The Mysteries of Croick Church

This week’s post is submitted by Graham Hannaford who is studying from his home in Australia for his Masters in ‘Highlands and Islands History’ at the University of the Highlands and Islands. He recently visited Sutherland to attend the ‘Land and People in the Northern Highlands’ conference in Bettyhill. On his way north, he stopped by Croick.

Croick church, dating from 1827, is twenty-four miles due west from Dornoch. A Thomas Telford-designed church, its place in history was cemented in 1845 as the scene of an infamous episode of the Highland clearances.

Croick Church (photo: Graham Hannaford)

Croick Church (photo: Graham Hannaford)

In 1842, James Gillanders, factor to an absent landlord, attempted to evict the Glencalvie tenants for sheep. His efforts finally succeeded on 24 May 1845 when eighteen families were cleared from their homes. The Times report of the events was quoted on 12 June 1845 in the UK Parliament during the often-times acrimonious debate on the Poor Law (Scotland) Amendment Bill:

Mr Crawford MP: He referred to the dispossessment of the tenantry of Ardgay near Tain, Ross-shire, parish of Kincardner [sic], the inhabitants of Glencalvie. “These families, consisting of ninety-two individuals, supported themselves in comparative comfort without a pauper amongst them; owed no rent, and were ready to pay as much as anyone would give for the land, which they and their forefathers had occupied for centuries. With the exception of two individuals who were permitted to remain, the whole of the people left the glen on Saturday afternoon and took refuge in their churchyard. They had been round to every heritor and factor in the neighbourhood, and twelve out of the eighteen families had been unable to find shelter. Behind the church a long kind of booth was erected, the roof formed of tarpauling stretched over poles, the sides closed in with horsecloths, rugs, blankets, and plaids. This was the refuge of the Glencalvie people. With their bedding and their children, they all removed late on Saturday afternoon to this place of temporary shelter. A fire was kindled in the churchyard, round which the poor children clustered; two cradles with infants in them were placed close to the fire. Of the people who passed the night in the churchyard with most insufficient shelter, twenty-three were children under ten years of age, seven persons were sickly and in bad health, and ten above sixty years of age, about eight are young married men; there are a few grown-up children, and the rest are persons in middle life, from forty to fifty years of age. On the Monday following they met the agent, who paid them the amount agreed upon for their stock, and their proportion for going out peaceably. The sum they had to receive is evidence that they were not in the condition of paupers; but this sum will soon be spent and then they must become paupers.”

Perhaps the refugees chose to shelter in the churchyard rather than in the church itself because that would have seemed to them a desecration. In 1843, following a schism, the congregation in the established church had shrunk to ten and most of those for whom the church was built had joined the Free Church whose ministers were quick to draw attention to the Glencalvie evictions. Was the church refused to them as a place of refuge because of the schism? Perhaps, more pragmatic considerations prevailed: did the placement of pews in the church render it unsuitable for even a temporary residence for so many people?

Pews inside Croick Church (photo: Graham Hannaford)

Pews inside Croick Church (photo: Graham Hannaford)

Messages scratched on the church windows include: “Glencalvie people was in the churchyard here May 24 1845” and “The Glencalvie tenants resided here May 24 1845” and, most poignantly, “Glencalvie People the wicked generation Glencalvie”. They are in copperplate handwriting, in English. The reporter to The Times claimed he could not speak to the people, as they knew only Gaelic and he only English. However the New Statistical Account of the parish, written only five years before these events, recorded that, while Gaelic remained the dominant language, “the greater proportion” of the thirty-five pupils at the parish school, which was then situated beside the church, could read and write English as well as Gaelic. The long existence of the parish school, and the sporadic appearance of Gaelic Schools in the glen itself since the mid 1810s, suggests that a good number of the Glencalvie people could read or write one or both languages. We will never know which individuals took the time to inscribe those messages in such a permanent way.

Ironically, the sheep for which the people were cleared have now long gone. Glencalvie is now part of a sporting estate.

