“Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night

Men on their way home for a spell of leave stopped off at a special camp. This is a first hand description from one of the helpers.

“LEAVES FROM A LEAVE CAMP.”

Mr Frampton, who is at Boulogne, sends us the following:-

“From the windows of the canteen where the writer is “doing his bit,” may be seen any evening a body of men with tin hats and rifles swinging along the road to the entrance of the “leave” camp. They are of many types, and it is most interesting to watch them file into the camp. One can see at a glance there are men from every walk of life, for the “khaki” does not cover a man so well that his former occupation cannot be shrewdly guessed.

As soon as they arrive in sight the canteen is at once closed. It has perhaps been open all the afternoon for the benefit of the staff attached to the camp, but it is necessary to close it now, for otherwise “Tommy” would make tracks for the counter in order to purchase “fags,” soap, towels, socks, and the numerous articles he is out of after a spell “up the line.” Of course, “Tommy” wishes to go to “Blighty” looking smart and clean, but he may not purchase just now. He is dealt with as follows:- Each man as he passes the gate is served with a ticket entitling him to an evening meal and breakfast in the morning. After all have enjoyed the evening meal, the canteen opens for an hour or two, and Tommy may make his purchases. Cigarettes and tobacco are an easy first, and the other articles sold are far too numerous to specify. Well, from say 7 to 9 o’clock he can buy what he needs, or play games in the canteen. Each canteen boasts a piano also. So much for his first few hours in the last camp before that journey to “Blighty” in the morning.

Lights out at 10 p.m., and “Tommy” is safely tucked up, sometimes twelve in a tent, till morning. It is a bit close, but it keeps them warm. Well, now, the morning arrives at last for “Tommy” who is “going home,” but it arrives too soon for the canteen hands, who were in all probability up at 4.30 the morning previous. However the canteen hands are often aroused at about 4 a.m. by some wakeful “Tommy,” who enquires in no uncertain voice, “When are you going to open?” The response is, “When you’ve all had breakfast.” Sometimes the conversation is not so short and sweet, but long and, truth to tell, “very lurid,” for “Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night, for, does he not work and fight day and night? And on the other hand the canteen hands consider that from 4.30 a.m. till 9 p.m. is a fair day’s work (with short breaks), and do not care to be roused at 3.30 a.m. by a strident voice shouting “What time do you open?”

Well, the canteen does eventually open, and you can imagine, say 1,000 men, making a sudden rush to the counter. They’ve had breakfast, and been supplied with their railway pass and ration cards for use in “Blighty,” and now they are about to spend on luxuries not so easily procured “higher up.” They are easily and quickly served with chocolate for the kiddies, postcards for mother, fancy handkerchiefs for “My dear sweetheart,” etc., etc. The articles mentioned are only samples, for “Tommy” is pleased to buy the best he can get, as a rule, for he has also got some arrears of pay in his pocket.

About two or three hours after breakfast he receives the order “Fall in.” It does not take long to “Fall in,” and the march is begun to the quay side. The first man, for instance, steps on board at say 10.30 a.m., and one hour later he realises that all are on board and he is actually leaving France behind for a short space of time. Two hours to ——- and two more in the train brings him to a London terminus, and if he is as lucky as the writer he will be “indoors” in five or six hours after leaving France. Again, if he is lucky he will have a splendid time in “Blighty” and return in better trim for “doing his bit.”

Of that return, more another time, for it has many a sad side to it, but as the writer is not now at camp where “Tommy” passes through on his return, perhaps he may never give you the impressions he gains by witnessing the return of so many fine men, whose hearts are doubtless very full of their own thoughts.

In conclusion, it may interest those at home to know that both “Tommy” and his officers are catered for by the “Expeditionary Force Canteen,” and the “Canteens” are an institution likely to remain very much in the foreground in the army when the great day of “Peace” shall arrive once more. May that day be not far distant!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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“Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night

A colourful glimpse of soldiers on their way home for a leave.

