Archive for June, 2017

26 March

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

Have heard a rumour that a mail is leaving tomorrow so I am writing on the off chance of catching it. Affairs here have been very busy lately. I was yanked out of bed Saturday night about 12 and didn’t get back till after 3am and was going all day yesterday. Things have quietened down again though I am glad to say.

Gen Moore was out here yesterday with Gen Paton. Colonel Collier has returned again. There have been quite a lot of very interesting rumours going round in connection with my midnight work, but I was unable to give any details – very secret and urgent.

Last week, Mayman and I motored into Salisbury on bikes, saw a show there and came back. Coming home was a treat, it snowed all the way and the flakes were blowing in our eyes. In consequence we were blinded most of the time.

The German retreat seems to have steadied down now. They made a name for themselves something resembling the early days of the war.

The weather is very changeable here now. One minute sunshine, the next sleet snow and rain. We have a billiard table in the mess now, I haven’t had a game on it yet.

Yours of the 17th January arrived yesterday also two Bulletins and a Sydney Mail. This lot was held up a good while owing to enemy action. You are having very rough weather. We oscillate between snow and sunshine quite a lot, very often in the same day. Nothing doing here in tobacco. It is all light stuff, burns the tongue and am sure something is wrong with it.

The DSO is an order and ranks senior to the MC. It is practically won in the field now, although it used to be given for administrative work, and still is occasionally MC’s are for Lieutenants and Captains DSO’s for Majors and over.


20 March

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

At last I have a little news to write. I have been moving about a bit during the last week. The fun started today week. The GOC General Sir Newton Moore, KCMG VD came out to inspect the brigade. Just above our camp is a very steep hill and above this are the Downs. The country is very open and well turfed. This was the scene of the review. The Commandant blew off early to get things ship shape and I was left to meet the General and his staff. I didn’t know how many were coming so hadn’t any idea how many horses I would have to provide. As luck had it, I just struck it right Brig. General MacLogan CB DSO blew out as well with one or two spare “brass hats”. The inspection and March past wasn’t bad. I had a little riding to do with messages etc. At first I was a little dubious as to how I would get on as I haven’t ridden for ages. Before I could get on, my horse nearly killed a groom, so that increased my funk. However everything went okay.

We had very distinguished company at lunch too. Not that we aren’t used to messing with stray Generals, but I thought this instance rather unique. Out of fourteen people present, the ribbons of KCMG CB three DSO’s two MC’s and a DCM were seen. The next day Col. Collett went to Tidworth on a court-martial and we have a Brigadier General in his place for the time being.

Thursday I had to go over to Tidworth to get a cheque signed by our Colonel. He is on a big court-martial case in connection with a riot at Wareham near Bournemouth. He has been on it a week now and expects to be on it another week. Tidworth is about 25 miles from here. It is near Perham Downs and is a big depot. There are immense barracks there and our Head Quarters on Salisbury Plains are there. We passed through several interesting places. Amesbury is about the biggest town. There is a hotel there called the George. It has five built up chimneys all in a row together and is about the only one of its kind in England. Dickens wrote a lot of his books there and mentioned this place with five chimneys in one of them.

Coming back, we went through most of the Australian Camps on the Plains. Bulford, Rollestone, Lark Hill, Duninton etc. I saw Teddy at Rollestone. He was in the hut with me at Zeitoun.

Another place I saw going over was Stonehenge. The road runs right past the place. It isn’t much to look at. There are about fifteen stones altogether.

This part of the country is rather interesting. There are Roman ruins all over the place. Not far from here is a fortress, Yambury Castle. It is only a series of mounds now though. Another one is old Sarum near Salisbury. The whole country is dotted with big mounds which were Roman burial grounds. I presume the bodies were laid on the ground and earth heaped over them. They are about fifteen feet high.

Near Stonehenge is one of the biggest race horse training centres in the world. The country lends itself to it so, big open stretches of country with beautiful natural turf. In a village near Codford called Boyton is a house where Oliver Goldsmith was born. There he wrote “The Deserted Village” and several others. I also passed very close to the scene of Longfellows “Village Blacksmith”.

Friday I rode on my bike to Warminster, a town about eight miles away on the road to Bath. It isn’t particularly interesting. I went for the purpose of haircutting.

Saturday Christophers, Pinkerton and myself hired a car and drove to Bournemouth. The weather was the best we have had for weeks. The road was perfect and scenery very pretty. We went to Salisbury and then straight down to Ringwood, then to Christchurch and to Bournemouth. We had a splendid run of about 40 miles. Bournemouth is one of the prettiest towns I have ever seen. We stayed at the Royal Bath Hotel, the best in the city. In the afternoon, we hired a car and drove all round the town. The country is very peculiar. Near the sea front are very deep gullies running right down to the sea. The road runs round the top of these gullies. Trees are everywhere. I have never seen so many trees mixed up in a town before. We were so much in love with the place that we hired another car the next morning and went for another run. It was another beautiful day and splendid roads with one of the best cars I have been in. We drove all round the town, through part of the New Forest. It is “some” forest too, all pine trees, and very thick too. These gullies are called Chines and each one has a separate name.

In the afternoon Jack Clarke came down. I got a wire from him on Friday saying he was over and I wired him to meet me there. Then of course, we had to take another car and see the place again. The drive is one of the best I have ever seen. It was the first time any of us had been there and we all fell in love with the place.

Next morning, we caught a train to Southhampton changed there and went back to Salisbury and on to Codford. Jack went on to London. He is looking well and some of the tales he told me of France makes me love England all the more. We had no sooner got home than it started to rain again. I reckon it is the best week end I have had for a long time.

