een dagboek bij.
Sleep is broken, however, the ground is soft, some horses draw their pegs and stampede, there is a painful wailing from a poor fellow, who has had his face crushed in, others are injured. Order is restored, and I sleep a little. About 4-30 we get up, to stand to arms. We are to relieve the outposts, and then act as rear guard. All bridges over canal have been blown up, excepting the one we cross to take up our position. We march out over a mile, to a flank, but nothing happens.
We get news that our efforts at Le Cateau have been successful. The French caught some Germans in the flank, it was our trying role to draw them 60 miles South, and then hold them. So we go on our long march rejoicing. No need to blow up the bridge. We tell inhabitants the good news as we pass, After breakfast we march on slowly. A long halt in the middle of the day, unfortunately not near water. I take turns at riding a stray horse, the most sore-footed of the men are lifted on the carts. Several of the officers have stray mounts, which they ride in turn. As the day closes in it gets very stuffy, and we cannot prevent the men from packing up 10 abreast. At last we reach Noyon, 9-30 p.m., but alas! It is another nightmare. The administrative arrangements seem to be of the worst. We wait, and wait. Columns of Artillery, infantry and cavalry, all mixed up in the same road, gradually crowd forward with interminable halts. The wretched man on foot has but a poor chance. Newman who has a wonderful nose for drink disappears for some minutes and then returns with two bottle of wine.
At last we get to our bivouac (Pontoise), and are rejoiced to find tea and soup awaiting us, and best of all, Wood [Hon Lieut George Wood, Quartermaster], who was thought to be killed, has turned up with the bulk of our kits. Last - but not least - we have a mail. Lee very happy.
A day of rest, but as the day goes on we hear continual firing. In Noyon the town is being evacuated, and the bridge at Pont L'Eveque prepared for demolition. Lee and I go in to Noyon but can get nothing. As we pass the station we see a captured German officer, who seemed very calm. Il a encore l'air d'un trognon! ["He looked totally dejected"] He is under an English guard, which is as well for him. As the afternoon progresses, a feeling of strain seems to envelop everyone. What is happening? Why have the guns stopped? Oppressive heat. Our long retreat is having an effect on our nerves. Rumours of all sorts begin to float about. We realise the rottenness of the administrative arrangements. We hear we are to entrench, then about 6-30 p.m. the order comes to move, but only about five miles to go into billets. I am sent on to arrange the billets at L'Aigle. Get there about 9 to find 1,000 odd men are billeted in squalid village of fifty inhabitants. I do what I can, however, the regiment does not turn up. Apparently the roads are hopelessly congested. The A & S H eventually do, but no sign of ours.