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War Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Harcourt Maynard (Royal Field Artillery) 16/04 - 02/05/1918

16th April. Today has been the first whole day here, so I can write a little more about the food; for the day we have each a fifth of a loaf of black bread, which we can eat when we like; for breakfast we get a bowl of coffee (substitute), lunch today was fish soup (very nasty) and potatoes. There was no tea today but an issue of jam at tea time, and for our evening meal we had a similar dose to lunch, but rather better soup.

17th April. This morning I had a good hot bath and my clothes were sterilised. Lunch was a better meal than we have had at all up to now and consisted of a bowl of thick soup followed by a bowl of a sort of stew followed by beetroot. This afternoon we were issued with letter cards, which were received with much joy and I at once proceeded to write mine. There were also a certain number allowed to draw cheques, our hut allotment was 9 but I was not one of the lucky ones. This evening we had a short lecture on “Russia” by an officer, who I believe is a professor of Glasgow University; it was very interesting, and I shall go to some more if they hold them as they intend doing. There are now about 700 officers here, but a draft of 80 go away on Friday mornings.

18th April. Today the weather has been fairly nice and during the afternoon I had 40 winks outdoors. We had a lecture this evening by the same officer as yesterday, and this time his lecture was on “Germany” and it proved most interesting. The feeding today has not been so good and our evening meal was very meagre.

19th April. This morning was very cold and I am told we had some snow about 5 a.m., but I was not up to see it. We had an issue of coal this morning and so have been able to keep our stove going all day and have been sitting round it most of the day. I happened to have a library book on me when I was captured and this we have been reading aloud in turn while sitting round the fire. Food today has been none too grand and rather meagre again, but have been able to get 6 biscuits at 25 pfennigs each from canteen.

20th April. 48 new officers arrived early this morning, 22 of whom came to our hut. Lunch a little better today. 12 more officers arrived this afternoon. It was announced at Roll Call this afternoon that drafts would be sent away every day next week, so am hoping to get away from here very shortly.

21st April. Very cold wind all day and have spent most of the day beside the stove. We had a Church Parade at 10 a.m. and had a very nice service in the Church for about an hour. 36 more officers arrived this evening, a lot of whom have come to our hut.

22nd April. Another cold day, very little to write about. Lunch was a little better and this afternoon we were paid out the remarkable sum of 6 marks 40 pfennigs, this being the pay for April from 15th to 30th at the rate of 2 marks a day, with mess stoppage of 1.60 per day.

23rd April. Today has been very wet and have had to stay in most of the time. This morning I had a game of Bridge with three other fellows. Grub today rather better and included a small of issue of jam. We were issued with a postcard each this evening.

24th April. Very wet all day and have been indoors the whole day, except when going to or coming from meals. We were, so called, inoculated and vaccinated this morning, but it was a regular farce, as the latter consisted of simply a single scratch on the arms as we passed by a German doctor. Grub today maintained the slight improvement and we had a small piece of sausage issued. Tonight I have been to a short service in the dining hut, which is held every evening at 8.15 for about 20 minutes and is more in the form of prayers with 2 or 3 hymns and was rather nice.

25th April. Today has been a glorious day and quite warm and have sat outdoors nearly all day. A little excitement was caused by an announcement this morning that all officers could draw cheques who wished to, the money to be paid tomorrow or Saturday. There was a big rush and it took until dinner time for me to get mine in. Grub today fair, jam again for tea. Went to evening service again tonight.

26th April. Another glorious day and have been sitting outdoors a good deal again today. We were inoculated for typhus this morning and my chest has been rather sore all day. This afternoon we were inspected by the new commandant, after which a list of officers to go away on Monday was read out and my name was amongst them, so am now waiting for Monday morning to come to get away from here to a proper camp, as this is only a distributing one.

27th April. Today has been very hot again and have been sitting outdoors a good while. We had a visit at dinner time from a civilian neutral, of course a special dinner was prepared. This evening we had thunder and fork lightening but no rain came although the sky was very black.

28th April. This morning was very nice and warm but had a very heavy storm about 4 o’clock. We had a service in the Church this morning which owing to time being limited, took the form of the first part of the communion service.

29th April. This morning we had to be up at 6 in order to give in our blankets etc. at 6.30, before leaving. We had breakfast at 7 and moved off at 7.45, marched to the station and took train there about 9 for Karlsruhe, where we arrived about 10 and were then marched to a big hotel. There are just 4 of us in a fair sized room and we had wire beds, mattresses, 2 blankets and counterpane, 4 chairs and a table. This afternoon we were moved to the camp here and we are now in huts; these huts are divided up into small rooms for 8 and we are all from the same division in our room. We have beds with mattresses and 2 blankets, pillow, sheet and a counterpane and an orderly to look after us. There are 2 meals a day here, at 12 noon and 6 p.m. and judging by today the food is better than at Rastatt and more of it, though still on the sloppy side. We shall probably be here a few days and then be sent to a camp where we shall be permanently stationed. We have roll call here at 10 a.m. and 8.45 p.m. at which everyone has to be present. There is a good library here and I’ve already drawn a book; there is also a big recreation room with a piano and 2 French billiard tables, also there is a tennis court, so shall be able to pass the time here alright I expect. We are able to cash cheques here and, as the money for the one I put in at Rastatt has not yet come through, put another one in for £6 here and got the money in less than an hour.

30th April. Very hot all day and have been indoors most of the time. Met a man who was in the same hut as me at Exeter.

1st May. This morning about 8.30 all in our room were informed that we were leaving here this morning and that we had to hand in our camp money at 9 and be in the dining hall with all our belongings at 10, and so there was a rush to get dressed etc. At 10 we were all there and after being searched, we had our mid-day meal and marched off at 12 noon for the station and there entrained for Pforzheim, which we reached about 2.30. We had about 15 minutes march from the station to our quarters, which originally was a school. There are 10 of us in one room, with beds similar to those at Karlsruhe and when things have got going here it bids well to be fairly decent, but up to now there are no means of passing the time owing to the place only being stated last week.

2nd May. Today has been another glorious day but the unfortunate part is that our exercise ground is rather small, consisting of the playground of the school; it however contains a few trees. A batch of the officers were allowed out for a walk on parole this afternoon; they were accompanied by a German N.C.O. to show the way and were not allowed in the town; our turn will probably be next, and we expect to get out about once a week.. Our food here is better than at Rastatt and about the same as at Karlsruhe. We feed at 11.45 and 5.45, and today we had soup, potatoes and carrots at 11.45 and potatoes and beetroot at 5.45; it was nicely cooked but could have done with more of it; we get our 24 hour bread ration at 11.45 meal. We have roll call at 10 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. and lights out at 10 p.m. We buy sugar in the morning and get the coffee given us and so have to reserve some bread to eat with it for breakfast.

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Published 2 years ago by Project Officer - Somerset Remembers

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