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Private Paul Rochat, French infantry

Writing from Paris, Paul Rochat, a French national, was a private in a French infantry regiment. Later in the way, he was given a commissioned rank. He kept a journal from which the following extracts were taken. Little else is known of him beyond having friends and acquaintances living in Quebec and Ontario.

11 September 1914, I am enjoying the experience of being in a city which was on the point of siege. The movement of troops, the trains of wounded and prisoners; the state of mind of the crowd. The German Taubes coming and going in their attempt to destroy the Eiffel tower are all interesting and exciting. I found my brother Maurice in an unexpected place. He is in an aeroplane corps. Think of his luck. He does scouting duty also on his motorcycle. He was in the battle last Wednesday. With another man he flew behind the German lines near Soissons and with two bombs blew up a tunnel through which a train was passing. The tunnel and train were destroyed and the Germans who tried to escape were shot down with the machine gun which arms the aeroplane. Two bullets hit the plane but it escaped. There is no doubt as to the success of the Allies. France has many fresh regiments which have not been to the front and England is daily brining more troops.

20 September 1914 Blois: I was glad to leave Paris where everything is so sad. You have no idea of the misery and poverty suffered by some. The train I came on was filled with reservists’ wives and children who came to try to see their husbands and fathers, only to find they could not see them. It is better to be far apart as there is no disillusion no disappointment.

27 Sept. We are in the country – 32 at a farm sleeping deep in the straw and cooking in the yard. As you can see in the papers everything is slow on the battlefield but that is because our commander does not want to waste lives. Many of the men are suffering from the long marches but I am in splendid condition.

1 Oct. We are leaving in the night for the trenches. All the camp is excited and very busy. My mind is so excited that I cannot classify my thoughts. The war is going to be a long one. We have fine weather though the nights are cold. I am quite accustomed to sleeping in the open.
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