9 October 1914; Friday

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

It was now Friday Oct 9th and after our hour’s rest we started off once more feeling somewhat refreshed, but getting rather hungry. Our next stop was about two hours later at a rather large village. Here we rested by the side of the road & received water & apples from the inhabitants. All this day we were marching side by side with hundreds of Belgian refugees. It was a sad sight to see all these people turned out of their homes. They had their belongings on carts but their furniture had to be left behind. The richer folk had horses or cows to pull their carts, but the majority had to pull them themselves. And so it was for miles & miles, little children patiently trudging along with their parents, & sometimes aged & infirm women & babies cramped up on the carts amongst the bundles of clothes &c. About mid-day we stopped at a butcher’s shop & each man received a small piece of meat. Most of us (including myself) ate half of it straight away raw & the other half we kept & presently when we stopped in a field for rest we made fires of twigs & leaves we roasted the meat by holding it on our bayonets in the flames. Our meal over we once more proceeded but had not gone more than two miles before we had to come to a sudden halt as our scouts met us with the news that a body of German cavalry were waiting to cut us off about half a mile further. We accordingly had to retrace our steps back to where we had last rested & from there take a new & longer way. After this we increased our pace considerably until we reached the town of St Gillies. We went to the station here and enquiries were made as to the train service. The Belgian authorities however refused to allow any trains to be run as they did not know but what they would be attacked & also there was the probability of the line being cut. Our Commander told us this & said that there was nothing for it now but to march five miles to the Dutch Frontier. So off we started and as it was now getting dark & it was pretty certain that there parties of Germans & Uhlans about on the look-out for us, it had to be a forced march. We none of us felt very fit for one then but once we started it seemed to put new life into us & we went along at a fine pace, & arrived safely on the borders of Holland. As there were then a lot of formalities to be gone through we all promptly lay down in the road & rested. There were several little inns & shops just here so we were able to buy some refreshments in the form of biscuits &c & drinks. We rested here until about 12 o/c & then we were told we could cross over into Holland but should have to give up our arms. This we did, crossed over the boundary & once more lay down in the road, this time however managing to get some straw to lie on. It was not long before we were all sound asleep.