Arrival in Marseilles harbour, and train trip to Le Harve
29th March 1916
(Château d'If) My first glimpse of France at 7am. My first impression of same, is that it's uncommonly like NZ particularly the South Island. All morning has been spent scanning the coast in hopes of picking up Marseilles, and just now 10.30am we got our first glimpse of that city. Tied up the wharf at 12am. Coming up the harbour (which is magnificent in the extreme), we passed the Tower from which the Count of Monte Cristo was thrown somewhere about the year 'umpteen'. Also passed a beautiful church perched away up on a hill. On the largest steeple of the church is a fine gilded statue which dazzles your eyes even though you're a few miles away. Disembarked at 4pm. Had dinner on the 'Nessian' and then walked to camp about 2 miles from the wharf. An absolute brute of a camp too. 2/5th under water. Chas, Faulkner and self managed to get up town for a few hours at night. Great beano and no questions.
30th March 1916
Up with the sparrows this morn. Gee, its cold here. Woke up at about 2 am and thought the North Pole had shifted a bit. Awaiting orders to entrain for some unknown spot. Randall joined up with us again. The Major, Chas, Raymond, and self cruised over to a Hotel and had cafe au lait. For dinner we got into a Restaurant which was unmistakably German. (Pirated). Exercised horses in the afternoon. No leave granted. Anyhow at 7 pm we called a muster and found that 100 men of our particular Bty had sealed out. No orders for shifting yet. Believe we go north from here, a 5-hours train journey via Paris. Learning to talk French like a Parrot.
31st March 1916
Three fifths of the Bty up before the beek. Chas and I went on leave at 3.30 pm. Struck some English people in a Restaurant and received an invitation to go out to their place tomorrow night for a ball. Great beano at night. Picked up Randall at 6.30 and also struck H. Hobbs and Parks. Had dinner at Coif' Maud. Glorious evening.
1st April 1916
Arrived in Camp at 06.30. Exercising most of the day. At night Chas and myself had our best night for quite 18 months. Visited the Home of Mr Beckell, Villa Virginia, No 8 Rue Marie Currie. Had a most enjoyable evening and met real English people there. Appreciated it incredibly. Danced and talked up till about 2.30 am and then got back to camp.
2nd April 1916
Sunday again, and most enjoyable. Quiet day in Camp. Chas and myself got leave and went to keep an appointment with one of the many English friends we met last evening. Met the party at 2 pm and went out to their place and played tennis all afternoon. Managed to strike form at once and gave a fairly good account of myself. Big beano at night. Ask us who 'Maude' is. Wouldn't mind a month here. Got home at 06.15
3rd April 1916
Randall, Chas and myself left camp at 10 am and visited friends in the City. Went out to lunch then got a motor launch and saw Marseilles from the water front. Got back to the wharf at 5 pm. Reported to camp and had dinner at 8. Another beano. Who's Puppett.
4 April 1916
Out exercising horses all morning. Went out into an outskirts of the City. The houses are real palaces and nearly every one has magnificent grounds. Slept during the afternoon. Went into the City at 8 pm in charge of a Patrol of 28 men and 4 NCOs. Had a great time. 'Supper' with A.P.M. Got back to camp at 12 pm. Great City believe me.
5th April 1916
On leave from 10 am with Chas. Went by train and visited No 7 Hangar Ordinance Depot. Met one of the chaps who was at Tennis last Sunday and went to afternoon tea with him. Dinner at Le Novelty Bar. Lost Chas? Very early to bed 11 pm The earliest since arriving in Marseilles.
6th April 1916
Raining like Mad. Got orders at 10.30. Packed and left Camp Fournier at 7 pm. Entrained at 9.30. Visited Maude, and had dinner at her place. Picked Randall up there then accompanied by Lula and Maude we travelled to the station. Left there at 11.15 pm. Up to our knees in mud. Awful sorry to leave.
7th April 1916
Our first stop at Orange after travelling all night. Stopped at Marcon at 2.15. This is a lovely trip. The Major, Chas and self in a very cosy sleeping car. Travelling through magnificent country. Stopped briefly and fed horses at night. Managed to supplement ourselves. Champagne etc. Slept like a log all night.
8th April 1916
Travelling all day. Gee, this France is beautiful. Passed through the Champagne District this afternoon. Chas being in charge of the commissariat Department procured drinkables and cooked pheasant. Passed Paris about 3.30 but did not see much of the city. Went round through the outskirts. This country is the most beautiful I've yet seen. On the whole it seems to be one big beautiful garden. Everywhere the troops either travelling or massing on the railway stations, or doing sentry go on roads, bridges or railways. Every station we've been through we've been cheered and farewells waved from everywhere. The French people seem to be very much attracted to our boys and they likewise to them. Expect to reach our destination (Le Havre) early tomorrow morning. Bitterly cold tonight. Early to bunk.
As a troop train carrying Australian soldiers from Marseilles to Le Havre makes a rest stop, the soldiers have disembarked to stretch their legs on the tracks beside the train, rest on the embankment (right) or pick wildflowers to decorate the train carriages.
9th April 1916
Arrived at Havre at 2 pm today. Cold, that's flattering it. Great station here. Must be about 400 yards long. Fell out and detrained horses and stores. Left the station at 5 am and walked 6 ½ miles to camp. No 2 (Sanvic). There are quite a number of batteries waiting here. Amongst them are several of my old chums from the 1st Bde. Working like a nigger all day. Getting lines down and picketing horses and a hundred and one other things which behove a Bty Orderly Officer. Chas and myself went into the City for dinner about 7 o'clock. Give me Marseilles before this City. Although this is rather pretty and well laid out; Marseilles for preference every time. Hunted all round the place in hopes of getting a bath but our luck must have been out. The City is full of troops representing all the Allies. At the Hotel where we dined were several Belgian and French officers in unlimited quantities.
10th April 1916
Randall and the Major at ordinance all day seeing to our guns, waggons and general equipment. Quite a pleasant day today. More like the South of France. Had a view of a French dirigible in flight. Came round over our lines. Randall, Chas, and self went into town tonight, after the same old complaints, a bath and dinner. Got the latter but again missed the former. Went to a music-hall later. Ask Chas? Cold as Charity tonight.
11th April 1916
Raining like mad. Went into ordinance this morning at 8.30 to draw our guns etc. Got back to camp at 1.30. Had to bring the Battery and B.A.C. out myself. Worked it out by algebra and a few other things. Got wet through of course. We have a great mess room here. In reality is a hay loft converted. Anyhow it can boast a stove, which make's up for a lot of things.
12th April 1916
BOO today. Been out in the rain all day. Busy equipping etc. Mud up to your knees. Still, I'd sooner that than sand. Packed up this afternoon. Believe we leave here within the next 36 hours. Hope so.