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1918 - Edward Packe's diary of World War I

Grey background shows when Edward Packe was in Britain.

JANUARY 1918

Jan 1st. Flew in the morning but it turns dud. Christopher comes to tea.

Jan 2nd. Bunyan killed. Dine with Christopher.

Jan 3rd. Flew down to Berck sur Mer on an aerial Musketry Course. Dined in Berck.

Jan 4th. Did some aerial shooting. Dined in Etaples.

Jan 5th. More shooting. Dined at Paris Plage.

Jan 6th. More shooting. Dined at Verminus Cottage (our Billet).

Jan 7th. 8th. & 9th. Dined at Verminus Cottage.

[Extract from letter]

Jan 10th. Returned to the Sqn.

Jan 11th. Dud day.

Jan 12th. Did a low patrol.

Jan 13th. Did a patrol.

Jan 14th. Did a patrol.

button compass
This button unscrews to show a compass inside. As the diary entries show, with unreliable engines and little or no navigation aids, coming down behind enemy lines was a real risk.
button compass
Jan 15th. Did a patrol.

Jan 16th. Dud weather.

Jan 17th. Given a 'roving commission' to try and get the camouflaged two seaters.

Jan 18th. Did two patrols.

Jan 19th. Dud weather.

Jan 20th. Dud weather, went shooting.

Jan 21st. Did a patrol in the morning but the weather dud. Went up again in afternoon, clouds came up and covered the ground and the wind changed with the result that having attacked six Huns, thinking I was over our lines, I discovered on coming through the clouds in a hurry, that I was over Menin, which was too far over the lines for comfort; however, thanks to the clouds I eventually got away from my six Huns, belonged to Boelcke's lot. (This incident occurred on the 23rd.) Falmer had a forced landing.

Jan 22nd. Did a patrol.

Jan 23rd. Did a patrol.

Jan 24th. Did a patrol.

Jan 25th. Did a patrol and got attacked over Poelcapelle.

Jan 26th. No record.

Jan 27th & 28th. No entry.

[Extract from letter]

Jan 29th. Did two patrols.

Jan 30th. Dud in morning. Gave a lecture to senior Officers and N.C.O.s of the 8th. Div. Our C.O. (Russell) was supposed to give this lecture but promised to let me have his car to take me to Boulogne the next day, if I would give it. It was on the work of the R.F.C.

Jan 31st. Trouble with Strong (?). Go on leave with Bellamy (the Adjutant) in the C.O.'s car, See Christopher at Wizernes and then on to Boulogne. Catch the afternoon boat and reach the Triangle at Northwood at 11.15pm.

FEBRUARY 1918

Feb 1st. Had brekker in bed. Went up to London and shopped, lunch at Scotts. Down to Wickham Bishops by the evening train.

Feb 2nd. Got up late and looked round. Letter from Bob and rang her up. Wrote letters.

Feb 3rd. Went to Church twice and exercised Roy.

Feb 4th. Got up late. Exercised Roy. Letter from Bob, Went to Witham. Played Patience in the evening.

Feb 5th. Went up to London and met Bob. Went to Passport Office, lunch at Prince's where we met Jenkins and Longcroft. Saw When Knights Were Bold. Tea at Liverpool Street Hotel and down to Hertford Heath.

Feb 6th. Ragged in Schoolroom. Went to Hertford. After lunch had a long talk with Bob in Schoolroom. After tea dress up for dinner and afterwards do charades. Fill hot water bottles.

Feb 7th. Went to Church, talked and packed. Went to London then took Bob's luggage to Waterloo with Angel. Dodged the ticket inspector at the barrier and travelled with Bob to Southampton. Said goodbye on the Docks. Went back up to Waterloo.

Feb 8th. Caught early train to Northwood, talked to Pen and read. Lancelot comes in late. Wrote to Bob.

Feb 9th. Letter from Bob. Went up to London and met Sis. Had lunch at the Chinese Restaurant and go to The Thirteenth Chair. Dined at the Liverpool Street Hotel and back home.

