen

No one could be more surprised than I am, my dear diary! It is now Saturday afternoon [22 June] & I am lying in a clean green tented ward with pretty chintz curtains at the windows suffering with PVO, this being the common or garden fever of unknown origin.

Here is the history of my movements from when I left off on Wednesday night. I had a curious night. Guns behind us very noisy owing to ‘Chinese Bombardment’ being put up. At 8 breakfast was brought in, & I could not eat it. Took a morning parade but felt mighty seedy.

After lunch lay on my valise & from then on till 7.30 when the doctor came it was one long nightmare. My temperature went up in leaps & bounds. My back ached, I shivered, my head was splitting, I had a hacking cough, & felt extraordinarily weak if I tried to walk. Doctor packed me off. Here is detail how one gets to base-hospital.

1. Doctor sent for stretcher bearers.
2. I was carted off to Battalion HQ.
3. Red X Ambulance car whisked me off to Hedanville.
4. Another car took me to Div. clearing station.
5. Another car took me to 3rd (Brit) Officers CCS at a place called Sezincourt. Here I spent the night between sheets in a massive old chateau looking out over great parklands.
6. At 9 am off in another ambulance car & planked onto an ambulance train.
7. Then 15 long long hours while the train tried its hardest not to get to Rouen.
8. At last the train stopped & a voice from the open called out peremptorily “Ere Bill let’s ‘ave them 21 officers!”

It was raining then. Car brought me here & when I tumbled into these sheets at 12.15 this morning I was not unthankful. I have had my temperature taken umpteen times. It was up to 102.8 when taken at Hedanville but it had commenced abating by then. We were stuck at Hedanville by heavy shelling. I got impatient being of course light headed & felt indignant that the Boshe should dare to shell when I was going away to be ill. However at last after a decidedly near & unpleasing zzzzz bong! our car gathered its legs well under & scuttled, & the next shell rounded far behind by the time it came along.

It is getting on for tea time & I have only just got hold of my kit, & you. I am reading a stupid book called “An Adventuress”! To sleep at about 9 at night. My temperature about normal. 99.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

French holding fairly, lost in some parts, but fighting very hard

It was the last day of Sydney Spencer’s gas training course.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 10 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast, I wrote up some of my notes. Then to lecture given by chemical adviser Major Edwardes-Ker, on Responsibilities of Officers.

Then the usual last day of course lectures by students. Very droll, some of them, too. Major Knights was asked about Green X shells & spoke lengthily about what his CO had said concerning yellow X shells. Jones the Welsh man had a fit of spoonerisms, talking of ‘belastic lands’ for elastic bands! Poor Bin – he was dumb! Hardwick knew nothing but was so droll as to pass it all off. Graham was very good indeed. I had to speak on ‘Reliefs’ & gassed areas, etc. Major Ker promised to send my notes down to Broadbent in England. Wore SBB for an hour. After lunch a short lecture by Ash. Then break up of school.

After tea to Hesdin shopping & a bath at common dark place. Dinner, a short walk with Major Knights and then the completion of note writing up to 12.30 am. Wrote letter to Major Ker, reference notes & to bed & read Tartarin de Tarascon.

Florence Vansittart Neale
10 June 1918

Canadians left 9.45…

Disturbed siesta. Soldiers came early – nice set of men. Boats, bowls, croquet & tennis. Left 6.30.

French holding fairly. Lost in some parts, but fighting very hard.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Rather boring but a necessary part of a course I suppose”

Sydney Spencer continued his gas course.

Sunday 9 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast wrote up some of my notes. On parade. A long lecture on yellow cross shelling. A very good lecture. After a break, we each had to give details for different drills. Rather boring but a necessary part of a course I suppose. Then a talk by SSOI training Lt Col Porrit Morris. A lecture on cause of casualties in yellow cross. Then we dismissed.

After lunch, during which we had a few contretemps owing to bad mess waiting, a lecture on gas poisoning. After tea lolled about a bit. Wrote notes until 7 pm & then down to Hesdin to dinner with Barker. Noticed a French Major at dinner. He was a curious old man & had curious manners.

After dinner walked back to mess & wrote up my notes until 12.30. Then to bed and read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. A highly entertaining book. A lot of ‘sweet’ rain today to cool the atmosphere. A fine night.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“A chaffinch is singing impetuously overhead, & it is peace, absolute peace”

Sydney enjoyed a pleasant day off.

Sydney Spencer
Friday 7 June 1918

After a most beautiful night’s sleep I got up at eight o’clock. Took breakfast at my leisure & am now lying under an apple tree in an orchard with the four other men. We are sprawling on the grass in the warm sunshine & a chaffinch is singing impetuously overhead, & it is peace, absolute peace.

We are now going into Hesdin.

Went into Hesdin & bought some gloves. 22 francs. Also some cherries. Afterwards got my hair cut, & had a delicious bath in camp commandant’s enclosure. Returned to mess at 1 pm. After lunch wrote a long letter to Bertha Lamb & also to Florence.

After tea went over churchyard & church with Major Knights & Graham. Then a short walk. Finally we lay in orchard & read. I read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. Have got half way through it.

Now it is dinner time. The army chemical adviser & gas instructor has just rolled in. We start work tomorrow morning. After dinner, went to bed & read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. To sleep by about 10.30 pm. (After dinner a short walk to Barker’s billet.)

Will Spencer
7 June 1918

A letter … for me from Mother, from Florrie’s. …

Mother’s letter contained the news that Percy had received still further promotion, – that he and Horace and Sydney had not yet met in France, but hoped to do so later, – and that Stanley’s name had been suggested to undertake war pictures, & he had “accepted the offer”, & would be leaving his present position.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/29)

Battalion HQ in very deep dugout

Sydney had a sightly better journey today, and paid more attention to the controversial Billing case at home.

