Category Archives: Orleans

30 October – Ted’s Diary

How amusing the people were in the train coming up from Marseilles and from Orleans too. They crowded round the carriages at every halt, and gave us all cigarettes, nuts, etc etc. In return they asked for souveniers in the shape of buttons and badges. One fair damsel I saw [was] wearing the badges of every regiment and corps in the division  She must have made herself very nice to everyone, but I did not make her acquaintance.

Well the morning of the 29th we left Calonne and marched about 8 miles and halted, about 11 o’clock. At 6 we moved again, the weather being bitterly cold, and found we had orders to relieve the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the trenches that night… We got to the trenches at midnight and, after having them explained and receiving a few final words of advice from the officer, we entered into the war proper. We had hardly settled down, in fact had not finished taking over the trenches, than the enemy began his favourite night attacks. Whether he came on in force or not I don’t know, but we opened a heavy fire on him, which lasted about 1/2 an hour  and then all was quiet again. I know I was just taking a company to man a little shallow trench when it began, so we lay down and opened fire/. But there were very few – if any! – Germans in front of us, so I think it really was a false alarm, though they certainly fired back at us from the trenches with rifle and maximum gunfire.


24 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude


Not had a chance to go on with this till tonight, We got here at 10.30 one morning & marched straight out to camp, almost as muddy as the other, but mud of quite a different kind, sort of sticks to your boots. However we are very comfy, & are getting some more equipment etc before we go on. I sent you a p.c. yesterday to say I was all right. We went for a route march this morning, through most lovely lanes etc & gorgeous trees, poplars, & vineyards, all the autumn tints were lovely, & coming up in the train too the country was gorgeous

Thanks awfully for all the things you are sending out, they sound gorgeous & I am daily expecting the parcel. Everyone very fit here & all in high spirits. I have’nt had a chance to go into the town, & all yesterday I was as busy as I could be in office; but I hope once we leave here there won’t be quite so much head work, though the physical exertion will be much greater I expect.

By the way, what’s wrong with an air pillow, a small one, it seems to be the thing to have; so light & convenient, & I’ve had to bang a pillow out of my 35 lbs kit – tell Ben this! – so sleep on clothes & any old bundle, but I have one of the khaki pillow cases Ben made me, which I stuff with grass etc when I can, so manage to be fairly comfortable; anyhow I sleep all right. And there’s some stuff called CREX for tired feet which our Colonel has & says is v. good to put in water when washing; tabloids I think, could you send some along, or any similar stuff. The great thing is small parcels, & by letter post if possible, to ensure quicker & more certain delivery-

Well, my old horse had to go to hospital as I told you, but they are so short of gees, that, though we want 8 for officers, they have only given us one, for our interpreter who has never ridden a horse in his life, so I shall be able to have his. Poor old Araby, I wish he had kept fit; Ben will be awfully sorry. I imagine Ben is arriving about today; how the house will buzz with talk; I wish I could be there to join in it all. I heard from Paul yesterday, just a scrawl wishing me luck. Not so busy today, & I think we’ll be moving on in a day or so.

Must, end up & have this censored. Tons of love to all. Yr loving son



23 October 1914 – Ted to Gertrude – Letter

Oct 23

Dear Mother

Just got another letter from you in answer to one I wrote from Marseilles. At least I wrote it on board and posted it when we landed, by the pilot. Then orders came out that all letters posted in French post offices wd be destroyed, so we fondly imagined those wd never roll up. Anyhow, I wrote to you again from camp, so I expect that’s rolled up too now. I had had lots of letters from you all since landing, including some forwarded from India, in which you say you expect I wish I was in the show! It seems so funny reading them. Also a whole lot of letters have arrived here for Ben, c/o me, so I will forward them on as soon as I can. I suppose we must stick to orders, & refer mysteriously to “this place” & “that place”, & mention no names, silly as it seems.

Anyhow, we left the last place I wrote from – give you one guess! on the 18th, & came by train here, by a most roundabout way, arriving on the 21st. The camp there was in an awful state, feet deep in mud, & we had persistent rain for 6 days. Imagine the state of our kit, and ourselves. We got orders on the morning of the 18th to entrain at 2 o’clock that night, or next morning rather. There was an awful muddle of transport, & owing to the mud, well, I never saw such a mess! To cap it all it poured in torrents from 2 to 4 & made things 50 times worse of course. However it’s all part of the days work I suppose, & we kept smiling through it all. Eventually we got the transport off, & marched off at 8 p.m. arriving at the station at 12.30. We loaded up the train, & started off at 6 a.m. next morning. We had had no sleep of course for 24 hours, & had been working hard all the time, so were of course rather tired. We had been soaked through & had got more or less dry again marching, but none of us had our clothes or boots off for more than 36 hours; this I know is nothing to what others have-been doing up at the front, or to what we shall doubtless be going through in a day or two now, but it just shows how one can be quite decently uncomfortable miles away from the war really. None of us are any the worse for our wetting, & when I did finally manage to get a change all the clothes socks etc I was wearing were quite dry!

Such fun in the train; every station crowds of people, stare stare, & shouting & waving. All the girls asking for souvenirs, & almost tearing buttons & badges off one’s uniform. However I managed to hang on to all of mine, as I could’nt spare any, though I gave away one or two odd stars – interrupted here by ten million orders etc coming in – sorry.

This letter is from that clichéd address “somewhere in France”.  According to Drake-Brockman, they had in fact arrived in Orleans on the 21st October.  Ted continued this letter on the 24th October.

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Ted’s letter had been opened by a censor after being sealed; this was unusual and was a check on how effective the censorship was rather than a check on the contents of the letter itself

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Posted by on 23 October, '14 in France, Orleans