“LEAVES FROM A LEAVE CAMP.”

Mr Frampton, who is at Boulogne, sends us the following:-

“From the windows of the canteen where the writer is “doing his bit,” may be seen any evening a body of men with tin hats and rifles swinging along the road to the entrance of the “leave” camp. They are of many types, and it is most interesting to watch them file into the camp. One can see at a glance there are men from every walk of life, for the “khaki” does not cover a man so well that his former occupation cannot be shrewdly guessed.

As soon as they arrive in sight the canteen is at once closed. It has perhaps been open all the afternoon for the benefit of the staff attached to the camp, but it is necessary to close it now, for otherwise “Tommy” would make tracks for the counter in order to purchase “fags,” soap, towels, socks, and the numerous articles he is out of after a spell “up the line.” Of course, “Tommy” wishes to go to “Blighty” looking smart and clean, but he may not purchase just now. He is dealt with as follows:-

Each man as he passes the gate is served with a ticket entitling him to an evening meal and breakfast in the morning. After all have enjoyed the evening meal, the canteen opens for an hour or two, and Tommy may make his purchases. Cigarettes and tobacco are an easy first, and the other articles sold are far too numerous to specify. Well, from say 7 to 9 o’clock he can buy what he needs, or play games in the canteen. Each canteen boasts a piano also. So much for his first few hours in the last camp before that journey to “Blighty” in the morning.

Lights out at 10 p.m., and “Tommy” is safely tucked up, sometimes twelve in a tent, till morning. It is a bit close, but it keeps them warm. Well, now, the morning arrives at last for “Tommy” who is “going home,” but it arrives too soon for the canteen hands, who were in all probability up at 4.30 the morning previous. However the canteen hands are often aroused at about 4 a.m. by some wakeful “Tommy,” who enquires in no uncertain voice, “When are you going to open?” The response is, “When you’ve all had breakfast.” Sometimes the conversation is not so short and sweet, but long and, truth to tell, “very lurid,” for “Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night, for, does he not work and fight day and night? And on the other hand the canteen hands consider that from 4.30 a.m. till 9 p.m. is a fair day’s work (with short breaks), and do not care to be roused at 3.30 a.m. by a strident voice shouting “What time do you open?”

Well, the canteen does eventually open, and you can imagine, say 1,000 men, making a sudden rush to the counter. They’ve had breakfast, and been supplied with their railway pass and ration cards for use in “Blighty,” and now they are about to spend on luxuries not so easily procured “higher up.” They are easily and quickly served with chocolate for the kiddies, postcards for mother, fancy handkerchiefs for “My dear sweetheart,” etc., etc. The articles mentioned are only samples, for “Tommy” is pleased to buy the best he can get, as a rule, for he has also got some arrears of pay in his pocket.

About two or three hours after breakfast he receives the order “Fall in.” It does not take long to “Fall in,” and the march is begun to the quay side. The first man, for instance, steps on board at say 10.30 a.m., and one hour later he realises that all are on board and he is actually leaving France behind for a short space of time. Two hours to ——- and two more in the train brings him to a London terminus, and if he is as lucky as the writer he will be “indoors” in five or six hours after leaving France. Again, if he is lucky he will have a splendid time in “Blighty” and return in better trim for “doing his bit.”

Of that return, more another time, for it has many a sad side to it, but as the writer is not now at camp where “Tommy” passes through on his return, perhaps he may never give you the impressions he gains by witnessing the return of so many fine men, whose hearts are doubtless very full of their own thoughts.

In conclusion, it may interest those at home to know that both “Tommy” and his officers are catered for by the “Expeditionary Force Canteen,” and the “Canteens” are an institution likely to remain very much in the foreground in the army when the great day of “Peace” shall arrive once more. May that day be not far distant!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Arrest of escaped German Prisoners of War

The Standing Joint Committee heard how Berkshire policemen had helped to recapture escaped PoWs.

