Monthly Archives: July 2015

To war by train….

On the afternoon of Friday, 30 July 1915, the battalion marched back into Le Havre. They left by train at 7 pm heading north, a journey that would take all night and the whole of Saturday, with a break at Abbeville for tea and a shave. While there, the train joined four other troop trains all heading for St Omer. The weather was hot and the train crowded, but everyone was in good spirits. They noticed that the French seemed cheerful too: there was no shouting or flag waving ‘but lots of people came up to shake hands as we passed.’

And so it all begins….

A hundred years ago today Hodgson and the 9th Devons were comfortably settled at Rest Camp no.5 on the cliffs above Le Havre. They had arrivedĀ  the previous morning after a very rough Channel crossing on an Isle of Man paddle steamer, a long wait in the harbour and a five-hour march. Today was a rest day. The camp had a glorious view of the sea and with time on their hands, men and officers took the chance to go back down to the beach and bathe (there was even a tram to speed the journey).

Today Lieutenant Upcott of C Company began writing the diary that would preserve so much of their story over the months to come – in the morning he had been down to the bank in Le Havre to change money for his men; he rode down in afternoon for a swim. And Hodgson sent his sister a postcard: ‘You may be able to see the Gable, but you haven’t got the sunshine we have here, so there are compensations everywhere. . .’