Sydney Spencer
Thursday 6 June 1918

Rose at 5 am. Got breakfast, & into the train for Hesdin by 6.30. It is now 9.30 & we haven’t yet started. Another glorious morning, all sunshine.

Billing has been pronounced ‘not guilty’. Justice Darling makes use of the following expression, ‘I tell you now that I do not care a bit for you or anyone like you, or what you say about me’ seems ridiculously childish. A street boy would have pulled a face & said ‘yar ‘oo cares for you’ & would have called for more conviction with him!

Started for Hesdin (30 miles) at 9.30. Got there 11.30. Wonderful. Lorry jumped to Marronville, arriving at 12 noon. Graham & I billeted at the mead, a long low white cottage facing the church. Mess will be started tomorrow morning.

Had lunch at the Hotel de Commerce. Walked back to billets. Slept. Got some [illegible] out of the sergeant. Walked down with Graham & Barker to Hesdin. Had dinner at the Hotel de France. Back by 9.15 & to bed. Started reading Tartarin de Tarascon by Alphonse Daudet. A very droll book.

Percy Spencer
6 June 1918

17th relieved us and we went into support. Battalion HQ in very deep dugout.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 June 1918

Early church – dog walk – then fussed to find rooms for farm workers till lunch. Heard another officer coming today & one tomorrow. Captain Petcher AFC Maidenhead called on Miss Areson.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“A bicycle made for two”

More from the Spencer brothers.

Will Spencer
15 May 1918

Some French soldiers were resting on the benches on the paved platform between the two buildings of the Blumlisalp Hotel. For the first time I had the feeling that the [interned] soldiers at this hotel were in some respects better off than those at the Waldpark. The hotel has more the unpretentious character of an Inn – is more rustic & more cheerful, with its water trough by the road & its tree-planted space between the two buildings. One of the soldiers was whistling the tune of “A bicycle made for two”, & I was surprised & amused to find that J. knew the words to almost the whole of the tune – which was more than I did.

Sydney Spencer
Wednesday 15 May 1918

3.30 pm. I am seated now, guess where, my dear diary? At Major Bracey’s working table at his billet! Only 3 kilos from where I at present live. I have just ridden over on Capt. Rolfe’s gee. Major Bracey is out however & won’t be back till 5, so I shall stick here to see him & having the football match I half promised to play in. I hope there won’t be a dust up about it though. It will be splendid to see old Bracey again, it is 14 months since I last saw him. Had a day off today. Dear old Rolfe, he did the straight by me after my two rather thorny days on Monday & Tuesday. Have just written to Father & Mother.

At 5.30 pm.
Major Bracey did not turn up. I waited till nearly 6 pm. Rode back. Watched football match between officers & men – a drawn game. After dinner walked over, saw dear old Bracey who cheered me up immensely. He walked back part of the way with me. To bed at 10.30 & read more of my book.

Percy Spencer
15 May 1918

A glorious sunshiny day. A good deal of trouble over billets. Trying to hang on in Warlos for a night at least. Division to be relieved tonight. Up half the night sorting details. Eventually turned in at 3 am after champagne supper & slept on floor in a company mess. Fritz bombed outskirts of village.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX802/28)

“I am just a little weary of trying my hardest & not apparently succeeding”

Poor Sydney Spencer felt discouraged.

Sydney Spencer
Tuesday 14 May 1918

Got up at 7 am. Took charge of company out beyond wood & railway for digging trench. Started work at 9 am. Went on till 3.30. CO not pleased! I am just a little weary of trying my hardest & not apparently succeeding. But still I shall win through alright you see, my dear diary.

When I got back from working party at 4 pm, to find that Major Bracey had been over here to see me. He is at V-rs and I wanted this chance of going over to see him after lunch & tea which were welded into one meal. I mucked about, acted OC to company for a time, while Rolfe & Peyton were out temporarily riding, then dinner & bed, with very strict instructions from Rolfe that there were no orders for me & that I was to go to bed & rest long in the morning. I took a book to bed with me to read. It is called The Courtship of Mollie somebody or other, and is by A E W Mason. The ordinary sort of stuff, but good reading for me at the moment.

Percy Spencer
14 May 1918

A very fine day. Bosch shelled a bit. Enemy plane got over a balloon here and caused both observers to parachute down. Plane flew low and was well shot at but got away. Sent a bottle of whiskey to the boys of the 14th & bought 3 bottles of Hock and Chandon for Davis’s party coming out tomorrow.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

Horribly mutilated by shell fire

Animals were among the many victims of the war.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 13 May 1918

Got up at 6.50. Breakfast at 7.30. Peyton & I took company along the line to M- M-. Men walked along. I took first tack from 10-12.20. On way there a dead mule lay on track. Neck & chest horribly mutilated by shell fire. Poor beast. Our tool cart mules for a long time refused to pass it! They knew!

It rained from 10 on till 2.30 when we got back to A-n. After lunch I to bed as Pepys would have said. It is now 4.45 pm & I am just going to dress. A very ‘Novembery’ day. Yesterday I found some interesting old bills & receipts, dates 1782 & 3. I sent them to Florence. I hope she gets them.

After tea called down to interview with CO. I had let my men straggle a bit in the mud when coming home. Bad for discipline. After dinner to bed & lay awake reading till about 1.30 when I at last got some sleep. Finished reading Rupert of Hentzau, & this week’s Punch.

Percy Spencer
13 May 1918

A nice dirty day, promising trouble for the Hun tomorrow if he tries his luck against us. Dreamt of Gil last night. Somehow he got down a narrow shaft and I had to haul him out. He was in a pretty bad way.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)