Tuesday 7 October 2014

Train Journeys

Wednesday 7th October 1914: Today the 2nd Battalion finally, to their great relief we are sure, landed on the Continent not, as we had expected, in France but in Belgium. They landed at Zeebrugge and travelled by train (not in passenger carriages but things more akin to goods wagons designed for forty men or twelve horses each) to the beautiful old city of Bruges. Sadly, they had no time to see the sights but marched out to Sint-Kruis a few miles east of the city and into billets.

The 1st Battalion seems to be heading to meet them as it is on board a train heading north, passing through Amiens and Abbeville. Our contact tells us they fixed an officer’s mess in a field near the station “in a house owned by an 1870 veteran[1] who was most enthusiastic and kind”.

“He gave us jam, vegetables etc. and made us very comfortable and in return we gave him as a present one of our German helmets. He was simply overjoyed with this and began to make a nuisance of himself by telling yarns of the ‘70’ war!” When the battalion got on the train they were in for a shock: “The train is a perfectly beastly one, very dirty, no lamps and only 2nd and 3rd Class carriages for officers and cattle trucks for the men!” We hope they soon arrive at journey’s end.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/2/7; X550/3/wd

[1] The Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 in which the French were defeated and lost their provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany.

No comments:

Post a Comment