5 October 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

Arrest of Escaped German Prisoners of War

Two German Prisoners of War, who escaped from Bramley Camp on 4 September, were arrested at Woolhampton by PC 117, Brooks, assisted by Special Constable Charles Taplin and two civilians.

Another, who escaped from the same Camp on 5 September, was captured by PC 64, Holloway, at Maidenhead Thicket.

The War Office Authorities, to mark their appreciation of the services rendered, sent a reward of £5, viz £1 for each of the Constables and civilians who assisted, and I have, under the circumstances, allowed them to receive the same.
Approved.

PC 158 Giles Rejoining Force

PC 158, Giles, who joined the Army on 6 December 1915, under the terms of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915, has been discharged from the Army as medically unfit for further military service in consequence of his left wrist being injured by a gunshot wound.

He rejoined the Force on 1 September, 1918, and has been given indoor work for the present, on the understanding that he will be medically re-examined in three months’ time by the Police Surgeon to see of there is any probability of his being fit for further Police duty.
Approved.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

“In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn”

More and more men were being called up.

PERSONAL

The many friends of Cadet Douglas Baker, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Henry Baker, will be glad to hear that he has successfully passed all his examinations, and is now awaiting his commission as an officer in the RAF. We tender him our heartiest congratulations and good wishes. Our young friend has already several years of service to his credit, and a record of which he may justly feel proud.

We also desire to congratulate Sergeant C. S. Stebbings on his recent promotion. Sergeant Stebbings has served for more than 2 ½ years with the Royal Engineers in France, and he has just returned “on leave” with his three stripes. So far he has come through “safe and sound”. We earnestly hope that the like good fortune may be his in coming days.

Fred Warman writes very cheerily from his internment camp at Groningen, Holland. The supply of food, he tells us, is insufficient, but “by buying biscuits and chocolates, which are very dear, I manage to live fairly well and endeavour to keep up my health and strength.” He is learning to speak Dutch, and has made some good friends.

Private Gerald S. Hampton has been wounded in the right hand, and is now in a hospital at Warwick. We are not informed of the extent of his injury, but we hope it is not serious, and that he may have a speedy recovery.

SUNDAY SCHOOL NOTES

Our young friend, Mr Hedley Wyles, who for some time past has helped us as pianist in our morning school, has recently been called to the colours. We greatly regret this has become necessary, but our bets wishes go with him and we trust ‘ere long to have the pleasure of welcoming him back again safe and sound. Miss W. Quelch has very kindly undertaken to fill the post vacated by Mr Wyles.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

“O.A.S” [on active service]

It is a joy to receive letters from our Brothers abroad bearing this inscription, for right well we know they are on active service away on the battle fronts!

Whilst congratulating them on their sacrificial work out yonder, we at home are striving to deserve a similar title…

In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn, and with outstretched hand say to each other with faith and confidence:
“Hope on, the sun is rising, prepare for the coming day. God be with you till we meet again.”…

We are not forgetting our Brother on service. The number increases week by week, so that it has become almost impossible for Brother Woolley to write a personal letter to each member individually, so it is hoped that a special monthly message from the President with a reprint of these notes will be sent each month to brothers on service.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“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)

“Avoid anything which would give the Germans ground for retaliating on our people interned in Germany”

Internees, like prisoners, were able to earn small sums of money by working.

[18 Aug 1918, in response to a complaint]

No man is paid more than 14/- a week for any work – upkeep of Prison or Mailbag by Prison. The system approved was that one man could work for another man and be paid by that other man: the actual sum is arranged between them.

As I have never allowed men to retain money in their possession, though there was no rule against it and it is done in every other Camp, the only way men can pay another for doing the work is by transferring the agreed sum of money to him, and consequently it appears in the earnings book.

