Topic: British Army
Paris Leave, 1918
Scarlet Fever; A Lifetime with Horses, John Cusack, MM, and Ivor Herbert, 1972
On December 27 , just as the regiment was going forward into Germany, the Squadron Leader said to me, 'Your leave has just come through.'
I was flabbergasted. 'What leave?'
He said, 'Your Paris leave, of course.'
I'd put in for this leave two years previously, when I was with the Royals and before I was married. I'd never heard of anyone getting Paris leave throughout the whole war! I went to the paymaster and asked, 'How about some money ?' The paymaster said he had no francs at all, but he said, 'There's the deposit on those beer kegs you bought in Liege. Take 'em back and use that 300 francs.' I'd had a new uniform made, beautifully tailored and I'd been issued with a new set of underwear. I set off like a gay dog for the railway station in company with the Canadian staff sergeant, with whom I had shared the night out with the two sisters. There were no timetables for the trains, and all were crowded. They arrived and left without anybody knowing where or when. I heard I should get some tickets, but as soon as I went off, the train left, bearing away my valuable underwear. We finally reached Paris at half-past two in the morning. We were taken into an office by the Military Police, told when we would be returning, given a package of prophylactics and a lecture about behaving ourselves. We were warned that our return from Paris might be delayed by American soldiers who had gone absent without leave, but had kept their rifles and who held up returning leave trains as they went slowly over broken bridges and robbed them of all the spirits on board.