Captain Rose War Diary 18 – 22 Aug 1914: Deployment to the Belgian Border

18 Aug

A day of rest. Up at 7.30, then went round and visited all the billets of the Coy. [Company]. Tried to impress on men the importance of good behaviour. Everywhere the greatest kindness. I find my knowledge of French of the greatest importance. I am inclined to have a nasty throat, and feel a bit headachy. Lunch at a caffée [sic], and to dine at same.

19 Aug

Throat rather nasty, nothing much doing, translated some telephone messages. Was told I might have to assist the French billeting officer, so went to see at Busigny, but was not required. Parties going out on fatigue during night.

20 Aug.

Went for a route march, much pursued by all the girls in the villages, who decorated our men with flowers, and try to take their name plates. Very very hot. Very good maps have been issued. Throat better, rash on hands.

I have arranged to have our meals at the house where Newman is billeted. The owners of the house (and indeed everywhere) were almost importunate in pressing us to drink wine, and eat with them. It is most difficult to know how to refuse without giving offence.

The country round here is covered, chiefly with corn, beet, and potatoes. The chief industry is weaving, embroidery and tissue, many of the houses, of which my host’s is an example, have a hand loom set up. None of the people in this village can talk English. Dogs are not allowed out, unless muzzled, one sees none in the streets.

On going to our caffée for evening meal, found I had to go out, after meal Lee in state of great enthusiasm detailing parties. I to go at 3 a.m., so off to bed.

21 Aug

Paraded at 3 a.m. very damp mist, marched to Busigny, entered train at 4.40 a.m., getting light.

Had some tea and dry bread with officers of A.C. [Ammunition Column]. Arrived about 6.30 a.m. at Joumont right on Frontier, unload the AC quickly, with help of turntable. Then back to Hautmont, mist clearing. Got my men billeted very comfortably, thanks to help of French Artillery Officer. Had déjeuner, met Capt in Bedfords, who wanted to join Aeroplanes. French Civil guard offered to take him, if I would care to pass him back. Went with him in car, great preparations in fortress of Maubeuge, heard here that Germans interfering with our concentration, so shifting L of C [Line of Communication] north. This made me anxious to be back. So did not stay long near aeroplanes.

Place full of French soldiers, infantry and cavalry, houses being blown up to clear field of fire. Got wire when back to say must get back to Maretz before 7 a.m. So no bed again tonight. Dined with French officer, who spoke only French. Could not get my next A. C. unloaded till midnight, as no facilities, and very heavy, men work splendidly. Very cold in train going home. Got to my billet about 3.40 a.m. people knocked up quite easily, and very pleasant (chemist refused money). Throat rather bad.

[Line of march 21 Aug Maretz – Busigny – Maretz c 8 miles]

22 Aug

Colpins quite affected by my departure, mama C. so overcome, strange noise. Paraded at 7.45 Train to Valenciennes, splitting head, and no voice. Put up in University, 12 miles from enemy, now full of rumours, firing heard during day. Had a bath and lie down, feel better, bread etc. very dear. We are inlying picquet tonight and must sleep in our boots, fully dressed. Ulans coming in. Loaded my revolver today. [Uhlan – a Prussian light cavalry soldier armed with lance, pistol and sabre. They were employed as skirmishers and scouts Capt Rose used the Polish spelling ‘Ulan’ rather than the German ‘Uhlan’ and his original spelling is followed hereafter]

[Line of march 17 Aug Maretz to Busigny c 4 miles]

The German Army invaded Belgium on 4 August. After mobilization and deployment to France, by 23rd August the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under command of Field Marshal Sir John French,was deployed on the left flank of the French Forces and was in contact with the German First Army in the area of Mons. The BEF, consisting of a cavalry division and two corps each of two divisions, after delaying the far more powerful German First Army was heavily outflanked and, in conformity with the French armies on their right, was ordered to retreat. With a brief halt at Le Cateau where the British II Corps was all but overwhelmed, the retreat continued until 5 September, by which time the BEF reinforced by two divisions had crossed and was standing on the River Marne east of Paris

The German Army invaded Belgium on 4 August. After mobilization and deployment to France, by 23rd August the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under command of Field Marshal Sir John French,was deployed on the left flank of the French Forces and was in contact with the German First Army in the area of Mons. The BEF, consisting of a cavalry division and two corps each of two divisions, after delaying the far more powerful German First Army was heavily outflanked and, in conformity with the French armies on their right, was ordered to retreat. With a brief halt at Le Cateau where the British II Corps was all but overwhelmed, the retreat continued until 5 September, by which time the BEF reinforced by two divisions had crossed and was standing on the River Marne east of Paris

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