Very few of the boys slept last night on account of the cold, caused by the hatches being wide open. We are now waiting outside Le Havre to disembark. Arrived at the wharf after considerable rolling about in the bay. Heavy seas. Landed about 4 pm
Very few people about: marched up town to barracks. People begging souvenirs try to tear them from us, such as buttons, cap & collar badges. Many a hundred women draped in black & lots of shops are closed. Heavy marching up the hill for 4 miles. Arrived camp 6 pm. Lot of waiting around in the bitter cold. In tents at last. 2 blankets per man. No tea nor supper. Raining. Camp muddy. No sleep. Wet blankets. Sent postcards and letter to England.
Left Morn Hill Camp at 10 am in full marching order, carrying 130 rounds of ammunition in clips. Passing thro’ Winchester we got a rousing reception & also at Villages enroute to Southampton. At latter place the people turned out in thousands, shaking hands with the troops and giving hot tea & biscuits, cigarettes etc; arrived at the docks at 5 pm & embarked at 7 pm. No tea till 8 pm. The first meal since leaving camp. Our berths consist of cattle stalls with open hatchway thro’ which the rain & wind came uninvited. The meals were under true active service conditions & consisted of biscuits and corned beef. The Kings Royal Rifles are alongside us on another ship. They also came with us from Morn Hill Winchester & marched the 14 miles to Southampton.
*Morn Hill Camp – The Morn Hill Camp was a transit camp built close to the city of Winchester, England for British troops headed towards the Western front. In 1917 the Morn Hill camp was transferred to the US Army for its use. Over two million troops passed though during the duration of the war and a Hospital was even built at Morn Hill specifically for soldiers suffering from illness rather than Injury.
Arrive in Le Havre & march up a steep hill to a camp. Boys “all in” with fatigue. Get splendid reception Nearly mobbed for souvenirs
They sing the Marseillaise for us.
*La Marseillaise – The national anthem of France
[this entry seems to be out of order, as the next has Draycott leaving Southhampton]
>> à cont’d in another diary.
Rise early & Regiment marches to Southampton – 12 miles.
Get splendid reception
Women & children meet us with hot coffee, bread & butter, sandwiches, cake and fruit. Give them many rousing cheers and sing ‘Hail Hail the gangs all here!” & what the hell do we care etc. Embark on S.S Cardiganshire for Le Havre at 7:15 pm. Rain at night
*Le Havre – A port city on the northwestern cost of France. During WWI it was an important base for English, French and Russian soldiers and war ships.
Transferred to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Allotted to No. 2 Company. with Regimental No. 883.
Had good night’s sleep & 1st for a week or more. I sent daily postcards to Ernest. Sent £10 Postal Order to Maud Draycot of Seagrave.
Went to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry camp & obtained transfer documents. Spoke to the Colonel & other Officers. Back to Rifle Depot 3:30 pm
Saw the Commanding Officer of the Company at 11 am. He enquires regarding my transfer. I go to the 4th Kings Royal Rifles camp at 2 pm & see Captain C.V.L Poe, Captain C.J.T.R Wingfield & Lieutenants Jones & Smith. Have an interesting chat with them, Especially Captain Poe. I also meet other Non- Commissioned Officers whom I knew. I go to the camp of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry 4th Battalion & saw Sergeant Major Eames regarding transfer. Camps are very muddy 6“to 9” deep. Back to Rifle Depot at 6 pm. Changed & out to town.
Up at 7 am had bad night on account of man who continually had fits during the night.
Received letter from the Sergeant Major of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. I go to Orderly room and receive orders to wait for transfer. Waiting for Colonel of P.P.C.L.I. to give his consent.
I go out at 2 pm & have a stroll round.
I visit the Cathedral & attend divine serve. To tea at a refreshment room where the ladies are daughters & wives of nobility.
*P.P.C.L.I. – Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry – During August of 1914 Captain Andrew Hamilton Gault offered to provide $100,000 to finance and equip a battalion for overseas services in WWI. The government accepted and the battalion was quickly mobilized, arriving in England October 18th 1914. They left for France on December 21st and at that time were the only Canadian infantry unit on the battlefield.
Raining heavily all day.
I rise at 9 am. Have a regular family chat about Draycots & etc: I remodel the family tree with Ernest.
Have a nice day all thro’ & loath to leave. Have tea at 4:15 pm say good bye and catch the 5 pm train for Winchester where I arrive at 7:30 pm. Nothing is said at Barracks re my absence.
Doing nothing all morning.
Leave Winchester at 3:30 pm for Gosport.
Where I arrive at 5 pm
Well received by Ernest & the [Neates]. Told my tale of woe and amused them generally.
To Bed at 10:30 pm. Had a good night’s rest. Raining heavily.