The first mention of Cecil's service life is on a post card from a French soldier addressed to Mr H. Cecil Diss, Pte 5472, No 5 Company, Berkhamstead, Herts, England. Although this is in response to a post card he had recently received there is mention of a card received in August 1914. This suggests that Cecil and he were pen pals and possibly met before the war. [Post Card is in album] The card is headed
Des Armees De La Republique
Carte en Franche
And was sent by
G. Lenoir, Sapeur Colombophile (Pigeon) Quartier Aorsner ? Epinal, Vosges.
My dear friend
Thanks for the post card you sent me on August 19th. I have received it the day before yesterday. It went to Bernay "journeyed" here and there till it reached my relations who are, now, in the department of 'Von March', then my father sent it to me as soon as he got it. I think you are a now a soldier. My congratulations. If you will and if your military business (or occupations) give you a little time we will begin again to write one another and to exchange post cards or letters.
You will easily see that I cannot write English well and that this card is full of mistakes. You will forgive me I dare hope. Quo dicto or, if you will, this being said, I will ------- to you about my military business, and what happened of me since the beginning of war.
You know that on that very moment I was at Versailles. I sent you a post card from that town. You sent to me another one -- a picture of an English Bulldog. I received it -- thanks -- at the end of the month of August 1914. I asked to start to the front but I did not succeed. You know that when I was a soldier I was a "Colombophile" or "Pigeon Fancier". The chief told me when Colombophile shall be necessary we will -------- it to you. The company with which I had asked to start was at Soissons and I believe that the greater part of its soldiers were killed or --------down in the ----- month of December, I think so a few days after I was sent back home. I was greatly surprised six months after I was asked to go to Montfrelties where was my Regiment. Thence I came to Versailles where I was ill and lived a fortnight at the Military Hospital. Immediately after pigeon fanciers were asked and I was sent to Epinal. Here I am since three months but not in the firing line but 50 kilometres behind. It is very fascinated. Now and there -- far away in the distance the noise of guns to be heard, but I do not go in firing line perhaps it will come or happen.
Will tell you what I am doing in a next card. Best Friendship and yours Sincerely
G. Le Noir.
Inns of Court OTC 1916 There is a notice from Cecil in the album as follows: -
"When 4 Cadet Companies were about to be formed posting commissions were held up for some time. Companies were to be 100 strong & about 2000 were eligible. I was lucky to get into No.3 Company. We were told a top twenty were to be chosen after the first 14 days. Cecil was amongst the top 20 and was commissioned on 19th April 1916." The top 20 held a dinner at The Crown Hotel that night and the signed menu is in the album with the name of the different Regiment into which they were commissioned.
Second Lieutenant Territorial Force
8th (City of London) Battalion
The London Regiment
(Post Office Rifles)
George by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India etc.
To our Trusty and well beloved Horace Cecil Diss Greeting. We, reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and good Conduct, do by these Presents Constitute and Appoint you to be an Officer in Our Territorial Force from the Twenty second day of April 1916. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge your Duty as such in the Rank of Second Lieutenant or in such higher Rank as We may from time to time hereafter be pleased to promote or appoint you to of which a notification will be made in the London Gazette and you are at all times to exercise and well discipline in Arms both the inferior Officers and Men serving under you and use your best endeavours to keep them in good Order and Discipline. And We do hereby Command them to Obey you as their superior Officer and you to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as from time to time you shall receive from Us or any your superior Officer according to the Rules and Discipline of War in pursuance of the Trust hereby reposed in you.
Given at our Court at Saint James's the Nineteenth day of April 1916 in the Sixth Year of Our Reign
Horace Cecil Diss By His Majesty's Command
Second Lieutenant ---------------
Territorial Force ---------------
47th (London) Division Base Depot
Authority O.C. Reinforcements. Ter. 2008. 5.6.1916
2/Lieut. H.C. Diss, 8th London Regiment.
