1914 - 1921 HUGE ARCHIVE OF ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARIES  AND LETTERS  DETAILING THE WORLD WAR I SERVICE, LIFE AND TIMES HANDWRITTEN BY A CAPTAIN OF THE ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS AND LATER DEPUTY OF THE QUARTER MASTER GENERAL1159
On offer is a sensational, archive of handwritten diaries, essays, ephemera and letters relating to the service in World War I of Captain James Martyn Eaves, [R.]A.S.C. [(Royal) Army Service Corps] and later the D.A.Q.M.G. [Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General] of the 19th [Western] Division covering just prior to his service and that service from 1914 - 1921 at the Western Front and in post-war Occupation Europe. This is an absolutely remarkable archive of depth and breadth. Captain Eaves has left an amazing achievement of primary content regarding 'The Great War'. The diaries are contained in five  large folio sized softcover notebooks, in a lovely hand, making for hundreds of thousands of words. Eaves, impeccably precise and detail oriented uses the books fully using one end for the diary entries and then he has turned the book over and used the other end for letter copies, essays, news clippings, service notes, lists, orders of the day etc., much like a scrapbook. Beginning with the first book dated August 5th through September 29th 1914. With great charm Eaves creates his own title page: "A WAR DIARY Begun at Plymouth at the opening of THE GERMAN WAR August 5 1914 God Save the King Delenda est Carthago". Along with the super daily commentary on the War news of this clearly intellectual man are a number of writings: essays, observations, ruminations, stories and copies of letters. Eaves will write an essay regarding 'The Restaurant Girl' who while acknowledging class differences extols her virtues of good work ethic and attractiveness. He discusses 'Cynicism' and cynics. He mind ranges far and wide and he is a rather deep thinker. The folio book also has some ephemera littered throughout. Interestingly Eaves had written notes or the beginning of an essay on a piece of personal stationary of Mr. Irving H. Wheatcroft a noted Canadian railroad builder. The second diary which runs from embarkation July 1915 through February 1916 has a group photo of the diarist and his unit tipped-in and several retained Special Orders of the Day, King's Christmas Message 1915, hand-drawn plan of "Disposal of Billets at the Wattez Farm, 156 Co. ASC Scale 1 inch=25 yds." etc., pasted-in at rear. The third book dates from March 1916 through February 1918. The fourth book is dated February 1918 through May 1919. The fifth and final diary [June 1919-Sept. 1922] also has several ephemeral pieces pasted-in at end and some clippings relating to the employment of ex-officers, a sad report of a different Lieutenant-Colonel relegated in his old job to beat Constable and considered a waste of valuable proven talent. Included is Eaves' own advertisement that he placed when looking for a position. Together with 196 letters from France, all but a handful in the original censor stamped envelopes; also some 25 letters written 1914-15 by Capt. Eaves in training and about 60 letters sent to him in France by his fiancé, 1915-17. A substantial volume of diaries together with letters written during Eaves' first year and a half on the Western Front, make for a rare collection, the whole providing a very complete record of his life as an ASC officer, initially with 156 Company attached to 57th Brigade, later on with 19th Div. ASC HQ and various divisional and Corps staff jobs, latterly DAQMG of his division. Daily entries are typically contain news of the day, much on his brother officers as well as concerns about his health [Eaves seems to have often been rather unwell but stuck to his job throughout the war]. Collectors and historians of the time and era will find a treasure trove of intimate detail of the unrelenting daily work of this supply and staff officer. Besides the work of the War we find that during July 1916 he and other officers frequently went to Amiens for shopping trips and sumptuous luncheons, but at other times he was working at midnight. His experiences attached to various units in the 19th Division whilst a "staff learner" in the spring of 1917 provides an insight into this experience which included attachment to various units to get an understanding of the work of each. Eaves' letters add another dimension to the diaries, including descriptions of conditions at the front, observing infantry attacks on the Somme etc. Here are some snippets that assuredly give an idea of the value of this record of life in