Friday 3 October 2014

1st Bedfords on the March

Saturday 3rd October 1914: Our contact with the 1st Battalion tells us that they have left the Jury area, their home for the last three weeks. They have marched sixteen miles or so south-east. Our contact tells us: “It was a most beautiful night with a slight frost and perfect for marching. We finished up at Corcy behind the French lines about eighteen kilometres south of Soissons”.

“The officer’s mess is in a large château where we all live. Monteith, Pope[1] and myself being in a most luxurious room at the top of the house. Five French sapper officers are also in the house engaged on making trenches for the first line defence of Paris”.

“The house, which belonged so some French countess, is otherwise deserted except for the housekeeper who we heard is in an awful state in her room as she has just heard today of her husband’s death in action and is very ill in bed and not expected to live. We have to creep about like mice in consequence and have sent her our condolences through the French sappers. The men are in a large farm about a mile away on a hill”.

It would seem as if efforts, by 5th Division at least, to break through the German lines on the Aisne have been frustrated and the attempt has been given up. This is a great disappointment after such high hopes that the Germans were in retreat but at least the British Expeditionary Force has helped our French allies to save Paris from the clutches of the Kaiser and we can hope that this major success will ensure a shorter war.

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

[1] Lieutenant-Colonel J C Monteith, as he would become, died commanding 2nd Battalion at the Battle of Loos on 1st October 1915, aged 39, he was from Dumfries. Lieutenant Pope would be captured on 2nd November 1914 but survive the war.

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