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War Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Harcourt Maynard (Royal Field Artillery) 03/05 - 31/05/1918

3rd May. Another glorious day today. We were going for a walk in the afternoon but for some reason it was cancelled and so did not come off. There is a whist drive announced for tomorrow evening and I hope to go as it will help to pass an hour or two.

4th May.  Still another glorious day. Tonight we had a whist drive at which there were 16 tables and we played 16 hands; the highest score was 124 and of course I was not near it, scoring only 108.

5th May. Today we have seen a lot of civilians dressed up in their Sunday best, and to our way of thinking some of them looked rather odd e.g. there was one youth of 17 or 18 who was dressed in a grey lounge suit cut rather large and he had a white soft sailor collar with a very low opening just like a lady’s blouse and the effect was rather peculiar. We had a service at 10.15 by a C of E padre, who was captured on the same day as I was and he belonged to our division. For dinner today we had a small piece of meat and this occurs about twice a week. This evening it rained after a rather threatening day.

6th May. Today the classes have started and I had my first German lesson and of course I found it rather difficult; tomorrow we get French and it will continue on alternate days. This afternoon some of us have been out for a walk on parole, but we had a German Sergeant Major and 2 men with us, not so much as a guard but as a guide. We went up a terrific hill into the celebrated Black Forest, which is truly magnificent and cannot in the least be imagined without being seen There are various sorts of trees, but in the part we visited they are chiefly pine, but when we were on the edge of it we could see for miles and there were trees with various shades of green in huge blotches so to speak. We were out for about 1 ½ hours and this was plenty long enough and we were all fairly tired by the time we got back, as we do not get much exercise , neither much food for staying powers.

7th May. We had a bath this morning; they have fitted up a series of showers in the basement, and it was nice and hot. Tonight we had a severe thunder storm. Sent a p.c. today.

8th May. Nothing much to write about today. Have been to German class in the afternoon, but in future it will take place in the morning on the same day as the French lesson.

9th May. Today, being Ascension Day, has been observed in this country as a Sunday, and so have seen lots of civilians in their Sunday best. There is a further alteration in the classes and I am now to go every morning from 10.30 – 11.30 instead of afternoon, German and French on alternate days. I have started learning Bridge and have played several evenings for about an hour.

10th May. This morning I went to French class and this afternoon have been for a lovely walk for about 2 hours. We went a different way to last time, through a valley in the Black Forest, up one side of a river and back the other side; the scenery was magnificent and must be seen to be thoroughly understood, as it is almost indescribable. Tonight 80 more officers arrived and this makes our number up to 180 which is our full complement.

11th May. This morning, owing to all the rooms being occupied, there was no German class. This afternoon a photographer appeared on the scene, so I had my picture taken alone , and also in a group with the rest of the fellows in our room and we are to have them in a week, so hope they will turn out well.

12th May. Today has been a rather dull coldish sort of day with a few showers. It is my turn for buying foodstuffs from the canteen for our room, for today and the 2 following days, so have to be there at 11 and 5 for about ½ hour each day.

13th May. There is nothing to write about today; the weather has been dull and cold all day with a storm or two.

14th May. Another cold wet day and have been indoors all day. We had baths this morning.

15th May. Today has been dull but fine until the evening when the sun shone brightly, and gives promise of a nice day tomorrow. Nothing to write about today. Wrote my 2nd letter for the month.

16th May. Nothing to write about today except the weather which has been glorious.

17th May. This morning I received a wire from home and was very relieved to receive it. This afternoon I have been for my third walk and it was glorious though very hot, and as part of the way was up a very steep hill, we were all very glad to sit down and admire the view when we got to the top of the hill. From there we could get a glimpse of Pforzheim on one side, and on the other side there was a village lying in a sort of horseshoe made by the hills; these hills are all covered with trees and are part of the Black Forest. A few of us gathered a few wild flowers which we have put in water and they are now on the table in our room, just to brighten things up slightly.

18th May. Another glorious day and I have been for another walk today: it was not really my turn to go out today but owing to several in our room not having sufficient energy, I got a chance and accepted it. We went still another way to where we had been on either of the previous occasions, and kept to the Forest most of the time, but the scenery was not as fine as on any of the other walks; a German officer accompanied us today. We were able to get a cold shower bath from 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. and I have made up my mind to have one tomorrow morning, if it is another hot day.

19th May. This morning I went down about 7.30 for a shower, it was not absolutely cold, but was very nice.  This morning at 9.15 there was a service for non-conformists and Presbyterians; we have 2 C of E padres here but no others, but one of the other officers is a parson, though he was in a fighting regiment, and he conducted the service which was very nice. It has been very hot all day and tonight we are having very vivid lightning and a lot of thunder and I expect we shall have rain before the night is out.

20th May. Today is Whit Monday and a holiday in Germany as in England; and we have seen quite a lot of civilians bent on holiday making. It has been very hot all day and most of us have very little energy and have spent a very slack day.

21st May. Nothing to write about today.

22nd May. Another glorious day today, and this afternoon I went for a walk, but it was too hot to walk far, so we went a little way only and then sat down amongst the trees for more than an hour. Sent a p.c. today.

23rd May. Nothing to write about today except a terrific thunderstorm which we had this afternoon, the lightening was very vivid and it has cleared the atmosphere very considerably and it is now much cooler.

24th May. Today has been very much cooler, in fact, quite cold. We went for another walk this afternoon, rather further than normal and so am feeling rather tired tonight.

25th May. Another rather cold dull day and nothing to write about. We started a Whist Drive this evening but owing to a rather late start, it was not finished, and is to be resumed on Monday evening at 7 o’clock; so far I have not done brilliantly.

26th May. I went to non-conformist service this morning at 9.15 – 10. It has been a rather cold dullish day, improving slightly this evening, and I have not been out, feeling very limp.

27th May. A much better day today. This afternoon I went with several others to have my clothes de-loused, which were done in a big oven sort of place and while they were being done we all had baths which were very nice and a change from the shower which we get here. This evening the local Fire Brigade were out practising just in front of our window so we were able to watch them.

28th May. No entry.        

29th May. I felt very rotten all day yesterday and lay on my bed most of the day; today have felt much better. We went for another very nice walk this afternoon, still another way to where I have been before and we had a splendid view of the town, which is quite large.

30th May. No entry.

31st May. I had nothing to write about yesterday. I have again been to be de-loused as I found there were still some about after the last dose on Monday. Today much excitement has been caused by the arrival of Red Cross Emergency Parcels; each officer will get, I believe, 2 parcels at intervals of 10 days and they have issued today at the rate of one to every 4 officers and the remainder will be issued Monday and the following days. In our room, instead of one officer keeping his parcel, we have split up into 3 fours, and one from each four will draw a parcel at each issue and then divide equally with the other 3 in his syndicate, and in this way no-one has to wait for several days before he gets any of the food, but gets some of each issue. Today the parcels contained 3 tins of “bully” beef, a packet of tea, cocoa, milk, dripping, cheese and a good few biscuits, and so tonight have had a decent supper.

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Published 2 years ago by Project Officer - Somerset Remembers

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