The Sassoon Connection
On July 7th 1916, Sassoon went to Amiens, he wrote in his diary, “On Saturday (July 7) I went to Amiens with Greaves (Captain E. J. Greaves, Company Commander), Reeves, Cotterill and Julian Dadd, and we lunched in style at Godbert and had a jolly day in fine weather.” In the Sherston Trilogy Greaves was Captain Barton, Cotterill was Joe Dottrell and Julian Dadd was Julian Durley.
On March 21st 1917 he recorded that he was “off to Amiens for a night” with a fellow officer. “A good dinner, a bath and a bed are something to be thankful for in this dirty place.” It was a journey of seventeen miles, bumping along in an Army Service Corps lorry. On March 23rd he described sitting outside the Gare du Nord station at Amiens at 5 o’clock, in a hospital ambulance, waiting for a lift to Corbie where another lorry would take him back to camp.
On March 26th he again travelled to Amiens on a Service Corps lorry. “After dinner (alone, thank heaven),” he wrote, [I] “walked round the Cathedral for half an hour in the rain...and after a bath and quiet lunch, returned to the place whence I came, per lorry and feet...I would gladly die to guard Amiens Cathedal from destruction.”
On March 30th, from the Hotel Belmont, Amiens, he wrote, “Tonight I’ve been guzzling at the Godbert Restaurant with a Captain of the Dublin Fusiliers and a captain of the Cameronians, and three other Welsh Fusiliers (including Greaves again); and the bill was 230 francs; and we drank Veuve Cliquot; and the others have gone into the dark city to look for harlots; and I’m alone in my room; looking out of a balconied window at the town, with few lights, and the moon and silver drifts of cloud going eastward; the railway station looming romantic as old Baghdad. And next week we march away ‘to hazards whence no tears can win us,’” Although he could remember little of what happened that night, he did make a record of what he had consumed. Not including the wine he would have no doubt tasted, he downed:2 John Collins, 1 Japanese ditto, 1 Oyster Cocktail, 1 sherry and Bitters, Pommard Eclatante, trois verres, 1 Benedictine.