British private served with Essex Yeomanry in GB and on Western Front, 1914-1918
REEL 1: Background in Colchester, Essex, 1897-1914: description of volunteering, and question of age, 12/1914; family; education; story of enlistment with Essex Yeomanry, 1/1915; memory of pre-war apprenticeship in shipyard. Aspects of training with Essex Yeomanry in GB, 1914-1915: description of basic training; care of horses; previous experience with horses; memory of outbreak of war, 8/1914; memory of Zeppelin raids over Essex; comparison of civilian experience in First and Second World Wars; story of obtaining nickname 'Smiler'; description of journey to France and arrival in Le Havre, 1915. Recollections of operations with Essex Yeomanry on Western Front, 1915-1918: posted to Mons area, Belgium; description of cavalry operations in area from Mons to Verdun; description of dugouts in No Man's Land converted into trenches by Royal Engineers; role of snipers on both sides; description of operations during 2nd Battle of Loos, 9/1915.
REEL 2 Continues: further description of 2nd Battle of Loos; assessment of success of Battle and casualties; effects of gas attacks and continuing health problems; description of gas masks; further comments on role of snipers and story of death of friend Lenny; role of cavalry and effect on German morale; description of operations at Hill 60; question of rate of fire of machine gun; description of operations at Mametz Wood, Somme area, 7/1916; story of burying bodies in shell holes; question of morale and attitude to dead and wounded; memory of padre's prayer for the dead and question of spiritual comfort; description of rations and methods of cooking in trenches.
REEL 3 Continues: question of obtaining forage and supplies for horses; various memories of operations in Somme area including 1 July 1916; opinion of fighting qualities of Scottish troops; question of experience of war being limited to own area of battlefield; sings selection of songs popular with troops in various parts of the line; description of operations in Thiepval area, Somme; question of speed of Allied advance and reaction to end of war, 1918.
REEL 4 Continues: Aspects of period in Germany, 1918-1919: role guarding Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne; reason for signing on for further year with Army of Occupation and role as Officer's Groom; conditions in Germany and attitude to Germans. Further recollections of operations on Western Front, 1915-1918: memory of death of brother; communications with home; opinion of work of Salvation Army at front; story of filling water bottle with rum and rubbing on feet; personal hygiene and sanitary facilities; problem of lice; relations between officers and other ranks and question of unpopular officers being shot by men; story of giving to cigarettes to soldier undergoing Field Punishment No.1; attitude to conscientious objectors; question of home leave.
REEL 5 Continues: question of care of horses. Aspects of post-war life and employment: story of obtaining employment as groom to Captain Crossman; proficiency as rider and huntsman; reflections on war and attitude to loss of life; memory of visiting grave of friend Lenny killed in war at Bethune, France; medals. Various memories of service with Home Guard during Second World War.