Feb 10th. Went to Early Service. Played cricket with James and went for a walk. Wrote letters.

Feb 11th. Ragged about, went and saw Kitty Hunt's Home in the afternoon.

Feb 12th. Played cricket etc. and went to Pellys.

Feb 13th. Went to Church in the evening.

Feb 14th. Went to London on 9.18am., bought records, saw Grey Edwards. Pen comes for lunch and on to Seven Days Leave. Met Jenkins and John Russell. at the Piccadilly, dine at the Ritz, saw Yes Uncle, have supper at the Savoy. Slept at the Cavendish under Mrs. Lewis's care.

Feb 15th. Caught the 8am. train down to Folkestone where we have lunch. Landed at Boulogne, at about 5pm. Dined and slept at Hotel de Paris.

Feb 16th. Caught the 10.30am, train arriving at St Omer at 2pm. Lunch at Hotel du Commerce. Get back to the Sqn. about 6pm.

Feb 17th. Did two joy flips. Wrote letters, played Bridge.

Feb 18th. Did a patrol, weather came over dud. Went into Steenvoorde and saw the Diamond Troupe.

Feb 19th. Pretty dud, nothing doing,

Feb 20th. Started for early morning patrol but weather came dud. Wrote letters.

Feb 21st. Got up late, letter from Bob. Tested my prop. Went over to Bailleul and back. Did a patrol and played 'follow my leader'.

Feb 22nd. Got up late. Letter from Bob. Wrote letters.

Feb 23rd. A dud day. Under pressure from Christopher I went to pay an official call on Hunter Western (Hunter Bunter) commanding the 8th. Corps. The H.Q. was magnificent, gleaming with polished buttons and boots. When I told Hunter Western that I had been a private in the Somersets under his 11th. Brigade at Mons in 1914 he unbent and became charming. He insisted on my accompanying him in his car while he went to inspect something or other, bringing me back to tea in the 8th. Corps Mess. A pleasant but rather shattering experience particularly when he asked me what I thought of the speech he had made in the House of Commons and which I had not read. John Russell returns from leave. Played Bridge. Letter from Bob.

Feb 24th. Dud weather.

Feb 25th. Dud.

Feb 26th. Did the early morning patrol. Then got leave to 'test my guns over the sea at Dunkerque', this being interpreted meant flying down to Trouville to stunt over Claudia's Camp there and drop a message. Weather turns not too good and had a hell of a trip getting back. Dined with 70 Sqn.

This is the actual message that E.A.P. dropped, obviously kept as a fond memory.
Message pouch with two long cloth streamers Weight Envelope and message. Not very interesting contents, but it's the thought that counts!
message streamer message weight message envelope message contents

[Extract from letter]

Feb 27th. Dud. Went into St Omer and dined at Cassel.

Feb 28th. Went over to Bailleul with John Russell. Dined with Martin at Eeke.

MARCH 1918

March 1st. A duddish day. Flew over to 10 San. and had lunch with Ziegler who was at Haileybury. Played Bridge. Dined with 70 Sqn.

March 2nd. Dud. Played Bridge in the afternoon. Had a large dinner party.

March 3rd. Dud. Fired the S.E.5a.

March 4th. Pretty dud. Pearson's farewell party at Poperinghe, see the Fancies first,

March 5th. Flew over from Droglandt to Bailleul. Look at D.H.s at Reilly.

March 6th. Pretty dud, fed at the Officers' Club.

March 7th. Took old D.H.5 to Issue Sheds and brought back S.E.5a 9620. Had oysters at Officers' Club at Bailleul.

March 8th. Pretty dud, nothing doing. Fed at Cannon d'Or.

March 9th. Went for a short joy-ride. Went for a walk and saw pigeons. Dined with 19 Sqn.

March 10th. Went for a joy-ride. Very misty.

[Extract from letter]

March 11-13th. Nothing doing.

March 14th. Go up to Ploegsteert and have a look round. Go to a Boxing show at No. 7 Sqn. and dine there.

March 15th. Do a patrol.

March 16th. Do a patrol.

March 17th. Do a patrol.