You will proceed tonight to join your unit in the 47th London Division, reporting at Camp Adjutant's Office, No 12 Camp, at 9.15 pm.
11 Camp Havre ---------?
5th June 1916 Colonel
47th London Div. Base Depot.
10th August 1916
My dear Ma Dad & Evie,
Two letters of the 6th recd (one from Aunt Alice) one enclosing a letter from Evie. Very pleased to get them all.
Please do not send any more lemonade powder as I have no use for it. Only water is allowed in our water bottles & we now get lime juice in the mess.
As we started dressing this morning it commenced raining & we wondered how our sleeping arrangements would stand the new conditions. It is now fine but doubtful looking.
Pleased to hear Ru is all right. No, have not heard from him yet. Aunt seems to have enjoyed her holiday in Barrow very much. How is "Trix" ? Does she "Really ought n 't to"? Evidently things are busy with Syd. What sort of Chime C. could it be ---- a g' father I suppose.
I see Furness Shares have jumped up. Very sorry your motor trips are suspended. Shortage of petrol will give the Cabs a chance again.
Yes, I am sure Evie will be brown. Fancy becoming an expert oars woman so soon. It must be nice at Newby Bridge now.
Have just seen yesterday's Times. The Italians have done very well. The Huns appears to be concentrating all their strength against us & thus weakening the other fronts.
Very much love
Yr Aff son Cis.
Post Office Stamp dated 19? September 1916 OHMS LONDON
To Diss 239 Abbey Road Barrow 06283
Regret to inform you 2 Lt. H.C. Diss 8th London admitted 24 Stationary Hospital Etaples September 18th Gunshot wounds right ear and neck severe permission to visit cannot be granted.
Territorial Record Office London
I think Cecil had joined as a Territorial whereas Rupert had joined the Regular Army, probably in 1914, on a 12 months contract.
17th September 1916 BEF
My dear Ma and Dad,
I am sure you will be pleased to hear from me. I expect the War Office will have told you I am wounded giving no further details.
I was cut by machine gun fire in right ear and neck, nothing to worry about -- not at all serious. I was wounded in no man's land but luckily had not got far when I was hit. I managed to roll back into trench & was then attended to by stretcher-bearer & placed in a dug out & I was there for about 20 hours.
You will realise how lucky I was when you know that hundreds of wounded were out in no man's land who couldn't get in & had no one to attend to them. I need hardly tell you it was HELL for everybody. The worst fighting of the War. Still going on, I can hear the guns.
I believe on the whole we have been very successful. I'm just going to have wounds dressed. will send wire when in England.
Much Love Cis
18th September 1916
24th General Hospital
C/o A.P.G. S11
My dear Ma & Dad
I am now at the above address after an eighteen-hour railway journey. Not that the distance was so far but on account of the congestion of traffic. I am quite cheerful so there is absolutely no reason to worry about me. Really I have had a very lucky escape. This is a jolly nice hospital & I have nothing to complain about. When I shall be sent to England I don't know but possibly in a day or so. I am afraid you will find it difficult to read this as the pencil is very faint. I was wounded in High Wood ( I think some of the papers call it Foureaux Wood) a few minutes past 7 am on the 15th just when our part of the show was starting.
It is raining very heavily at present and it is nice to feel oneself comfortably indoors. Hope you are all well.
Much Love Cis.
19th September 1916
24th General Hospital
C/o A.P.G. S11
My dear Ma Dad and Evie,
Just a line to let you know I am still alive and kicking though I may be here several days before coming over to England. I am writing so badly because I am lying on my back holding the paper in front of me with nothing but an envelope behind.
This is a great pleasure resort but of course I haven't seen anything of it myself. Heavy thunderstorm this afternoon. I was wounded on the 15th or 16th. Not sure which. Think 15th.
Hope you are all well.
Much Love Cis
Post Office Stamp dated 22nd September 1916 Sent 21st.
