3rd November 1916
Arthur finally crosses the channel – having slept on the floor for most of the journey. He then faces a long wait while the enlisted men disembark at Le Havre, and their boat carries on up the river to Rouen. After a wash, shave and dinner at the Grand Hotel D’Angleterre, Arthur is now feeling a little more like his old self and reflects on the days passage: “Coming up river was glorious. The sun was out most of the time & the woods were a glory to behold … The more beautiful the woods & orchards & the river were, the more they reminded me of you”.
Arthur to Dollie
Grand Hotel D’Angleterre, Rouen, 8.30pm
… At last dear we have reached as far as this. It has been a long & rather a hungry journey: but now I have washed, shaved & fed & am feeling more myself though awfully lonely.
We reported last night at 6.45 and embarked immediately. It was not long before we started and, once on our way we came straight across. The “Mothersill” was a great success. I had a cold supper as we came down the Solent; then turned in on the floor. I had found my blanket again, so that I wasn’t too uncomfortable. I managed to sleep until we were just off Havre about half-past 2: we got in about 3.15 but we didn’t disembark. This morning when it grew light we found that we were only one of 7 leave boats that had crossed. I managed to get some Bovril & a couple of biscuits by way of breakfast. (That reminds me dear, you’ll send me out some “Oxo” cubes, won’t you, please. If you have any doubt or difficulty I think Daisy knows – they are packed in tins of 6 or a dozen. Thanks ever so much, dear.)
The men were then disembarked, but all the officers & some men who were coming over as a draft, were collected on board one of the leave ships. We waited on her in harbour until twenty past eleven. The pilot then came aboard & we sailed up river here, where we arrived somewhere about 6. We reported to the AMLO ; then to the RTO, who told us to come back in the morning. So we tried the Hotel des Postes: it was full, so we came on here. It is not bad but nothing to “shout about”. I had a wash & a shave : then we had dinner. I’ve missed you terribly & it is worse than ever to-night.
Coming up river was glorious. The sun was out most of the time & the woods were a glory to behold … The more beautiful the woods & orchards & the river were, the more they reminded me of you…