Witley, May 13, 1917

Sunday    Weather good[.] Morning Divisional church parade[.] afternoon 14 mile ride[.] Eve Milford Church

The Divisional Church Parade is conducted by Colonel John Almond, who has been for three months the Director of the Canadian Chaplaincy Service, or, the Chaplain General Canadian Forces. (1) It must have been quite an occasion, thousands of men gathered in the open air (2) but it was his afternoon ride that Percy remembered most vividly.


17a Sunday ride best version

Percy is second from the right

In Ref to our ride we had on Sun afternoon May 13,17 Never have I seen the country look so beautiful as I did on that day. To ride through the country lanes on such a glorious afternoon shaded from the heat of the sun by the heavy over hanging foliage inspires one & makes one think & dream of higher & better things.  We started off about 1:30 pm  and rode out to within a mile from Hindhead or a place known as the “Devil’s punch bowl” a plateau about 850 ‘ above the sea level, here one can behold the country for miles around N.S.E. & W. Looking toward the east was a grand sight thousands of various shades of green intermingling dotted here & there with the blossoms of various fruit trees & of may Looking out over the country one can see the twisting white roads like the rivers on a map & the Devils punchbowlhedgerows beautified by the wild blossoms here everything was quiet & beautiful with the exception of natures music ‘the birds’ which sang splendid in this May afternoon We took a few snaps & returned back to camp just before 5 o’c The afternoon was well spent & I wouldn’t have missed it for pounds.  P.S. On the plateau a cross was erected in memory of three sailors who were murdered by Highwaymen MDCCCLI years ago this part of the country was known for its highway men its on the main Portsmouth road.


Not all the sights were of trees or hedgerows or points of historical interest: here is another snap from this  “glorious afternoon”:

18a Taken on first ride May 1917 crop

(1)  Crerar, Duff W. Almond, John MacPhersonDictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. 16. 2016.
(2) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 4 (May 1917): 2. May 13, 1917. Library and Archives of Canada.

The black-and-white snaps are from Percy’s large album.  The colour photo is ©Pete Smith; this and others of his photos of the Devil’s Punchbowl can be seen at PicturesofEngland.com.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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