18th March 1919

We left early, and had another piercingly cold day, swept by the bitterest of North-east winds. I think we longed to get to Troyes more than we had done to any other place on our travels.

When we got to Troyes we had a good hunt to find the Anglo-British canteen, though it was big enough to be known far and wide – about the  biggest thing we had seen. It was quite thronged with blue-coated poilus, Americans, Africans and every kind of race – a really wonderful sight.

Miss Gibson was the head of it, a stout, fine girl, and I sat next to a Miss Officer. I liked very much another worker whose name I did not get. They were all very nice to us. It must have been a rather difficult post, very isolated for them, connected with the French army but not altogether appreciated by them, with very hard work to do.

Here again, Edis’ sympathetic nature comes through. Several times in the journal she mentions her appreciation of people’s time and resources as she and the rest of the part race through the various camps, canteens and depots on their tour. It would be really interesting to hear some first hand opinions of Edis from this trip. I wonder if any of the people she met wrote home about the lady photographer who came through their camp, or mentioned her in their own diaries?

At Sommesous we found a canteen at the station to which only colour could do justice. It was a very large dark building, quite thronged with soldiers of every nationality, the blue of France predominating, and  fine-looking set of men they were. The darkness was now so great that I could only take them by flashlight, which I did, from either end of the building. The poilus were splendid at posing as I wanted them, smoking, reading, pouring out their wine, or raising their bowl. I was very nervous of the flashlight, but all went well.

Poilus at Sommesous

Porters at the French Red Cross Canteen, Sommesous (IWM).

A fine set of posers! (I especially like the chap to the far left.)

Tomorrow is a big day so let’s leave Edis there. We move on through Epitry, Sermaise, Bettancourt and Bar-le-Duc in the morning.


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