Left Rouen Stationary Hospital at 8:30 am for train to Havre where we arrive at 2:30 pm and sailed on the Carisbrooke Castle (Hospital Ship) for England at 7 pm. One man died during the voyage. No sleep during the night.
Breakfast at 8am
Bread, bacon & tea. Many men ill from yesterday’s march & little or no food.
Commanding Officer gives out orders for a route march ah! The groans!
Still we volunteered for all this.
Arrived back from Route March at 1 pm. Pack up & off again for the station at 5 pm. What a march!
Stop upon stop but finally reach the station. We receive great enthusiasm & welcome in Havre. We waited in the station yard in a cold bleak wind for 5 hours & then bundled into a horse box – 40 men to a horse box. Packed worse than sardines some standing and some sitting, our packs & rifles all over the place. Sleep impossible under these circumstances. The door is shut on us and we are left in comparative darkness, for a small lamp which was in the horse box soon flickered & went out. Glad when morning came & daylight.
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.
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.