Booth, Eustace Russell (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 9263
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 150, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British private served as motorcycle dispatch rider with No 323 Motor Transport Coy Army Service Corps on Western Front, 1914-1917

Content description

REEL 1: Background in London, GB and Canada, 1893-1914: family; education; memory of seeing army review; left school at 15; description of employment as engineering apprentice at Napier Motor Company, 1908-1912; hours and wages; story of emigration to Canada, 1912; employment as chauffeur; memories of voyage to Canada; accommodation; pay and cost of living; employment as wireman at Niagara Falls power station; recreational activities; reaction to outbreak of war, 4/1914; returned to GB on cargo ship; patriotism in Canada. REEL 2 Continues: problem of astigmatism and enlistment with Army Service Corps, 10/1914. Aspects of training with Army Service Corps in GB, 1914: basic training and selection as motor cycle dispatch rider; description of voyage to France. Recollections of operations as motorcycle dispatch rider with No 323 Motor Transport Coy Army Service Corps on Western Front, 1914-1917: landed at Boulogne; memory of seeing Lord Roberts; posted to Hazebrouck sector, Belgium. 10/1914; story of riding through Ypres; damage and dead horses; amusing story of rum; took messages to field batteries; attached to various HQs; covered area of Ypres Salient; problem of lice; billets in school; latrines; relations with local civilians; knowledge of French language; memories of estaminet; daily routine and duties as dispatch rider; collection and delivery of dispatches; number of miles traveled a day; description of terrain and condition of roads. REEL 3 Continues: effect of war on nerves; armed with revolver; accommodation; rations; amusing story of salted herrings; weather conditions; memory of observation balloons; types of motor cycles ridden; petrol supplies; maintenance and repairs; uniform; description of riding at night; accidents and injuries; bases and commanding officers; opinion of French troops; sentry duty; story of shell exploding, Easter 1915; use of Indian words by troops; recreational activities including Housey Housey and Crown and Anchor; rest periods; relation with civilian families; amusing story of sisters; home leave; attitude to war; opinion of medical services. REEL 4 Continues: description of duties with 2nd Army HQ collecting information on casualties; amusing story of rum; rum ration; mileage per day; duties digging trenches; buried by shell explosion; air activity; question of avoiding crossroads under shelling; attitude to Germans; description of terrain and climate in Ypres Salient; problem of lice; description of nervous breakdown and shellshock. Aspects of period in GB, 1917-1918: medical treatment and convalescence; medical board; opinion of VAD hospital; description of convalescent camp in Eastbourne. REEL 5 Continues: washing facilities; parade and issued with medicine; opinion of food; hospital uniform; attitude of civilians; posted to Army Service Corps Motor Transport Unit in London for six months Home Service; daily routine and duties as driver including transport of bodies and coffins during influenza epidemic; memories of Armistice celebrations in London; memories of Zeppelin raids; daily life in London; demobilised, 4/1919. Post-war life and employment.

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