6 October 1914; Tuesday

This is a guest post from the diary of Leading Seaman Arthur Hawes.

About 9 o/c got in our train & travelled all night in darkness, as we did not know but what our train would be attacked. However this was not so and at 6 o/c in the morning of October 6th we arrived at Antwerp. Here we had a terrific reception from the people, who showered cigarettes, cigars and all kinds of food on us. We were very grateful for these & also for the coffee, Bovril & tea which they had ready for us at the station. We marched from the station to a small village about five miles outside the town. Here we were billeted in an empty house, where a dinner was given us by the Belgian soldiers. (This was Wilrijk.) We had not been here more than two hours though when we once more had to fall in & had more ammunition served out to us, together with identification discs. In a short stirring speech the Commodore told us that the Germans were at Lierre (we could hear that by the gun fire) & that we were to go at once to the trenches to help the Belgians who were pretty tired. We marched off but found it was impossible, owing to the heavy shell fire the Germans were pouring in, to take up our intended position. Accordingly we turned our steps in another direction & halted in a new line of trenches. We did not stay here more than about an hour however, as we had once more to be on the move. This time we had a long march, passing on our way evidences of the German shells in burning houses & others all in ruins. At night we halted in a country lane, had some food (bully beef1, tea & biscuits) & then turned in on some straw which we took from a farm near by. We were now just outside Lierre.

  1. “Bully Beef”: more commonly known as corned beef, a staple of troops in WW1 and all later conflicts until quite recently