Monday, 2 April 2007

Chapter 22: Leave in England January 1917


Letter to sister, Maud Lade:
Helstone Manor

Jan 31st 1917

Dear Maud,
I wrote to Mother last week - the day after I arrived from France and told her about my journey across. The trip across (sic) was not very pleasant but you more than make up for that once you get here.
I spent three days in London and had a look at all the sights - St Paul's Westminster Abbey, the tower of London and all the rest - and then came along to this place where I only intended to stay a couple of days, but have been nearly a week now. I promised the son of these people I would come and see them should I ever be in England and I am glad I did for they are very nice and have given me a splendid time. The day I came here my mates went to Scotland, and I was to join them there in a couple of days, but this is too good to leave especially as you loose such a lot of time travelling about.
Camelford is quite a small village on the River Camel only a few miles from the sea, and the place where I am, Helston Manor, is just what you would imagine an old manor to be. The family (at home) consists of a grown up son, a boy going to school, and two girls, who have been taking me to see all the sights about.
On Sunday last one of the girls who is the organist took me to a little church about two miles from here, and I don’t think you could imagine anything so old fashioned as it is. The church, the people and the vicar, who by the way is about eighty-four - all seemed to be part of some by-gone age.
Monday we did the "block" in Camelford, Tuesday we went all around the country side, which is very nice even now. It must be lovely in the summer. And yesterday (Wed) we went to see some old slate quarries not far away. I don't know what is on today - at present it looks very like another fall of snow - but to-morrow I return to London, as I go back to France on Friday (2nd Feb)
The day before I left France we had just come out of action and expected to go to another part of the line, either somewhere near Thiepeval, or else right away from the Somme altogether, most likely to Armentiers, so we might take a day or two to find the battery again.
I was sorry to hear of your illness but hope you are better again now.
I have been keeping very well and have put on a lot of weight since coming here. I am somewhere about twelve stone now.
The war still continues but I hope we shall see the end this year. Germany will take some crushing, but I believe we are now in a position to do it. The coming summer will tell anyway.
Must close with love to all

[I made contact with the Priest In Charge at Camelford, and he advises me that from the information contained in the letter the chuch mentioned is most likely 14th century St Adwena, in the parish of Advent, just outside Camelford.]

St Adwena church near Camelford

From The Anzacs (Patsy Adam-Smith, 1991), p 271ff:

The following was read to every soldier going from France to England on leave, circa 1917:

‘Complaints are still being received that Australian soldiers on leave in England do not salute officers in the streets. This is, of course, not only contrary to orders, but gives a very bad impression, as people in England judge the smartness and soldierly bearing of any troops very greatly by their manners in the streets; and in this matter of saluting is the most obvious and noticeable test that comes within their daily observation. . .

‘Officers will be instructed , when in England, to take the name of any man failing to salute, and report
him to A.I.F. Headquarters. Any man so reported will lose the balance of his leave, and be at once returned to duty. It must be impressed on all officers that it is their duty to report these cases. The reputation of the A.I.F. is suffering more than those serving in France understand or appreciate, through the slackness of certain men in this respect, and all must do their utmost to get this set right.

‘This order will be read out by the Officer in charge of leave men, to all parties before entraining.”

In reply, the men sang:

He went up to London and straight up he strode
To Army headquarters on Horseferry Road,
To see all the bludgers who dodge all the strafe
By getting soft jobs on the headquarters staff.

Dinky-di, dinky-di
By getting soft jobs on the headquarters staff

The lousy lance corporal said ‘pardon me please’
‘You’ve mud on your tunic and blood on your sleeve
You look so disgraceful that people will laugh’
Said that lousy lance corporal on headquarters staff.

The digger just shot him a murderous glance
And said, ‘we’re just back from the shambles in France
Where whizzbangs are whining and bullets are flying
And brave men are dying for bastards like you.’

‘We’re shelled on the left and we’re shelled on the right
We’re bombed all the day and we’re bombed all the night
And if something don’t happen and that mighty soon
There’ll be nobody left in the bloody platoon.’

Dinky-di, dinky-di
There’ll be nobody left in the bloody platoon

The story got to the ears of Lord Gort
Who gave the whole matter a great deal of thought
And awarded the digger a V.C. with bars
For giving that corporal a kick up the arse!

Dinky-di, Dinky-di,
For giving that corporal a kick up the arse!


“Their time expired, they tramped to Victoria Station about which Richard Smith wrote, ‘The trains are lined up every night, one for the nobs, six or seven for us.’ The ‘nobs’, senior officers, travelled first class, had dining cars and bar service; the troops were packed ten to a small third-class compartment. ‘You can’t get near a lavatory,’ Richard writes, and perhaps his realism and comparison with the comfort and attention given to the senior officers reminds us that these latter knew no more of the tragedy and the horror of the front line than did the civilians of Mayfair, Montreal, Kings Cross or Yarrawonga. Their isolation made for complete segregation.” (p 279)

Photo of Horseferry Road, London , where AIF headquaters were located. September 1918. [AWM D00077]


Information about

THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. JULITTA, LANTEGLOS-by CAMELFORD.A BRIEF HISTORY & GUIDELike that. of most Cornish churches, the dedication of Lanteglos-by-Camelfordbelongs to the "Age of Saints {the Fifth to Ninth centuries A. D.). SaintJulitta, a man, was one of the twenty-four off-springs of a fourth centuryWelsh Saint, King Brechan, all of whom were confessors, or martyrs in Devon,or Cornwall. For example, John of St. Ives, Endelient of St. Endellion, Menfreof St. Minver,Tethe of St. Teath, Yse of St. Issey, Morweena of Morwenstow and the ParishChurch of Advent (St. Adwenna). Typically, the church was originally anOratory founded near a holy well, St. Julitta's Well.The church is about a mile from Camelford in the Deanery of Trigg Minor and inthe Diocese of Truro and the Province of Canterbury. Originally, it was in theManor of Helstone, a village to the west of Camelford and at the time of theNorman Conquest under the patronage of Robert of Mortain, Earl of Cornwall,whose manor was said to have been on Michaelstow Beacon. The present patron ofthe living is Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, who thus appointsthe Rector.Architecturally, Lanteglos Church was originally a cruciform Norman structure,but of this the only traces are in the north walls 6f the chancel and nave andthe east and west walls of the transept. The tower is fifteenth century.Battlemented and Pinnacled, three storeys and 70 feet high and contains 6bells. The roof is typically "wagon vaulted" with carved bosses. The font isfifteenth century, octagonal of Pentewan stone. The Lady Chapel was set up in1969. A perpendicular arcade supporting four central arches separates the navefrom the south aisle. The windows in the north are lancets and the rest haveperpendicular tracery. The east window has five lights with flamboyant traceryin the head. There is a similar one at Advent Church and they may have beenthe product of a Flemish work-man. In the upper lights of the aisle windows,there is a fifteenth century glass depicting Christ and His disciples.The Organ comments are crossed out.Of the Monuments, 'the oldest is a Saxon Cross outside the south wall, withthe inscription "Aelseth and Genereth wrought this family pillar for Aelwyne'ssouls and for themselves". There are various monuments to the Phillips andCarpenter families, notably the Revd. Win. Phillips (d. 1794). There are alsomonuments to Robert Blake (d. 1810), owner of the Delabole quarries and theRevd. John Wills (d. 1654), Rector of the Parish, and Mary Worthyvale (d.1638). Among the communion plate a chalice is dated 1576 and a silver giltalms basin bearing the Phillips Arms, and the inscription "The gift of CharlesPhillips, M.P. for Camel ford."


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