Saturday 29th August: Bassoles-Aulers
After a few hours’ sleep under a tree we were up and had breakfast. We then had a letter from General French* read out to us thanking everybody for the way they had done their duty. He also told in the letter about the Great Charge by the Scotch Greys and 12th Lancers the day before. They charged the enemy cavalry three times. That was where the 5 of us were sent back for Captain Wilson.
We had a good rest here today, we did not leave till 8pm then we advanced about 3 miles nearer the enemy and lay down in a field next to the South Wales Borderers and slept there for the night.
*Sir John French, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force.
Sunday 30th August: Laon/ Brancourt-en-Laonnois
We were roused at 3am and started to retire south again and by mid-day we were doing a forced march under a scorching sun with the enemy hard at our heels. Our ambulances are full of men who have fallen out.
We passed through a town today I think it was Laon they called it. There was a large monastery near it and the town seemed to be fortified. The people of the monastery treated us well, giving us wine, chocolate and bread but we did not halt long there, only to put our wounded into a train.
Moved on again, the sun is scorching; we had another halt at a farm in the afternoon but could not get any water to make tea. Then on we went again but at last we billeted for the night in a field beside a village called Brancourt-en-Laonnois. We went off to sleep tired out, without any tea.
Monday 31st August: Brancourt-en-Laonnois/ Soissons/ Missy-aux-Bois
We were up and marched off by 5am after some tea and biscuits, marched on all day, passed through the town of Soissons.
The bridges were all mined ready to be blown up but some shops were open as if nothing were on. The refugees are almost blocking the roads and at times everything seems to get congested but always manages to straighten out again and on we go.
The roads about here are terrible steep and we have to give the horses a hand up the hills with the wagons. We reached our billet in the afternoon where we met our Tent Section in a field. This place is called Missy-aux-Bois. We received our first pay here in French money-5 francs.
We are beginning to understand that we are retiring as we are now only 62 miles off Paris. We were not long lying down on a sheaf of straw and rolling ourselves in our coats, after we had some tea, as we might be on the move again before long.