The War Diary of Mervyn Crawshay

6. Oct 1914

Furious shopping, fitting out after Néry, getting teeth stopped. Tea at Cafe de la Paix, a large dinner at Maxims with various officers, Entente Cordiale and frog’s legs

7.Oct 1914

Early out shopping, ready to move at 11.

No sign of a car or a message from Foster, the ASC man. Hear of the Regiment moving and can’t think how we are to rejoin.

Lunch at the Abbé. At 2pm to our surprise, he appears, go to police for a pass and round Paris for petrol.

A furious night drive thro Subies etc, and arrive at Rocroy.

A man, Dickie, most kind, he will send us on tomorrow.

A comfortable billet

8. Oct 1914

The motor car pursuit all up behind the great battle line for miles, bump into a fight and a bulge in the line at Lassigny, and out again.

Tea at Compiegne, gunners entraining. Cross river and eventually hit Brigade near Courmelle.

They got sucked into a French bulge, delayed hours on their march, but no fight.

I motor on to the billet with Osborne, everyone surprised to see me back so soon, and sound

9. Oct 1914

A sharp frost, everyone’s teeth chatter. Don’t know what it will be like later on in Belge.

Turns into bright sun, we march all day, 1 hours halt at Oube Villiers. Hear guns far away towards Arras, a smiling country untouched by Germans.

I go round village putting out out-posts, arrange billets etc

Am in a ghostly old wing of the house, place my valise on the bed

10. Oct 1914

Onward, a cold morning and a fine day. A long march descend into a quiet and secluded valley and billet in the farm of the wife of a chasseur a cheval.

Heavy firing not far off, our infantry are near about. Patteson sees his brother.

Head at Cormelles that Herbert Gilmour has been killed

11. Oct 1914

Called at 4. Cold march to right of army, we are roped in for divisional cavalry, to our disgust.

I am sent to Verguisinal to find French, don’t find any, but a firing line in front and a hang up and gunning, only a few R. E. digging trenches.

Sit about on a coal tip all watching, for a change.

Infantry appear later, and after a little hunt in closing dark, find regiment.

We go eventually to a chateau in a field, full of French, who have to quit in night.

I lost my bed and had to sleep in bathroom.

12. Oct 1914

Start off in a thick fog thro’ Bethune, to a place called Vieille Chapelle.

The French have held it, cavalry and infantry and have evidently had a bad time.

We cross the rubicon i.e. the bridge mounted in ½ sections, soon reach the X roads, and almost at once Patteson is brought back to me with his brains out, his death a lesson in tactics.

We performed with the chasseurs à pied. Infantry come up and we hang on to the city of the dead all day. As I expected get heavily shelled, in evening leave village like a Drury Lane Pantomime, with walls falling and the church spire crashing down on to poor Patteson’s grave.

Leave several wounded.

Eventually get to billets near Bethune.

Found my entrenching tool most useful to make up place under logs, it probably saved us.


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