Landscape around Croick Church (photo: Graham Hannaford)

Landscape around Croick Church (photo: Graham Hannaford)

Sources:
http://www.croickchurch.com
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/bonarbridge/croickchurch/
http://www.scran.ac.uk/
New Statistical Account of Scotland (Edinburgh: 1845)
Richards E., A History of the Highland Clearances: Agrarian Transformation and the Evictions1746-1886 (London: Croom Helm, 1982)
Richards E., The Highland Clearances (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2008)
For the full debate on the Poor Law (Scotland) Amendment Bill see http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/sittings/1845 (The text quoted above was been slightly amended to improve readability.)

A Highland Quest, 2014

This week Professor Eric Richards reflects on the three months he spent in northern Scotland this summer as Carnegie Visiting Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for History.

Historical research often depends on serendipity, on chance connections, many leading to dead ends. The Carnegie Trust brought me from Australia for three summer months in the Highlands in 2014 and gave me special moments just like these. One was the lucky find, in the Highland Archives in Inverness, of a small bundle of unseen documents relating to the Munro of Novar estates which witnessed a sustained explosion of protest among the small tenantry in the Spring of 1820. These were the Culrain Riots in Easter Ross, quite well known from other sources, but here were some internal documents of the estate factors and the legal authorities, which exposed much more about the origins and the pattern of the events. The Culrain events were a well co-ordinated spasm of popular resistance against a clearing landlord. Munro had ordered the removal of a large number of small tenants to make way for a new sheep farmer. He needed Culrain cleared.

Culrain today. A peaceful, sparsely-populated 'improved farm' with no hint of the problems and resistance of its inhabitants 150 years ago.

Culrain today. A peaceful, sparsely-populated ‘improved farm’ with no hint of the problems and resistance of its inhabitants 200 years ago.

The protest entailed a series of riots in which women were at the forefront, leading the resistance, humiliating the authorities, generating great alarm for law and order, and eventually causing the intervention of military force to suppress the ‘rebellion’. The women at Culrain were reinforced by men allegedly dressed as women: the main group of men remained in the background ready to act. The Munro documents also exposed the ineffectual plans of the landlord to make provision for the people he was about to evict, namely the offer of their resettlement at the Cape of Good Hope or on moors in the West of England. The events in Culrain, and at neighbouring Gruids soon afterwards, prompt a reconsideration of the question of resistance during the clearances, the prominence of women, and the place of women in both traditional and transitional Highlands of the early nineteenth century. These episodes, often following strikingly similar patterns, had been recurring ever since the 1790s and continued even at late as the 1860s, for instance at Clashmore in Assynt. They prefigured some of the later radicalised crofter agitation of the ‘Land Raids’.

Another happy chance was a find of emigrants’ letters in Gairloch, letters written in the early 1850s from Gairloch to people who had left for New South Wales a few years earlier. This type of correspondence is pure gold, the direct voice from ‘people below’ – in this instance they reported the potato famine in the west, they celebrated the death of the local estate factor, and they explained the unpopularity of the well-meaning improvement polices of Dr John Mackenzie. The Gairloch horde was a nice moment in the unending quest for emigrant letters and all documents about the circumstances of Highland emigration.
Then, reaching Stornoway and the Long Island for the first time, a new old world was opened up. Here I discovered a bewildering set of variants on the general narrative of the Clearances. The clearance events in Lewis and Harris have been extremely well-documented by local historians such as Angus Macleod and Bill Lawson. I was shown around innumerable townships where evictions and resettlements had occurred, and the great question was usually the actual sequence of displacement and transplantation of communities over long historical time. Evidently in many paces people were shifted about decade after decade – and this history makes less surprising the eventual upsurge of resistance and revolt – and the demand for the resumption of the old lands of the forbears.

Travelling around the Highlands arouses all sorts of questions, with hares running in several directions. One was the notion of a comparison of cleared with non-cleared zones within the region during the Age of the Clearances. This would be a big and unexplored agenda, even that of identifying the locations for comparison. I began to think of another comparison, on a much smaller scale might be more manageable. This entailed two islands involved in ‘precipitate emigration’ in the mid nineteenth century. It is intriguing that sudden ‘mass ‘emigration affected the insular communities of St Kilda (to Port Phillip in 1852) and of Handa (to Canada in 1848). Each episode was small enough and reasonably well documented to allow detailed investigation of the propellants of these emigrations, and perhaps offer unusual insights into the pressure of circumstances (notably from their respective landlords) in each case. But there is never enough evidence, especially direct testimony of the emigrating people themselves.