In a similar way men who were tailors bought cloth and made civilian clothes for other men who were interned, the transfer in these cases sometimes amounting to several pounds. My instructions from the Commissioners were that this place was so far as possible to be run as a Camp and not a Prison – and Prison was to be kept out of it – especially as there were over 40 prisoners of war here.

In all forms, books, writing paper &c, the word “Prison” was to be erased & the name of Trial earnings book is a misleading one. It is really a book shewing a man’s receipt of money from whatever sources, and his expenditure, which may be canteen, clothing, any outside shop, watch repairs, transferring money to another man, &c. In each case the man spending signs for the expenditure, & if it is a transfer the man receiving does the same. I only allow men to transfer or send money once a week – each Tuesday.

As this is the only Place of Internment under the Commissioners, they gave me a free hand to draw up rules as were found to be practicable by actual experience. This I have done from time to time, and had them approved by the Commissioners. A point kept in view by Mr Dryhurst, instructions being to avoid anything which would give the Germans ground for retaliating on our people interned in Germany and which would enable these men after release to say they were interned in a Prison under Prison rules.

C M Morgan
18.8.18

[to] The Gov

Please note the following modifications.

I. The practice of one Alien working for another on Governor work will cease.

II. As from the 21st inst, the maximum amount of weekly earnings may be extended to 21/- in future in individual cases at your discretion.

By order EB 19/10/18

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“Major Smith has been associated with the Tank Corps from the beginning of its operations and he has rendered splendid service”

There was news of three Reading men.

PERSONAL

We offer our heartiest congratulations to Major L. Victor Smith, MC, on his recent promotion. Major Smith has been associated with the Tank Corps from the beginning of its operations and he has rendered splendid service. We are glad to know that he has come safely through many dangers, and we pray that he may have the continued protection of the Most High in all the days that lie before him. It was a pleasure to see him looking so fit and well when he was home on furlough.

Private Gerald S. Hampton, only son of our friends Mr and Mrs A. S. Hampton, has recently been in hospital in one of the base camps, “somewhere in France”. We are glad to hear that he is now well again, and able to take up his duties. We pray that he may come safely through all the dangers of the trenches.

The latest news of Private E. Layton Francis is that he is in a military hospital in Cairo and making good progress. His many friends will wish that the progress may be accelerated, and that before long he may be home on furlough.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

German PoW on the run “is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding”

Three Germans PoWs on the run were foiled by the brave actions of a Berkshire policeman and three Special Constables.

6 July 1918

CHIEF CONSTABLE

Lt-Col Poulton attended the Committee and stated that he had been absent from his Police work for three years, and he thought it was time he returned to such work; that his Army work was now so organized that it could be easily carried on by some other officer; and that he had now reached the age of 60; and suggested that the Secretary of State be asked to apply to the War Office for his relase from Army Service to enable him to resume his duties as Chief Constable of the County, as from 31 August, 1918.

Resolved:
That the Secretary of State be asked to make the application to the war Office as suggested.

Resolved also on the motion of the Chairman [J. Herbert Benyon] and seconded by Sir R. B. D. Acland, knight: That the very best thanks of the Committee be accorded to Col. Ricardo for services rendered as Acting Chief Constable.

Capture of three escaped German prisoners

The Acting Chief Constable has brought to the notice of the Sub-committee the action of PC 105 Reginald Jordan, stationed at Burghfield, and of Special Constables Webb, Holland and Hill, in effecting the capture of three Prisoners of War who had escaped from Bramley Camp on 24 April 1918.

PC Jordan challenged these men whom he met at Burghfield at midnight, and, finding they were foreigners, attempted to arrest them. After a struggle in which one of them is alleged to have drawn a formidable looking dagger (which was afterwards discovered in a rick where the fugitives had been hiding), the Germans succeeded in escaping, but were discovered and recaptured the following evening by PC Jordan – with the assistance of the Special Constables above-named, who had been working indefatigably all day in search of them.

