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.

Goodbye.
LANCE.

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