Eric Richards modelling Australian headware at the Centre for History in Dornoch. With David Worthington and Jim McPherson.  July 2014.

Eric Richards (centre) modelling Australian headware at the Centre for History in Dornoch. With David Worthington and Jim McPherson. July 2014.

Reay Clarke, a well-known farmer in Edderton, has just published an important book on sheepfarming in Sutherland, and he has long connections of his own with a great sheep farming family in Edderachillis. He writes critically of the great and ostensibly permanent damage that sheep farming has inflicted on the Highland environment and on the productive capacity of the land. Talking to the author immediately stimulated the idea of a long distance comparison with the impact of sheep farming on Aboriginal Australia and on the Australian environment – a subject of much current contention among historians. And of course there was always a fine irony in the importation of sheep farmers and shepherds from the Highlands into colonial Australia, some of them cleared, some of them so successful that they eventually undermined the Highland sheep economy itself.

Two other questions kept intruding on all these other Highland thoughts. I was in pursuit of the much-decried figure of the Highland estate factor, especially his role in the clearances. He was responsible not only for the management of the estates but also for the rough work of eviction and resettlement. Once more the challenge is to sort out the mythology from the realities of Highland life in those times, and to put the matter in perspective.

The other question brought me back to my benefactor, Andrew Carnegie. Not only the richest man in the world, he was also the most successful returned emigrant, using some of his colossal wealth to educate his homeland. In the Highlands there were earlier returned migrants who employed their overseas wealth to cross-subsidize their estates – from the East Indies, from India, from the United States and Canada. But even more prevalent, especially in the Age of the Clearances, was wealth generated in the Caribbean, from the slave trade and the slave plantations. This is a subject now being energetically excavated which casts a not always attractive light on the region as beneficiary of tainted wealth. So my Highland agenda kept expanding, but there must be help from among the new legions of Highland historians.

Reay Clarke’s book can be ordered from the Islands Book Trust: http://www.theislandsbooktrust.com/

Wandering in the Strath: A History Fieldtrip

Alison Kennedy, a fourth year Scottish History student at UHI, writes about her experience of a fieldtrip in Sutherland.

Recently students and staff from the Universities of Highlands and Islands and Aberdeen, met in Helmsdale to explore the landscape of the clearances and other historic sites in the Strath of Kildonan.

First stop was Lower Caen which was the subject of a community archaeological excavation in June 2013. The dig focused on the final phase of occupation and the abandonment of a longhouse and its outbuildings. Later, displayed at Timespan’s Museum, we saw some of the artefacts discovered at the township: pottery, the remains of shoes and parts of a whisky still. The site is up a steep incline from the road and the settlement would have been exposed to the elements. Often cattle were kept under the same roof as the family, especially during the severe winter months. In the spring of 1807 200 cows, 500 cattle and more than 200 ponies died in the severe conditions in Kildonan alone.

Next stop was Kilphedir and the clearance settlement of Chorick. Here we are in the corn drying kiln!

The fieldtrippers in the corn-drying kiln

The fieldtrippers in the corn-drying kiln

These were often built into the slope of the hillside and were used to dry cereal crops. At Eldrable, on the opposite side of the River Helmsdale, we spotted horizontal cultivation terraces which farmers had used to grow their crops. Some agricultural critics suggested that terraces like these produced poor crops and encouraged farmers to draw furrows up and down the slope to improve drainage.

Remains of runrig field systems, Eldrable

Remains of runrig field systems, Eldrable

We then stopped at Baile an Or, site of the Sutherland gold rush in 1869. Robert Gilchrist’s find of an ounce of gold, worth £3, prompted a host of prospectors to arrive. Now no evidence remains of the extensive settlement of rough huts built to house as many as 500 hopeful people.