As soon as I lobbed here, I had to pack up and go to Tidworth again to see the Colonel. I finished up last nights work at 1.30 this morning seeing a draft off to France. It was an awful night too, wet and cold. Jack Doswell and Tom Bennett blew down to see me the other day. They are both in the 12th T.B.


11 March

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

The spirit of writing is upon me tonight. I am sitting snugly in my room in front of my fire. I have written two letters to friends at Oxford, four to London and one to Egypt. The weather, in brief, is putrid. We have had four changes in four days. One day all my water was frozen and my sponge was unbendable. I soaked the sponge in hot water at 9am and at 12 noon, it was frozen again. The next day we had three inches of snow. The atmosphere isn’t half as cold with snow as with frost. It is quite possible to move about without a coat with snow all over the place. In one drift, I sank to my knees.

I got the photos I had taken in London by Swaine last time I was up there. I bought three for one pound, 3 shillings and 6 pence and he gave me two. It is a trick they have over here. One firm goes round the camps, takes any photo and sends the sitter two photos. It catches a lot of business.

Chris is in trouble again. He was granted 7 days leave. After two, he came home with mumps. He looks a duck absolutely. All his pictures have turned black with his language.

I am just finishing one of Vachell’s last books, “The Triumph of Tim”. It is very good, you ought to get it. I am thinking very seriously of buying a motor bike. There is one going at 25 pounds in perfect condition and it is a scoop. With the summer coming on, I would be able to get about and see something of the country. As things are now, it cost about 2 pounds to go in and out of Salisbury (26 miles). I saw a beautiful little Singer Car sold today for 120 pounds. It had only done 2,000 miles and new, cost 320 pounds. There are some bargains going in motors now. Our colours have been changed to a circle. The purple is on top and the blue below.

Sunday 4 March

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

It is a very bleak day with a biting cold wind. Chris (Bill Christophers) is very disgusted with life. He received orders for overseas yesterday and isn’t feeling at all keen about it. I received a letter from Roy Donnell today. He is over at Perham Down although he didn’t say how long he had been over here. Things are very quiet here at present. Nearly all the Mess is away, either on leave or trying motor bikes.

Did I tell you I had purchased some sheets. Doing things in correct style. I bought a whole lot of stuff from Chris yesterday, pictures etc.

Codford, 2 March

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

A big mail arrived a couple of days ago with letters of the 28th December to 7th January. You seem to have had quite a lot of hot weather over your way. The air has got a little chillier here lately but the days are lengthening out rapidly, and I noticed a tree starting to shoot, so I suppose we will be getting better scenery shortly.

The Daylight Saving Bill takes getting used to doesn’t it. You can imagine how it struck us coming to France with daylight till nearly eleven.

I noticed in orders the other day that Roy Fordham had been given a commission.

My arm is still fairly weak although it does most that is required to here.

4 February

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

Your mail of 28 December arrived this morning. I still find that my arm is weak. I have been very busy the last couple of days. Today we had quite the old fashioned English winter scene. It had been snowing all day and everything is dead white. It looks very pretty. The fall is about three inches thick now. Quite a lot of snow balling has been going on. If the ball is squeezed at all, it goes into a solid mass of ice. Several people have been rather badly damaged through being hit by these. The snow gives out a crunching sound as you walk on it, and gets very slippery.


3 February

Posted: June 6, 2017 by saraherhodes in 1917

We got some Christmas presents about a week ago. A cardboard box containing two packets of Capstan cigarettes, two boxes of matches, a handkerchief, two packets of peppermint lollies and a couple of postcards. Some presents!

I have just come back from another flutter in London. It helps to break the monotony. I left here Wednesday midday, I went via Salisbury this time. The line from here runs up a valley, the Wylye valley. The river Wylye runs through it. The journey was very pretty, plenty of trees and water with ice gleaming all over it. In several places, children skating and sliding on it.

At Salisbury, I had to wait an hour so I crawled out and investigated the place. It is the quaintest and oldest place I have been in so far. The houses are all very old fashioned. Narrow little streets with stone arches over them. The river Avon runs through it, also the Wylye. The rivers are cemented up in the town, and houses are built right up to the banks. Every little while there are watch towers etc. In the centre of the town is a big market place. The Cathedral is wonderful. On the outside there is the most beautiful masonry work. It stands in fine open grounds with lawns all round it. Inside, the long naves with their lofty gothic roofs are very fine. There are tombs of all the old nobility dating back centuries. The altars and shrines are very fine too. The battle honours are very interesting. What were once flags are now sheets of silk with just a trace of the original material sewn on here and there. I arrived in London about 6pm.

Thursday I went to the Board and was passed fit for general service. I ran across Colbey there. He was put on three weeks Home Service. He only had a fortnights leave too. About half a dozen of us lunched at Regents Palace Hotel and then Colbey and I went off to Harrods to buy records. Afterwards we had tea at the Waldorf.

Mayman, the Staff Captain, was booked to go to France as a conducting officer with a draft. As soon as he was leaving, he was to wire me, so I was expecting a telegram at any time. I had two days leave. The wire came Friday. Took train at Waterloo Station and had to change at Salisbury. When I got there I found I had missed the last train to Codford. Had to get a motor. It was a lovely moonlit night. The road was lined with trees all the way. The Wylye and irrigation channels could be seen through the trees shining with ice. It was a 14 mile ride so you can guess I was pretty cold before we finished.

Our mess is some class. We have a piano in addition to my gramaphone.