November 10th 1914

10th November 1914   Tuesday

Hauled out of my bivvy about 5 am. And sent on cycle to find our cookers (These had to be found before we got any breakfast of course and no one knew their exact spot so I had to set to work and find them. Rode through the town of Ypres, Cloth Halles and main street nearly all in ruins. At this time Huns shelling the town with 17 inch shells every day. Before I had got out of the main street and nearly at the corner of the Post Office square, a huge shell landed about 500 yards behind me in neighbourhood of Cloth Halles and the detonation was frightful. Was hit by the falling debris after the explosion and smothered in dust from the masonry etc. In my haste to get away rode into a tangle of loose telegraph wires outside the Bureau de Postes and came headlong over my bars, but not seriously hurt. Had some nasty bruises and abrasions about the head and face but this was nothing – It took me some minutes to disentangle my bike from the wire, it was so hopelessly mixed up in it. During this process another shell landed in the market square (Cloth Halles) and nearly scared the wits out of me. The debris again falling all round me. I eventually got my bike clear and rode off as hard as I could out of Ypres. Had cycled some miles before I found the cookers , between Vlamertinghe and Ypres stuck away in a farmyard. Had a splendid breakfast of bacon and eggs and plenty of good tea with milk and sugar in it too Oh ! wasn’t it delicious. Only those who have undergone privations can imagine how welcome the cup that cheers is on these occasions. Our cookers were not long before they were ready and I was called to direct them, was supposed to act as guide to them, but directed them on through Ypres and continued my breakfast. I knew I should catch them up as they only travelled at walking pace After breakfast had a chat to some French wireless men for about ten minutes Then started off to catch up to the cookers. Caught them up in Ypres, but rode on past them. The noise of the carts was too deafening and I wanted to hear the shells coming. Waited for them near the Menin Gate- A fire had started in the Market Square since I first passed (going for the cookers) and the smell of human bodies burning in the buildings was too awful for words. – In the square I noticed the mangled bodies of two children and a woman lying on the pavement but dare not stop to do anything lest I should share the same fate. One of our men had a narrow escape trying to put them into a house, a shell burst in the Square and he narrowly escaped with his life – He joined us at the double – all ghastly white and told us of his narrow escape – Got back to battalion about 9,30 pm., half of the boys are still asleep, but soon woke up when they heard of breakfast. During the morning made a bit of covering over our sleeping quarters of the previous night and were issued with different gifts- mufflers, socks etc. and also each man given a blanket. The gift of the Women of the Empire League- First we had received. The blankets were of all the colours of the rainbow. We looked like squaws all wrapped up in them. Weather bitterly cold ( a heavy frost during the night) after dinner had a sleep for a couple of hours. After tea sent off for an officers kit. Another wild goose chase. Went on foot this time and a good job too. Tried some short cuts across fields, hedges and ditches and got hung up on barbed wire fence near the railway . Set free by some of the life guards resting nearby – Got back to our resting place about 9 pm. Too fed up and tired out for anything and before many minutes was in dreamland.

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