an essential role in support of the fighting troops at the front. Diary 17/7/15: "Entrained at Tidworth 12 am weather fine. Some altercation with Railway Transport Officer: smoothed over by Daubeny. To Southampton 1.0 taken onto shed at once. Embarked horses on big transport up big runway on steep slope. Selves to go on Marguerite apparently. Tried for boat with horses but no go. Went into S'hamton and bought apples etc. Monotonous work waiting was very fed up. Embarked 7.30 on Marguerite paddle steamer 1802 souls aboard. Passed Netley and had awful supper in fly infested saloon. To bed in stateroom with subs. Glad to get waterproof boots off. Slept well half dressed. Annoyed at being separated from horses." Next day 156 Co. landed at Havre and was reunited with its horses. 21/7/15: "Rose 7.30 breakfast of poached eggs, Many callers at bivouac. ADMS and horse doctor and later on Twyford and Daubeny. Compliment on horses. Sent Knowles as Brigade Orderly. Rode in aft. to Refilling Point and on to Brig. HQ to arrange re supply and baggage wagons... Interpreter arrives, Revel. Not much use on horseback. Had good supper off errant cock by Lynes at Le Ferme Haute in even. All walked to hill top to see flashes of guns..." 22/7/15: "To Brig. HQ early... Jack wishes me to stay for Captain's Conference so lunched. Rotten lunch of bully beef... Conference not very interesting... Stayed for tea, also vile..." 2/8/15: "Hellish uncomfortable in bivouac. Wind, dust, sun and flapping. Up late. Chased every half hour for returns by O.R. [Orderly Room]. Conference at Train HQ... Shall go up with Convoy. After wretched morning and lunch changed... to billets in upper Meurillon. Nice Belgian farmer. Gives room for office... Farewell supply field!..." 3/8/15: "...Went down at 2 to Train HQ to meet OC Meerut Division. Sent up in car to Neuf Berquin... Inspected church at N.B. Terribly shelled. Machine guns in tower which simply riddled. Statue headless also tomb exposed... Cottages of village scarred with shrapnel... Got billets and met Capt. Campbell of Indian Army. Good tea and chat... In car again and to Estaires... Signs of German occupation everywhere..." 25/9/15 [Battle of Loos]: "Attack starts. Rumour at 8 La Bassee taken. Indians gone clear thru' line. Got all ready. No orders therefore no real ground gained yet... rain. At 2 to refilling point. News not so good 58th [Bde., 19th Div.] driven back leaving wounded on field. 9th Division done well at Hulluch s. of La Bassee... Rows of wounded coming down from action... No orders so no advance for our Brigade... More casualties than supposed. 57th at Gorre. Sent off supply sections at 3. Rather depressing on whole with dripping rain..." 26/9/15: "...Meerut reported fallen back. Col. Shepperd of Wilts reported killed... In aft. after good steak lunch worked on road... Bombardment starts again. Furious battle by La Bassee... No move by Brigade so far. Ambulances choking roads I hear, also artillery. Pathetic scene at Barge Ambulances..." 2/10/15: "Conference at 10 am of OCs. Walked down. Only discussion of marks upon wagons. Nonsense. walked back, disgusted..." 26/6/16 [Somme front, Eaves now Adjt., 19th Div. ASC]: "'W' Day. Hot in office in morning... In even. orders to move at once, 3 hours notice. Pulled out in stream of rain with Jocelyn and convoy. Bad road discipline otherwise good march. Had to strafe Underwood. Guns on horizon very fine sight. Arrived D.18 at 4.15 very tired. Got tents up. No sleep." 27/6/16: "Colonel over at 8 says 'good work.' Settled down in tents, men in bivouacs... Went up at 5 to see bombardment, very interesting and fine sight. German trenches clearly visible... Terrific bombardment..." 1/7/16 [letter]: "...my head is aching from cannonade, a dirty pall of smoke hangs over the country past the ridge and the lorries back from there are running very slowly and gently because of their contents... Strenuous days for an Adj..." 3/7/16 [letter]: "...A message to say they expected a gas attack on the front tonight... so I have at once posted sentries, and every man including the Adj. is sleeping with his gas helmet by his pillow... I've seen some real war... up on the ridge with the Col. yesterday and watched the -th Brigade attacking in a storm of shells, saw the men running down the slope amid the vicious shrapnel and gas shells that sent up clouds of dense black and greenish yellow smoke. To the right on the top of a hill was the skeleton of the village of O[villers], the stump of the church tower white and hideously jagged, every tree of the forest that surrounded it stripped by fire and shell of foliage... Major Wedgewood is killed. I lunched with him three days ago - the head of the Josiah Wedgewood pottery people... None of the dead are recovered in that hell pit yet and the rain beats steadily down on their stiffening bodies..." 