Last stop for the morning was Ach-na-h’uaidh at the southern end of the Strath of Strathnaver. The Rev. Sage preached at this meeting house for the last time in 1819 when he and his parishioners were cleared to make way for sheep farming. The walls and adjoining graveyard partially survive, together with three headstones marking the final resting place of some shepherding Chisholms and a Gordon.

Gravestones at Achnahui

Gravestones at Achnahui

Our picnic lunch was eaten in the shelter of Kinbrace Cemetery’s wall as we endeavoured to find a spot away from the wind. A circular sheepfold stood in the distance, and a brightly coloured corrugated iron roof of a disused shepherd’s house was a few yards away. One of the table stones in the graveyard is dedicated to George Grant who died on 1 May 1857. George served with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Many men from Kildonan were away serving with the regiment when the Clearances swept through their native land.

By Kinbrace Cemetary

By Kinbrace Cemetary

Retracing our steps, we visited the broch at Upper Suisgill. Many of the stones used in the construction have been robbed to use elsewhere but the remains, measuring 12m in diameter and walls up to 4.5m thick, show what an impressive structure this must have been.

Our last stop was Kildonan church where a sermon on the clearances and emigration was preached by Professor Marjory Harper from the imposing pulpit to all the students. Today the church is used for special services and events. The plaque commemorates George Bannerman of Kildonan, great-grandfather of the Right Honorable John G. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada 1957-1963, whose ancestors probably came from the nearby township of Learable, as well as commemorating the settlers who migrated to the Red River Settlement.

Plaque at Kildonan Church

Plaque at Kildonan Church

Arriving back at Helmsdale we had a look at the exhibits in the excellent Timespan Museum and Arts Centre and immersed ourselves in the virtual world of the reconstruction of Caen township.

Part of the Diaspora Tapestry

Part of the Diaspora Tapestry

Our day finished with visiting the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Exhibition hosted by local needle-workers in Helmsdale Community Centre. It depicts Scotland’s global legacy through tapestry. Although by now dark, our goodbyes were made fittingly under the Emigrants’ Monument erected in memory of the people who went to the Red River Settlement. A very enjoyable day!

Sources:
Clerk, Archibald, Second Statistical Account for the Parish of Duirinish, Skye 1834-45
Discovery and Excavation in Scotland Vol. 14 (Archaeology Scotland, 2013)
Inverness Courier
Sage, Donald, Memorabilia Domestica; or Parish Life in the North of Scotland (Wick, 1899)
Timespan – Museum without Walls, Scotland’s Clearances Trail App, Helmsdale Heritage and Arts Society (2012)

Captain Rose War Diary Postscript

As a result of viewing the Captain Rose War Diary on the Historylinks website (http://www.Historylinks.org.uk) on 7 February 2011 Mrs Stella Barber (nee Honeyball) contacted the museum seeking contact with the descendants of Captain Rose, who was from Ospisdale. She said that her father, who served in the Cameronians during WW1, was actually holding Captain Rose, trying to move him to safety after he was first injured, when the Captain got the second shot that killed him. Her father was then shot and injured and whilst convalescing in Scotland he was able to write an account of what happened on Oct 22 1914 from his diary.

Mrs Barber was linked with Mrs Carol Haq, grand-daughter of Capt Rose,and she later provided Historylinks with a copy of ‘My Life & Experience in the Army 1906 ….1918’ by her father Arthur Charles Honeyball. With her permission an extract from her father’s account can now be added as a postscript to the War Diary of Captain Rose.

“In the division we were in was the Argyle and Sutherland Hrs. the Middlesex Rgt. and Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and every day each regiment takes it in turns of leading the column. It was 21st October, and the A.+ S.H. were in front, and we were second. That night the Argyles got shelled, they had a few killed and wounded, as also did my regiment. We went into a field and built head cover in case of attack, but the enemy drew off. Early next morning my company was sent out as a covering party, so the company in rear could dig trenches. We went to the front for about 800 yards, and we got to some wire fencing, the enemy opened fire on us, my platoon was on the left of the road, and we got it thick, I shall draw, or rather make a small sketch of our position we went into. We had a good many killed and wounded and the enemy was too strong for us to check their advance, so we had to retire.