March 18th. Letter from Bob. Do a patrol. Go to St Omer, have lunch at Cassel.

March 19th. Went up with Glentworth, Claydon and Tyrrell to try and get a Hun that haunted Poelcapelle but had no luck.

March 20th. Letter from Bob. Dud most of the day. Went up to Dunkerque. Shelled most of night. This was an unpleasant 21cm. Naval gun that that fired one shell every quarter of an hour, they made a crater you could put a motor bus in.

March 21st. One or two shells over, lunch with No 1 Sqn., tea with Kent.

March 22nd. Got up late, letter from Bob, wrote letters.

March 23rd. Too misty for flying. Bad news from down South, all leave stopped.

March 24th. Very misty but did a patrol. Practise slip catches, had a bath.

March 25th. Letter from Bob. Too dud for patrol, nothing doing.

March 26th. Did two patrols. Went and dug in the shell craters for nose fuses. News of a move.

March 27th. Left Bailleul, myself leading the Squadron, and flew down to Ferme de Bellevue with clouds under a thousand and poor visibility. A pretty dud place with no sheds or hangars. Managed to get a billet.

March 28th. Pretty dud but did a patrol, engine not too good.

March 29th. Pretty dud with a high wind, went off on a patrol to Amiens but engine gives out, have a forced landing and crash. Dine at Frevent.

March 30th. Went to St Andre to get new machines, came over dud. Got kit put in a new billet.

March 31st. Did a patrol and dropped my four 20lb. bombs on some earthworks.

APRIL 1918



Fun and Games
Fun and Games (Edward Packe's title)
April 1st. Quite an amusing patrol, got separated from my Squadron but dropped my bombs on some men East of Moreuil and shot up the wood, I then nearly got caught by eighteen Albatross who pursued me back until my Squadron appeared who were looking for me. The Albatross turned and fled for home followed by us. I had one in my sights and at close range and both my guns went dud. I was unable to clear the guns and the Hun got away. Glentworth frightened one Hun down and into a tree.

April 2nd. Did a patrol on my new aircraft but ran out of oil and just managed to get back to 56 Sqn. Saw Fielding, Johnson and Billinge.

April 3rd. Dud all day. Went for a walk with Glentworth.


April 4th. Dud all day. Erasmus Jethro (?) arrives. Wrote letters.

[Extract from letter]

April 5th. Dud all day. Blummers comes over to see me.

April 6th. Tested guns in morning and practised bomb dropping. Dud most of day.

April 7th. Did a patrol on my own, not much doing. Rained in the evening. Letter from Bob.

April 8th. Dud all day. Trenchard comes round. Wrote letters.

April 9th. Dud all day. Went for a run after tea.

April 10th. Had some of the incidence taken off the top plane of my S.E.5a and took it and tested it. Weather too dud for patrol.

April 11th. Dud in the morning, did a patrol in the afternoon, visibility bad.

April 12th. Did two patrols. Blummers comes over in an F.E.2b (night reconnaissance).

April 13th. Dud day.

April 14th. Dud day. April 15th. Dud all day.

April 16th. Dud all day. Go with John Russell in his car to Paris Plage.

April 17th. Dud day.

April 18th. Dud. 73 Sqn. come in after Mess.

April 19th. Dud. Went to Paris Plage in the evening.

April 20th. A dud day. A Dolphin pilot crashes.

April 21th. Engine goes dud in the air, managed to get to Serny and land; while there I saw an aircraft land downwind and crash, it was landed by the Observer, himself wounded, with a dead pilot.

April 22nd. Took my aircraft up for a test of the engine also of the altered rigging. Found her O.K. and taxied back to the hangar but while doing so young Trusler, a new and very self satisfied pilot, landed and ran into me, wrecking my machine. I saw him coming but hadn't enough speed to do anything about it. I was not pleased.

April 23th. Dud most of day.

April 24th. Dud all day. Shot in afternoon. Went to Hesdin.

April 25th. I give up keeping a diary.

[Extract from letter (June 28)]

[Extract from letter (August 14)]

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