“By the time I reached support line I was fagged out, scarcely having had any food for 24 hours”

Sydney Spencer was tired, hungry and under fire.

Monday 8 July 1918

Written in support line 8.7.18

At 8.30 [last night] informed that I was to do a patrol for a certain object. This we did but object not achieved, it was impossible, & I had been in the front line only an hour or two. Started out at 10.10 & returned at 12.20 am this morning. It took me till 3 to get this report out.

At 3.45 Jerry started a strafe which lasted till about 6.30. I had a half hour’s sleep from then till 7 or so. Then Dillworth relieved me & I got down to Company HQ & waited for Ferrier. By the time I reached support line I was fagged out, scarcely having had any food for 24 hours. Just 4 cups of tea & a slice or two of bread & butter.

We stood to, to get men in fire position. I then had breakfast at 10.30. Tried to sleep & couldn’t. Spent remainder of morning making a trench map for Capt. of JOKO, coming in. Afternoon spent in doing a working party making [illegible] bivouacs. After tea rested a bit.

At 8.30 went with Ferrier to try & arrange firing positions. Enemy put over a barrage of blue cross gas. We wore masks. Only last[ed] a little while.

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

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“Rather tired of this ceaseless tramping from one place to another”

It was a hot and dusty day in France.

Sunday 7 July 1918

11.30 am. Lying under a tree in the shade alongside a hot dusty track between Harponville & Hedanville on my way to Battalion headquarters. Had a fine lazy night’s sleep. Got up at 8.30 & breakfasted while dressing. Started this 12 kilo walk to BHQ under guidance of Pte Killick & another chap. A tragically hot & dusty day for such a march. I did so hope for a day or two’s rest at Transport, but it was no go!

1.30 pm. On the Hedanville Forceville road. Have had a long rest here, & got some RFA men to make us some delicious tea.

Arrived Battalion HQ at 3.30. Up to front line straight away. Joined Ferrier in a wood. Thick undergrowth with occasional drives. In front of B Company’s posts only 10 yards between lines!

July 7th [1918]

I am on the way now to B in Head Quarters. I am lying under a tree for a few minutes rest from the almost tragic heat of the hot July day. I have about 16 kilometres to go along a track through acres of cornfields & the dust is about 3 inches thick & there is nary a bit of shade for miles except for this welcome elm tree now. I must pack up & get on trek again. I envy you your bungalow in Norfolk.

I am well & fit although rather tired of this ceaseless tramping from one place to another….

Your always affectionate
Brer
Sydney

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter (D/EZ177/8/3/54)

Learning to ride in the army

Sydney Spencer was training at Doncaster, and receiving riding lessons, a traditional officer’s skill.

Nov 7th [1916]
By order 1804 I am detailed with Ferrier, Brierly & Clemence to join Lt Col Simpson’s (Yorkshire Dragoons) equitation classes on Fisher Park on Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays.

Florence Vansittart Neale
7 November 1916

Our submarine hit 2 dreadnaughts.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12)

Lieutenant Spencer in command

Sydney Spencer was still in training as he saw several fellow officers moving to face direct action.

Sept 21st
Battalion order 4. Following officers struck off strength to join Mediterranean Expeditionary Force today.

Lt H W St George
Lt A L Shutes
Lt G H Shakespeare
Lt A C Blyth
Lt D F Harvey
2nd Lt T G Howell
2nd Lt Tebbutt
2nd Lt C E Durrant
2nd Lt C G S Russell
2nd Lt R R Plaistowe

Battalion order 6: A company in command Lt R G Cubitt, 2nd Lt Bagott, 2nd Lt R G Ferrier, 2nd Lt S Spencer

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)