To Diss 239 Abbey Road, Barrow Making good progress Commandant
An aerial view of high wood can be found at the Imperial war museum site by followingthe following link:
Aerial photograph ofHigh Wood and Martinpuich
2006 was 90 th Anniversary of the tank, which was used for the first time
Hell Fire Corner
World War One Battlefields
High Wood at WW1 battlfields
Chronology of the Battle of theSomme
24th July 1917 Officers Quarters
My dear Ma & Dad & Evie,
I feel sure you will like to have a letter from me while I am still here. We came on Monday night by bus to barracks near & were accommodated & rationed. After the bus put us down we had about a 10 minutes walk to our destination -- just sufficiently long to let the Training Reserves in the vicinity realise what a lot they have to learn before approaching the King's Guard of the 8th London Reg. for smartness.!!
The weather first thing this morning looked doubtful but luckily it has turned out a lovely day. We mounted Guard at 10 am & we dismount at the same time tomorrow. The King and Queen etc. went out this morning so we had to turn out and present arms and again on their return. A few minutes ago the Duke of Connaught with others came down the drive so we had to turn out & give the Royal salute again.
About half and hour after I'd taken over an orderly arrived with the following invitation:- G. M. R.
The Master of the Household has received Their Majesties commands to invite Second Lieutenant H.C. Diss to dinner at the Royal Pavilion Aldershot on Tuesday the 24th July 1917 at 8.30 o'clock. The reply should be addressed to the Master of the Household. Dress Service Order.
So more later
25.7.17 5.40 am Have just finished inspecting the Guard at Reveille so will not try to sleep for the next few minutes. I was round the sentries twice during the night.
Re. Dining:- I walked up to the Royal Pavilion at 8.15 pm was met by footman who took my hat & gloves. I was then shown into the Drawing room, where two Colonels & a lady were waiting -- they immediately entered into conversation with me. Others arrived including persons of the Kings Household whom I couldn't get to know by name. I recognised the Duke of Connaught. Each new arrival came round and shook hands with everyone. A few minutes later the King, Queen and Princess Mary arrived each of whom shook hands & passed a few words. We then stood about and the Queen came over and spoke to me again. We were shown our places at the table but unfortunately I didn't get an opportunity of reading the names. There were only sixteen all told. The King, Queen, Princess Mary, Duke of Connaught General Ellison and Sir Derek Kepple (Master of Ceremonies) are the only ones I know by name.
Seating plan shown
Those I've marked officer i.e. don't know name, were in similar uniform (scarlet) to the King with 2 exceptions & might have been anybody. I kept up a conversation with those opposite me and on each side. The Marchioness said something nice about the way the sentries moved. The Major on my left (in Household Uniform) was awfully nice & told me the Duke of Connaught had commented on the smartness of the guard & was very pleased indeed in the way it turned out for him. A pipe band of the R.F.C. was playing selections during the meal. The latter by the way was very nice but got through at a miraculous pace considering the number of courses.
We then moved into the Drawing Room & had coffee & smoked: the King and Queen & Princess Mary moving just outside the French window near the band. The latter then stepped inside & asked us to come out. I stood about five feet to the right of the King between the D of C & the Col. The former (D of C) spoke to me for some time. Princess Mary was standing on the other side of the King.The Major who sat on my left at Dinner then came across & said the Princess would like to speak to me so I moved across and stood talking until the band played the National Anthem. The K, Q, &P then stepped inside and we followed. They each shook hands with us again & then retired. We soon followed & I returned to the Guard at 10.20 pm. I was perfectly comfortable the whole time & not the least degree nervous -- everybody was as nice as it was possible for them to be. Will tell you in more detail when I see you again. Much Love Yr. affec. son Cis
Aerial photograph of High Wood and Martinpuich 2006 is 90th Anniversary of the tank, which was used for the first time Reference sites: Hell Fire Corner World War One Battlefields High Wood at WW1 battlfields Chronology of the Battle of the Somme St. Mihiel Trip-Wire Aerial Photos of the Somme Battlefields