“So my platoon retired to a barn about 100 yds away and we placed the wounded behind a hay-stack. Captain Rose told me to stay with the chaps that were wounded and he retired with the company another 100yds further back into a ditch. I bandaged a couple of chaps up that had got shot in the leg, and a chum of mine Sgt Sadler was shot in the abdomen. I done what I could for him, but he succumbed to his wound. I tried to get a message from him but he could not speak. Soon after that, a man named Potter came back and he said that he was sent to look after the wounded, so I went back to where Captain Rose was. We then retired from the ditch for about 50 yds. because the Germans were advancing again and we were not strong enough to hold them, Captain Rose said that he would see where we could retire to next time, and as he looked round he was shot in the back. I, and another young chap that was near, went over to Captain Rose and as I got up my rifle was hit, the stinging sensation made me drop it quick. I thought I was shot in the arm at first, when we got to Captain Rose I asked him where he had got it , he said in the back, as soon as he said that, he got another that killed him. I had got hold of him by the feet, and the other chap had got hold of his shoulders, by the time he got the second shot. And then I got mine through the thigh. I must have fainted after that, because when I came to my senses I was in a ditch and no one seemed near me, and I did not know which way to go. The shots were whizzing overhead, and then there was a lull in the firing, so I thought I would look and see if I recognized anything. I then knew which way to go.

“I was dragging myself along, when I caught sight of a house, so I thought if I could manage to get there I might be alright. So I kept on and it seemed like hours, although the distance was not more than 500 yards from where I was wounded. I got to within 50 yards of the house when I caught sight of some of my regiment in the trenches they had made. When I saw them I said “Thank God” Mr Rooke a young Lieutenant came and helped me up to the house that I was trying to get to, then he called the stretcher bearers and they carried me back to where the doctor was, and even then we were not out of danger, a “Jack Johnson” came over and killed 2 ammunition ponies, also the doctors horse.

“I was wounded at 10am. 22 October, and I left the place where the doctor was about 6pm. I was taken to the Field Hospital for an injection to prevent blood poisoning, from there I was taken to the train at Ballral Station, from there I went to Bologne, from there I crossed to Southampton on the Yacht ‘Albion’ a very nice yacht lent to the government by a Mr Loufler of London. I was taken to Cambridge Hospital Aldershot.

“When I was well enough to be moved I was sent to Thorncombe Military Hospital Bramley Surrey.

“This place is a private house belonging to Colonel Fisher Rowe of the Grenadier Guards, I soon got better and I received 14 days sick furlough.

“I rejoined at the Depot Hamilton on 16th December 1914, and I got light duty for 3 weeks and then sent to this place Nigg,

I think this is all I have to tell you, I hope it will interest one and all, please excuse the mistakes I have made because I am not very good at writing. You will find the sketch on the next page
from yours truly,
Cpl. Arthur Charles Honeyball
3rd Scottish Rifles
Nigg Camp
Ross-shire.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
a) Wood where enemy were
b) Wire fence where my platoon was,, X… I had my section this side
c) The other three sections of my platoon
d) Road
e) Barn, where my company retired to
f) Haystack where the wounded were carried to
g) Ditch
h) Ditch along side of the road (to the house I was making for after I was wounded)
i) The house I was making for
j) The trench where I saw some of my regiment were
k) The haystack to which I was carried, and some of my regiment were
l) The house behind which the two ponies and the doctors horse was killed

Captain Rose War Diary 15- 14 Oct 1914: The Diary Ends

15 Oct.

Up at 3 for orders. Stand to arms 5-30. Stand by 6-30 ??? still standing by, but hear that all danger being over we are to return to army troops. Understand we are to go into billets.

Presents of tobacco and dried fruit arrive, from papers and societies. 4 p.m. move off without notice into B,, but alas just as we arrive at billets, informed not going, so out, Eat a piece of bread and jam. I to lead A.G. [Advance Guard], learn up routes. Move to Steenwerck Move into filthy cow field. Very unpleasant night, hardly sleep at all.

