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Monday, 7 November 2011

Diary Entry - 7th November, 1916

Walford: Tuesday. Went to the RE dump at Beausart and also saw the Staff Captain of the 99th Brigade about baths for our men. It rained continually through the day, increasing to a deluge towards the evening and going on all through the night.

Bee: I borrowed Armytage's horse, as mine was knocked out, and started off at seven p.m., after having had a meal. It was a glorious night, bright moonlight. On my way, I met a fellow called Cane, Australian who was at Ipswich and is in the 11th Division, Tank Mortar, attached to us. Got to Louvincourt about nine p.m and found the railway station after a great hunt and found that it was only a narrow guage line train, not sailing until five forty-five a.m. After inquiries, we found an RE shanty who sheltered us for the night. Thank goodness I brought a blanket. We managed to get a little sleep and got out of the wind. We were the only two there up until eleven p.m., but men kept coming in all night and, by the time the train started, there were 20 there. The train duly arrived and it was horribly cold, not a seat to be had, so stood on the footboard for an hour and a half. Stopped at some place and got into another bigger guage. Went in this to some other place, arriving at eleven thirty a.m. Pushed out of this and were told would not go on until one thirty. Found an estaminet and had an omelette and coffee and then came back to the station and were pushed in trucks on a goods train and arrived at Abbefield at five p.m. It has rained hard all day. Here the RTO said that we could not get another train until eight p.m. Went up the town - quite a decent sized place. Had an omelette and coffee and shave, then got back to the RTO, who was not quite certain what time the train would start. He stopped us going by Boulogne. The train started at nine thirty p.m. We had a carriage to ourselves and got some sleep. Went along at a crawl and arrived at Le Havre at five p.m. without getting a thing to eat, which made us feel rather miserable. On reporting at Havre were told the boat would leave at six p.m. and were put into a motor lorry and were taken to the wharf. Here we found a lot more officers and men. The RTO did not condescend to see our passes until six p.m. but kept us standing in the wind and rain. After an awful pushing and shoving, we finally got onboard, where we learnt that the boat would not sail until six a.m. There were no bunks or food; you camped wherever you could find a space on the deck. Very hard. We did manage to scramble a little food - cold ham and dishwater. It was blowing a hurricane. She started to move at daylight and fairly bumped about. No breakfast, which, of course, did me in. People were sick all over the place, and I was as close as I could get to being sick, curled up on a very small position of the deck. I did not care what happened, shivering with the cold. We arrived at Southampton at four p.m. after loitering about and got to London at six p.m after a very miserable trip and losing a day of our leave. Went and got into mufti straight away, as was filthy and had not shaved for two days and only had GS boots on. Had dinner at Batts and then went and saw Mim.

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