Friday (Cambrai) (1 November 1918)

In a huge building at Cambrai.  In the train almost all night and a rough shop it was, endeavouring to doze on the hard, bumpy and filthy floor of one of H.M.’s man-trucks.

Befriended a kilted Jock.  Next morning after a rather gruelling mach and much delay, entrained for the front.

Don’t feel at all like a War Horse frothing for the fray.

Chinese Coolies cleaning up here – they annoy me – the problem of what is to become of their countless millions of souls, past, present and to come, in the hereafter, is a tiresome one.

6-30p.m. (Caudrey). We were all (some 10,000 of us) marched back to the chemin-de-fer and then drafted off to our respective army corps.  Told that our camp was only 3 kilos away, we set off blithely enough under our own burdens.  The 3 kilos stretched out into 6, then into 9 and finally into about 15, so at 5.p.m. we at last found our weary selves at Caudry and at last got a feed.

A small party of us found a tiled-floored outbuilding with a man-trap in the form of a loom with thousands of sharp corner spikes on it, on which I’ve left about a yard of skin off my fingers.  The room had a stove, in which we have a roaring fire going.  News of the capitulation of Turkey and Armistice to Austria is placarded in the town and the period of “apres la guerre” seems to be drawing nearer.

Many magnificently decorated buildings in Cambrai are wrecked.

IWM (Q 3314) Main square in Cambrai, showing damaged buildings and the town hall, 23 October 1918

[Image: View of the main square in Cambrai, showing damaged buildings and the town hall, 23 October 1918. IWM (Q 3314)]

IWM (Q 78789) Canadian or British troops in the main square of ruined Cambrai, 10 Nov 1918

[Image: Group of Canadian or British troops in the main square of ruined Cambrai, 10 November 1918. IWM (Q 78789)]

One thought on “Friday (Cambrai) (1 November 1918)”

  1. The destruction in the towns in WWI was similar to the destruction from bombing in WWII, John. It’s very sobering.

    Continuing thanks. Your grandfather had a great way with words.

    Best

    Angela

    Like

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