[Line of march 15 Oct Balleul to Steenwerck c 3 miles]

[Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in the Capt Rose collection  2008.142.055  with inscription "Mails from home by the wayside outside Steenwerck". The photograph was taken on 15/10/14 and shows Capt Rose on the right]

[Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in the Capt Rose collection 2008.142.055 with inscription “Mails from home by the wayside outside Steenwerck”. The photograph was taken on 15/10/14 and shows Capt Rose on the right]

16 Oct.

Breakfast about 5 a.m., standing by. Get a big mail in. Move off at 12-45, my Company to be rearguard Hear some Germans in a cave, but turns out to be only ‘cavé’ – a cellar, so move on. Darkness comes on, and the bad roads make marching most uncomfortable. About 1-30 reach Vlamertinghe. To great joy, go into billets. Waited on by a quaint fellow.

[Line of march 10 Oct Steenwerck to Vlamertinghe c 13 miles]
The diary ends at this date.
The Battalion War Diary records:

17 Oct – At Vlamertinghe – Remained in Billets and had clean up.

18 Oct – The Battalion were used to experiment in getting into Motor Buses going for an hours run, getting baggage and ammunition packed etc. One platoon gets into 2 buses and each Company got 10 buses leaving one spare. Five buses were required for all baggage, blankets, ammunition etc.

19 Oct – Battalion ordered to move at 2.30 p.m. by motor bus to Levantie, a road distance of 22 miles south, with the other three battalions in the brigade having left by route march at 1.30 p.m.. The Battalion’s “flotilla of buses did not get in till 8.45 p.m. owing to meeting heavy Ammunition Columns on road (narrow) and also being blocked by French Cavalry baggage at Estaires. The remainder of the Bde got in about 2.30 p.m. next day, Going in Busses (sic) not all ‘quite simple’.”.

20 Oct – Levantie – 8.30 a.m. The Battalion and the Royal Welsh Fusiliers sent out to entrench a position Fleurbalx – Fauquaint. 1.30 p.m. Brigade marched to Fromelles – Middlesex Regiment and Royal Welsh Fusiliers occupied the town with Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and Cameronians in reserve. Cameronians bivouaced in a field and had a very wet night.

21 Oct – Fromelles – 5 a.m. Stood to arms 7.05 a.m. marched to Bas Maisnil with Le Maisnil occupied by Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, Middlesex and Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Fromelles and Cameronians in reserve. 4 p.m. B Company (Capt H H Lee) sent to support Middlesex. 6 p.m. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders got badly shelled and they and the Middlesex had to retire. 9 p.m. Brigade fell back to La Boutillerie and took up a new position there, with the Cameronians on both flanks. Casualties, all of B Company, 1 killed, 13 wounded, 1 missing.

22 Oct – A position reconnoitered by Brigadier and Commanding Officers and the brigade entrenched at 5.30 a.m. Half of C Company under Capt Rose and half of D Company under Capt MacAllan went out as covering party and became engaged at once, the Germans allowing them to get to close range and then opening fire from the flank with machine guns and rifles. “They fell back a little then held on most splendidly.” 6 p.m. Enemy attacked but easily repulsed.

In this covering force action Captain Rose and 14 Other Ranks were killed. the two subalterns, Lts Graham and Dubin and 35 Other Ranks were wounded, with 18 Other Ranks missing. Capt MacAllan was initially reported as missing but was subsequently found to been taken prisoner of war and repatriated in 1917. Capt Rose was Mentioned in Dispatches and was the first officer of the 1st Cameronians to be killed in action in WW1.

[Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection  2008.142.052 - buses used for transport to and from Vlamertingh. The buses are recorded as being used in a subsequent move from Vlamertinghe to Levantie on 19 Oct 14]

[Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection 2008.142.052 – buses used for transport to and from Vlamertingh. The buses are recorded as being used in a subsequent move from Vlamertinghe to Levantie on 19 Oct 14]

Captain Rose War Diary 10-14 Oct 1914: Approach march to Ypres

10 Oct.

Still on train. Pass Boulogne.