4/7/16: "...Division congratulated for work by Army Commander. 6th Wilts come out of trenches. Ovillers still holds out..." 8/7/16: "...Rode into Albert with Gosselin [interpreter] a.m. in great heat to find dump for 3 Brigades..." 1/8/16: "Frightful heat. Much ado about move and Operation Orders a.m... Packed up at noon... Moving to Bailleul I hear now..." 3/8/16: "Trekked early from Paulainville poor night on floor... Misty at 1st halt... held up by 56th Bde. in village and subsequently 2 hours halt... squeezed past... Major of 56th very hostile. Marched like hell for an hour getting well ahead into Flixecourt behind 58th Bde... good billet had bath and shaved etc. Very tired. Good to be in billet again." 14/8/16: "Cooler. Col. to R.P. [Refilling Point]. Strafe re R.P. increases in velocity... Estimate re R.P. shelters absolute madness..." 15/8/16: "...Visited Kemmel, much smashed about. Battle line 2000 yards away. Notices etc. galore..." 28/8/16: "Col. to see RFA at Kemmel. Self to Canada Corner and CRE. Loaded up joists etc..." 29/8/16: "Col. ill thank goodness. Took 12 o'clock show..." 30/8/16: "Hopeless rain all day without cessation. Col. up late in morn. and sulky as a dog..." Back to the Ancre: 13/10/16: "... Put up for DAAandQMG!!!" 1/11/16: "...Warned for railhead by O.C. set off 12.15 hot riding in steel helmet... Went past Authuille, badly knocked about..." 19/11/16: "Hear 8th Staffs nearly all captured! Burial of Lt. Col. Torrey 7th Lancs who was sent to 'ginger them up' and the betting was 100 to 1 among his own officers that he would be shot at once!..." Staff learner Jan-Mar. 1917, 16/1/17: "Orders! to be attached to 56th Bde. for fortnight... Down to see Toby Long GOC 56th Bde. at 6..." 22/1/17: "Thawed somewhat. Packed 8.30-9. Unanswerable wires come in. Lorry with kits away 10.30... got in eventually 2.30 sent off 62nd officers. Good Mess at Bayencourt room with Hassall. General Ballard still in possession. Not a good Brigadier. Lines left badly, also slovenly and stupid individual. Staff hopelessly incompetent..." 23/1/17: "...In afternoon in biting cold out round transport lines with Hassall, via Sailly home. General Glasgow 58th Bde. in to tea. Nice fellow great contrast to Ballard... No one slept last night I hear. Cold simply intense. No mail... Much heavy crumping chiefly at the chateau up the road." 28/1/17: "Cold, but not so bad. Down late a.m. Office a.m... At 12.30 news of death of General [Toby Long] Killed at 11.30 by shell in trench in Hebuterne... Went round transport in afternoon - shells there too. Man in SWBs frozen to death last night and four deaths in 62nd Div..." 26/2/17 [whilst attached to a bn. of the Cheshire Regt.]: "...a.m. round Lewis guns, which fired, also saw bayonet fighting under good instructor... Germans are retiring, even from Bapaume it is said, blowing up dugouts in Gommecourt Wood. Even. - a very boring conference on tomorrow's work. Quit at 11. Only four days more of these amateurs thank heaven." 28/2/17: "...Arranged BHQ and to La Signy on foot thence up line to Touvent Farm... over old line and No Man's Land. Many grinning corpses. Wonderful sights. Got to La Louviere... sniping going on. Walked up to support trenches. Sniper very active! Back slowly finding many corpses..." 1/3/17: "...To Serre found Dymond there... 7th Div. Road awful. Nothing left in or of Serre. Shelling bad with 5.9s. was badly scared. Went across to old part to Star Wood. Sat down to lunch. Death shell comes. Orderly shell shocked. Sat in aid post. On by trenches to Walnut Trench, round to Box Wood and just into Pusieux - shelled by both sides..." 6/6/17 [IX Corps Staff, battle of Messines]: "Day before attack. Sent off passes for all the big wigs to view battle from Kemmel. Went out to White Chateau with Gibson to see into water trouble. Shell in lake rather disturbing..." 7/6/17: "Woke at 3.10 by extraordinary explosion like earthquake. That battle! Interesting day... Apparently successful show. Great work in office. Casualty reports very small." 1/8/17 [3rd Ypres]: "Hopeless rain. Our usual luck! Bad time at R.P. Matches and sugar wet. Much displeasure. S.O.s [Supply Officers] meeting. All S.O.s to be up at 5.30 now on rainy mornings! Rum issue again in afternoon. Worked all afternoon, also on water supply... Rain all day. Guns quite silent. Got very wet this day but have got gumboots thank heaven..." 