19th November 1916 Sunday
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A significant day in young Douglas Page’s life and war. His contract had come to an end. It was almost a year since he departed on the train from Edinburgh on December 2nd 1915 and made the rough crossing to Le Havre aboard the Huanchaco and eventually to the Western Front. Having already survived numerous close calls with shells exploding just behind him at Richebourg church, the devastation of his Division the 38th Welsh at the Somme, the recent dud “archie” falling beside him, plus various “wind-up” occasions when he could so easily have been blown to pieces. All of these would have been enough to make the toughest of men feel that a chance to escape the horrors of the front would be welcome relief. He had done his stint and served his King, country and comrades well and he could have easily felt justified in being one of the lucky ones able to return home to tell his amazing tale.
“On November 19th I left Proven for ‘Blighty’ on the expiry of my year’s service. I was sorry to leave but wanted to get home to see how everything was going with Mother and the others. I got a train at Poperinghe at 2pm. I got to Boulogne about 7 o’clock, going via Hazebroucke, St Omer and Calais. I stayed at the ‘Hotel Metropole’ overnight and left France at 7am next day….”
Today there is still a hotel in Boulogne bearing the name Hotel Metropole but the original didn’t survive, Boulogne being heavily bombed in both World Wars.
Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here