Arrive at St Omer about 11-30. My company on fatigue, Germans quite near. March about 1 p.m. to Fort Rouge. Hear French are building positions in front. Go in motor to see French Colonel and explain, then back to Port Rouge. Hear we are to billet in Renescure. Go in car again to French Col., tell him, then go direct to Renescure. Billet my company in Mr Steven’s farm. Dine in chateau. Village crowded with refugees, but shops well stocked. Get some chocolate.

[Line of march 10 Oct Saint Omer to Renescure c 7 miles]

11 Oct.

Mattress on floor, fair night. Stand to arms at 5-30. Get knife and fork. Chateau picturesque with moat. Move off at 12-10, my Company to go to hold outposts at Le Nieppe. ‘B’ to rest of battalions Lynde between ??????. I find French building all the posts I am to hold. Have long talk with French Col. Beside ???? position well held, but trenches not deep enough. Get him to let me deepen it by saying men want exercise. Tell C.O. [Commanding Officer] and get permission to go into reserve. Have food in small house, including mushrooms, or what we thought were.

[Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection  2008.142.060 with inscription "Our billet at Renescure 14th century in parts"]

[Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection 2008.142.060 with inscription “Our billet at Renescure 14th century in parts”]

12 Oct.

Fair night, frost, kaross very wet. [From Capt Rose’s service in the South Africa – Kaross ~ Native South African skin mantle] Hurried orders during night. Little late starting, discover wrong road, and correct, just in time. March (B Co. as A. G.) [B Company as Advance Guard] via Hazebrouck. Misty, fix swords to resist possible attack. Sat in field. Move to Borrè, saw shelled houses, one old woman crying. Bivouac. Get kits, also mail and oilskins. Feed in deserted house, very clean, buy a blanket.

[Line of march 12 Oct Renescure via Hazebrouck to Borre c 38 miles]

13 Oct.

Move, with many halts to near Strazeele. We forms corps reserve. Rain. After dark go into very close billets in piggy farm, people very pleasant. Get bed.

[Line of march 13 Oct Borre to Strazeele c 2 miles]

14 Oct.

Rise at 2-50 for orders. Turn out, and stand by. With regard to behaviour of Germans, I have not come across many atrocities. They do seem to have done a great deal of malicious damage in deserted houses, and of course some very nasty things, but what can you expect when dealing with a low class in a hostile country. We have had to put down looting on a minor scale, even in our own army, who are so well treated, and in a friendly country. The Curé was shot. I could not find out on what grounds. A French cavalry officer was shot while on patrol, by some civilians on bicycles, presumably spies. A wounded German officer was left in the house I billeted in, and taken over by our ambulance. The Germans are terribly callous about their own wounded. Before the Guard’s Brigade the ground was covered with dead and wounded. The Germans refused all offers to have them removed. The stench was awful I am told.

About 12 mid-day we get orders that the brigade will attack Bailleul from Meteren. The Welsh and Argylls leading. March on, only to find Bailleul unoccupied. We make a triumphal march through the town, and hear that the Bavarians had been very drunk, and before retiring broke windows and did 20 atrocities. Just beyond we get a few shots fired at us. We are left of the 6th Division, with 4th on our left. The 6th seems to be held up, and we rather in the air. It has rained on and off since 11 a.m. I am inclined to feel depressed. Hear we are to move back into billets, so make a bet we won’t. After dark, move to a field N of B. My Company on duty, and sleeps in equipment, also furnish post. Then quite a good night, as warm, in spite of rain.

[Line of march 14 Oct Strazeele via Meteren to Balleul c 11 miles]

Captain Rose War Diary 5 -10 Oct 1914: Covert march for redeployment to the Western Front

5 Oct.

Rise 4-30. Out to dig 8-30. See several German aeros. We have a field gun sunk to fire, but no success. Lots of our aeros. And French about. Something going to happen. About 12 we get order to return to village, and hear we move at night. Lucky that parcels arrive in time, to put in kits, etc. Miss Snowden’s shirts etc. distributed.