The Military authorities sent £4.10s.0d as a reward, which was apportioned as follows: PC 105 Jordan, £2; Sergeant Taylor (who had also assisted) and the three Special Constables, 12s.6d each.

MOTOR CARS

The two motor cars which were so kindly placed at the disposal of the Superintendent at Maidenhead and Wokingham at the commencement of the war by the late Mr Erskine have now been returned to the present owner, Mrs Luard of Binfield Grove, and I beg to recommend that a letter expressing the gratitude of this Committee for the use of the cars, which have been of very great value to the Police, be sent to that lady.

I should also like to take this opportunity of referring to the loss sustained to the Force by the death of the late Marquis of Downshire, who, as a Special Constable from the commencement of the war, had kindly placed his valuable time and the use of his two cars (free of any charge) at the disposal of the Superintendent of the Wokingham Division, and by this means saved the County a great deal of expense.

I recommend that a letter be written to the present Marquis from this Committee, expressing regret at the death of his father, and its appreciation of his generous services.

The present Marquis of Downshire has very kindly placed his car at the disposal of the Superintendent at Wokingham on condition that the County keeps the car insured, [and] pays the licence duty and cost of running.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

More fool than knave, an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced

One of the Irish internees in Reading had a nasty skin infection.

4 July 1918
Irish Joint Petition

Report from Medical Officer attached.

Davys told me on Sunday that he thought he had a skin disease caught from the soldiers at Holyhead as the beds there were dirty, and that he did not catch it here. He also asked to be allowed to occupy a cell on second floor so as to be isolated. I allowed him to do so, but he plays handball with the others.

Coles and Hayes stated that they petitioned in hopes of getting Davys released; that he was excitable and eccentric, but had conducted himself here much better than they had anticipated, and that whatever offences they had committed, Davys had not done anything and was more fool than knave. My own opinion is that they rather want to get rid of him as he is an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced. The others are more reading men.

The Prison was whitewashed throughout since it was last occupied by the Sinn Feiners.

C M Morgan
Gov.

[to] The Commissioners

They were anxious that he should not know that they had [illegible].

H M Prison
Reading

July 4.18

To the Governor
Concerning R. Davys

He has been suffering from an eczema of the face since the 17th of June. It may be a little troublesome to get well. In the ordinary sense of the words it is neither infectious nor contagious.

In fact, it [sic] technically I am satisfied that it is not a hyphogenic sycrosis and if there be any colligenic element about it, it is secondary.

It is in my opinion ridiculous to make any scare about it.

The mask is an ordinary and useful element in the treatment. I have felt for some days that such a petition might be forthcoming and mentioned my suspicions, you may remember, to you.

W T Freeman, MD, FRIS

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Steel helmets were donned & many were for fleeing to dugouts

The fighting came closer to Sydney Spencer.

Sunday 30 June 1918

My dear diary! Rejoice with me for at last I have stopped mentally crying & railing on the world & saying ‘The world? Why the world’s a hoss’.

Last night the Huns raided some ten miles away. General wind up in our camp. Steel helmets were donned & many were for fleeing to dugouts. Their noise & excitement bored me as I wished to be left at peace to sleep.

Spent a delightfully lazy morning studying the phrase ‘dolce far niente’ lying on my back most of time. Am now writing letters in Grand Hotel Club. Hope to see Cubitt today.

Had my bath. A dog who craftily escaped waves when fetching a stick was very amusing. Had dinner at Club & an amazingly interesting talk with a Scots officer. He had no religion & was full of it without knowing it!

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)

“I witnessed all the terrific bombardment from land and sea against the Gaza defences, and shall never forget the awful spectacle”

A Maidenhead man bears witness to the fighting in Palestine.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Reginald Hill has left Sheffield Hospital, and hoped to have left hospitals for ever, but very shortly after getting home he had a slight relapse, and at the time of writing is a patient at Cliveden. We hope his stay there will be very brief.

