18 May 1918; Saturday

Woke up in the train about 7 o’clock after tolerably decent night. Splendid scenery, the best I have seen, up the Marne valley. Arrived at Châlons1 about midday and detrained. Passed through the town. People looked very nice. Marched 8 miles in the fearfully hot sun and arrived at [space left, presumably intending to fill name in later]2 about 5. A lot of the chaps drunk at night. Walked out with Billy Truman and heard some nightingales singing.

  1. Châlons: apparently Châlons-en-Champagne; map square G9 on Michelin Regional map 515 (Champagne-Ardenne). This train journey of more than a day had taken ALL from near Esquelbecq (A) to Châlons-en-Champagne (B). 

  2. It is frustrating not to have even an indecipherable name (though ALL left a space of 1.8cm, enough for a hyphenated name). The next indubitable place-name is Chambrecy, on 29 May, some 18km NW of Épernay, itself some 30km WNW of, so one might assume that the 8-mile march on 18 May was in that direction. However the place to which ALL and Harvey walked the next evening can be credibly transcribed as ‘Sarry’, which is about 6km down the road SE from Châlons to Vitry-le-François; if they were walking from the place reached on 18 May, 8 miles/13km from Châlons station, that would be a long evening walk, but they were presumably now at ‘the village’ where the ‘small hospital’ was located. No place-name has been found to fit the shorthand word represented by the asterisk in the entry of 19 May, and as it is prefixed with a ‘the’, perhaps it is more likely to be a common noun than a place-name. The outline could be “Wesleyans”, or “wasteland/s”; the former does not seem possible, the latter does not suggest an obviously suitable site for a hospital.