Dinner 5-30. March off about 8. During night pass many lorries, full of French soldiers moving N.W.

[Line of march 5 Oct Septmonts to Saint Remy Blanzy c 9 miles]

6 Oct.

Arrive at St Remy [St Rémy-Blanzy] about 1-30 a.m., and are told to move into some woods nearby, so as to be hidden all day. Lie down about 2-15. Sleep a fair amount, but rather cold. Drizzle of rain. Belt breaks. First rain since we left last wood, over 14 days ago, but hope not much. We have no idea what we are going to do, but imagine we are to be thrown in somewhere. Germans have a new nasty surprise. Aeros. carry sheafs of thin steel arrows, which spread to a large cone as they drop and pierce anything below like butter.

Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection 2008.142.030 with caption "Company cooks preparing breakfasts when we were marching by night and hiding by day"

Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection 2008.142.030 with caption “Company cooks preparing breakfasts when we were marching by night and hiding by day”

Take over command of ‘C’ Company. Visit Money. Move out of wood 7 p.m. Flat country, and then very wooded, pretty full moon. Telegraph posts, and crosses a feature. Telegraph posts are made of reinforced concrete.

7 Oct.

Arrived at Vez, via Corcy and Villers Cotterêts about 4-30 a.m. Difficult wood to get into. Men very dirty. Get greatcoat; sleep a bit, but wake very cold, eat an apple. Pay a visit to chateau, in whose grounds we are, and have some tea, bread and jam with French engineer officers. Wash and shave. Proprietor is anxious about his trees.

Strength of my Company.
Present 261 + 16 277
Det. [detached] 1 + 1 2
Hospital, etc 25 25
Missing 3 3
Total 307

Visit old castle nearby. I say old, but very much restored. Dates from 14th Century, and evident that proprietor, by name Dru, made it his hobby to restore it to exactly what it was, using old material as far as possible. Beautiful view.

Get orders to move off by 6 p.m. Get mail at last moment. Small packet from mother. Glad I said small, as otherwise it would have been difficult to carry. Letter from H. saying registered parcel coming – registered evidently slower. Guns going all over march. Arrive about 11-15 p.m. at Béthisy St Pierre. My bit of wood is rather exposed.

[Line of march 6 – 7 Oct Saint Remy Blanzy to Bethisy St Pierre c 25 miles]

8 Oct.

Try to sleep, but after about 1½ hours wake up shivering, and stiff with rheumatism. Walk about, but find it very hard to get warm. Becher [Lieut Henry Owen Dabridgecourt Becher, Platoon Commander C Company, b 15 Aug 1889 – Killed in Action 15 Mar 1915] and Rooke [Lieut Charles Douglas Willoughby Rooke, Platoon Commander C Company] come up presently, same cause. We look about for wood, which is very scarce, and start a small fire. Eat some bully, and boil up some Oxo squares in the tin – quite nice. Sleep a little, with feet to fire, and better sheltered place. Shave, etc. Mail issued, and presents from Mrs Girdwood.

Move off about 2 p.m. First day march for over three weeks. Move to Pont Sainte Maxence, pass several interesting old houses. Bridge very completely blown down, but replaced by strong barge bridge. Told we would entrain, but orders altered several times. Bed down with Lee, and have a fair night round fire, but cold towards morning.

Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection 2008.142.033 with caption "French Cavalry on the march"

Photograph, © South Lanarkshire Council Museums Service, from first album in Capt Rose collection 2008.142.033 with caption “French Cavalry on the march”

9 Oct.

Rather rush leaving. Depart 7 a.m. Arrive Estrèes Saint Denis at 11-15 a.m. Have diners ?????, 5 officers, find that they are verminous, probably the result of the blanket carts. Much washing and hunting. One man found drunk. Leave about 5-30 p.m. 40 men in cattle trucks, 8 officers in a carriage. This is nice and warm, and we look on this as a night of luxury. My company is on duty, in case enemy is met have to keep on equipment. Pass Mondidier.

[Line of march 8 Oct Pont St Maxence to Estrees Saint Denis c 9 miles]