22/11/17: "Fine a.m. turning to wet. Train very late, wagons off p.m... Issued rum and camouflaged helmet which VG. 190 send 2 corpses down in ration wagon!!" 21/3/18 [Spring Offensive]: "Awakened 4.30 by hellish bombardment, small but nasty shells coming frequently into the wood at our back... At 11 o'clock 12 inch begins firing at extreme end of valley, subsequently shortening range, getting nearer stables. Shifted horses to other side of valley. Not before 3 horses killed and 3 men wounded..." 23/3/18: "...orders to move before 12 to new R.P. on Rocquignoy-Le Transloy Road. Packed up amid signs and sounds of furious battle and moved... No orders from Division... Boche now in Metz, Fins, Vaulx and making towards Sapignies. All our Tank guns lost it appears though casualties to enemy of course terrific... Two 9.2s firing from Rouse's dump much to his concern! OC Battery asks Clayden if he knows where Fritz is!! ...Only road out hopelessly blocked... Wonder what Haig thinks of it all. At 5.30 orders to retire on Tilloy... Cavalry reported in Haplincourt Wood - hope its not true! A 60-pdr. just unlimbered in our entrance about to let off. Shall be on the road all night. No reinforcements behind the 19th Div. they say... Traffic absolutely blocked... On the road at 9.30 in full moonlight - the hun MGs seeming very close. Tons of stores, guns etc on road dumped also sleeping soldiers... THQ empty. Sent on miles ahead to bare country on Miraumont Road..." 24/3/18: "...Summoned by OC whom not pleased at sluggish arrival. Pulled out at 10.45 to Achiet-le-Petit and on to camp at Bucquoy in very hot sun... Rumours today of Paris being shelled by long range gun... Boche in Combles and outskirts of Le Transloy. Green line apparently held. Staff officer from G.H.Q. satisfied!" 25/3/18: "Rose 7.30. Packed up quickly and left Bucquoy about 9.30 a.m... Pulled out to rendevous near Essarts as location given was occupied by gun positions already in action. Waited all day for orders. Hear Boche is in Albert. Hundreds of guns and wagons going north... civilian scenes pathetic packing up again. Passed old Somme line. Orders at Sailly when just parked to proceed to Henu, so on in night to Bayencourt and Henu where camped in open field..." 26/3/18: "Rose 7.30. Good breakfast... beginning to pack up when shouts of 'Clear Out. Clear Out' by motor despatch rider. Rumour of cavalry in next village. Saw cavalry scouting next ridge and the road a torrent of motors and galloping wagons. Marshalled wagons hastily and joined in... On to Mondicourt where took stock. All supply details missing also various artificers and one limber.." And so the confusion of the March Retreat continues: 19th Div. moves to Flanders in time for more of the same with the coming of the Lys Offensive then to the Chemin des Dames; not heavily engaged in the Final Advance although still in front line throughout. 11/11/18: "Cold and gloomy. Heard of acceptance of terms by Germany at 10.50 a.m. Not much celebration. Men pleased also inhabitants, who present more apples and milk... Visited No. 1 Mess and violently upset the nerves of Mr Ross 2nd Lt. Walked round to No. 4 feeling rather flat. I suppose the show is over..." Three-and-a-half years of continuous active service seem to have taken their toll but Eaves was in no hurry to demobilize: he was posted to the Army of Occupation in Bonn in March 1918 where his wife [they had married when he was on leave in 1917] joined him. He finally returned to civilian life in April 1921 and found difficulty in obtaining employment, resorting to secretarial courses to fit himself for administrative work of some sort. Eaves who was born in 1881 and after a conventional education - Exeter Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford - seems to have lived an unconventional life. He served with the Royal 1st Devon Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War [and wore the ribbon of the QSA Medal], spent a couple of years as a rancher in Canada, a few years as a schoolmaster, three as an "Ecclesiastical wood carver" and one as a translator at the Public Record Office. The war gave him seven years steady pay and responsibility and he was clearly efficient [he was Mentioned in Despatches in 1918], but he emerged from military service at a bad time to find a new 'billet': the wrong side of 40 [although in his appeal for work he claimed to be 36!], with no profession and, having stayed on in Germany as long as possible he came home to a very difficult job market, at a disadvantage to the men who had returned before.] Almost half a millon words! One book is nibbled by a mouse without loss but overall VG.
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