Harold Islip is in hospital at Trouville, suffering from trench fever. He expects shortly to be in training for a Commission.

Ernest Bristow will probably be at Cliveden by the time this has reached our readers’ hands.

George Ayres has been transferred to a Field Company of the Engineers, and is at Anglesey.

Reginald Hamblin is in a Flying Corps, and is training at Totteridge.

Herbert Hodgson is in a camp near Salisbury Plain.

Benjamin Gibbons is in Ireland.

Leonard Beel sends a letter (which has evidently had a soaking in sea water) with vivid account of what he has seen in Palestine. He says:

“I witnessed all the terrific bombardment from land and sea against the Gaza defences, and shall never forget the awful spectacle. Afterwards I had a good look around Gaza, and saw the results of the bombardment, but unfortunately missed the several interesting spots associated with Samson’s career through want of a guide.”

He speaks, too, of visiting Ashdod, Lydda, the Vale of Ajalon, and Jaffa, where Simon the tanner entertained Peter, and where Dorcas was raised.

“The native villages,” he says, “are picturesque from a distance only. Inside they are usually worse than any English slum, full of filth and squalor. It is months ago since I last saw an Arab with a clean face.”

His one regret is that he has missed seeing Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“Dreaming incessantly that I had lost my platoon Lewis Gun Section & could find it nowhere”

It was a frustrating day for Sydney.

Wednesday 19 June 1918

It was raining hard when we got up this morning at 7.30. I had a very bad night of it, dreaming incessantly that I had lost my platoon Lewis Gun Section & could find it nowhere.

I took some of men [involved] in last night’s escapade for some arms & close order drill till 10.30. Camp cleaned up & kits packed by 11.30, ready to move to S-n-s, where we go today.

1 o’clock order came in that we should not move till tomorrow. Had two or three hours of quiet & rest.

At 5.30 was informed that company would march to new area. Am now doing my utmost to get on with the move as the skipper has not yet returned. Now I have to go to orderly room.

6.45 pm. No. 5 & 6 platoons moved off. Dillon returned, thank goodness. Got into new area at 10 pm. Dillon & I shared mattress in a dugout.

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

A very unfortunate incident

Sydney was not far back enough from the lines to avoid danger.

Tuesday 18 June 1918

Got up at 6.30 am. After breakfast carried out the following programme with my platoon down in the orchard which I found last night. 7.30-8 inspection. 8-8.30 PT. 8.30-9.30 arms drill & close order drill. 9.30-10.30 musketry including rapid loading & [wealing?] of SBRs, gudging [gauging?] distance etc. 10.30-11 a break & a run. 11-11.30 BF. Back to camp & a sleep, thank goodness, till lunch time.

After lunch another sleep till tea time. After tea my two rifle sections made concertina barbed wire entanglements. They were very successful. During afternoon & evening we were pretty heavily shelled with long range HV for a back area. One landed about 30 yards from my platoon bivys! Later in evening more shelling ensued. This resulted in a very unfortunate incident. Bed in clothes at 11 pm. Raining hard.

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

“The men always say we move on a Sunday”

Sydney was on the move again.

Sunday 16 June 1918

And so, my dear diary, once more we make a move on a Sunday! The men always say we move on a Sunday, although I have not specially noticed it.

Got up at 6.45. Went to Holy Communion at ‘Gaspers’ entertainment barn at 7.30. Took church parade for Dillon. An old French peasant kicked up a row. My knowledge of French led me into the task of getting rid of him!

At 12 noon we knew nothing about moving. At 1.45 Dillon & I were playing double patience. At 2 pm we marched off for a camp between F-c-v-e & H-d-v-e. Arrived there at 4.30 pm. Men under ‘Arab’ bivouacs in a corn field at edge of trench system, ourselves, 4 of us in a tent near road. A rest & bed by 10 pm. EA [enemy aeroplanes] heard overhead but no shelling except of V-ns.

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