Herewith War Diary of 1st Bn. East Surrey Regt, from date of mobilization to 31st August inclusive in accordance with F.S.R. Part II, Sect. 140.
H.S TEW, Major, Comdg 1/2 Bn East Surrey Regt.
1st BATTALION, EAST SURREY REGIMENT.
This copy of the War Diary only covers the period from Mobilization to the arrival of the Battalion in France and their first encounter with the enemy.
August 1914 DUBLIN
4th 6 p.m. Order received to Mobilize and necessary action at once taken.
5th 1st Day of Mobilization.
Order received to embark on 9th inst. Programme for day completed.
6th 2nd Day of Mobilization.
402 Reservists arrived from Depot about 4p.m., posted to Crs, and instruction in fitting equipment and Fire Discipline at once begun. About half these men had left the Colours as long as 6 and 8 years, many having only done 3 years with the Colours. Programme for day completed.
7th 3rd Day of Mobilization.
242 Reservista arrived from Depot about 6 a.m. Most of these men having left the Colours more recently were better trained and as dar as possible replaced the 3 years men posted to Crs. the previous day. Training of Reservists continued throughout day and programme for day completed except harness for heavy draft horses and 1 R.A.M.C. orderlerly.
8th 4th Day of Mobilization.
50 Reservists arrived from Depot about 10a.m. These men had only recently left the Colours and with the inclusion of them enabled the Battn. to mobilize with but few 3 years men in the ranks. The 1st Re-inforcements however, which were formed today under Capt. J.K.T.Whish with 99 other ranks were chiefly composed of these men. Commdg. Officer's inspection of Battn. parading in 2 Train loads as per Irish Command Instructions for Embarkation. Colours brought on parade uncased, and speech made by Lieut.Colonel J.R. Longley, Comdg, who referring to the Battle Honours inscribed on these Colours said he felt sure that the good fighting spirit shown by those who gained these honours would animate those now about to fight for their country. Order for embarkation postponed till 13th inst. and completion of mobilisation reported to Brigadier.
9th 5th Day of Mobilization.
Platoon Musketry & Drill parades for Reservists.
Battn. paraded at 9.15 a.m. in Phoenix Park with 13th Infy Brigade for inspection by Br. Genl. C.J. Cuthbert C.B. Comdg, who complimented the Comdg. Officer on the appearance and steadiness of the men. During afternoon Reservists firing on 30 yds. range.
Battn.marched by Train loads about 10 miles. Many Reservists found to have badly fitting boots probably due to submission of incorrect returns to O.C.Records on transfer to Army Reserve. As far as possible these boots were changed. Reservists again firing on 30 yards Range. War Establishment of Officers reduced by 1 Captain and 2 Subs. who, together with 15 N.C.O.s had been sent to the Depotfor training new Units. The Officers were Captain G.O.Farrington, 2.Lts. W.H.Martin and G.H. Henson. Capt P.C. Wynter also proceeded to the Depot vice Capt J.P.Benson Reserve of Officers, taken on the Establishment of the Battalion.
Reservists under instruction. Battn ordered to pass O'Connell's Bridge on route to Northwall for embarkation at 6.10a.m. tomorrow.
About 5.a.m. instructions received putting back departure at least 3 hours. Battn finally reached Alexandra Basin about 11a.m. Commenced embarkation at 1p.m. but ship did not cast off finally till 6.30p.m.before which hour the ship S.S. Botanist could not be got ready as she only came in that morning. Destination unknown. Many Dublin friends turned out both in streets and at the Dock to give the Battn. a send off and placed on board a packet of fruit, cake & cigarettes for each man.
Physical Training by Crs. Cooking arrangements inadequate, no facilities for making boiling water. Weather fine but misty.
At Sea & HAVRE
Arrived. Berthed in Havre Docks about 12 noon and at once commenced disembarking; arrangements for same very good. After coffee and rest in shed alongside, marched off to Rest Camp No 1 at 4.15p.m. in soaking rain. The roads near Camp and the Camp itself soon became a quagmire compelling the transport to park some distance from the Camp. With broader wagon wheels this possibly would not have occurred.
Still raining early but cleared about mid-day. Day spent in drying and cleaning.
Left Camp 5.30a.m. reaching one of the Dock entraining Stations at 7.30a.m. thus allowing 4 hours for entraining. With this exception French entraining arrangements were excellent. Left Havre 11.39a.m. halted at Rouen, refreshments and railed on through Amiens, BUSIGNY to LE CATEAU arriving about 4a.m.
LA CATEAU TO LANDRECIES.
Began detraining at once, and marched off about 6a.m. through POMMEREUIL to LANDRECIES, about 8 miles. Battn billetted in small French Infantry Barrack. 2nd Army Hdqtrs were also here to which the 5th Division belonged. A Coy took up the Battn section of Outpost line. Whilst bathing in the Canal Pte Walters, C Coy, was drowned.
Route march by Crs. Battn staff busy opening, sorting and issuing maps. bathing parades during day.
The Battalion continued until it reached Mons Canal and on the 23rd August they experienced their first engagement with the enemy.