Poperinghe Talbot house & more


Contribution from Margaret

There is a wall plaque in Poperinghe which states in part  ---”to the Soldiers “Cafe de L’Esperance” (no 17) was known as “What Opes!”. The house next door (No 16) was “A La Poupee” . It was the favourite restaurant in Poperinghe, and was “Officers Only!”    “What ‘Opes!” may well have been the cafe where Tom developed his liking of Belgian coffee. Both buildings still stand with their names on the walls, and are part of the WW1 tourism route, and are not very far from Talbot house.

Talbot House had no distinction of rank, all were equally welcome to use the facilities. At a time when rank was all important, this was a great thought by Tubby Clayton to make “other ranks” feel the respect they deserved. 

As Tom mentioned, it was the start of a world-wide movement, known as Toc H. One of their distinctive emblems was a faint blue lamp over the entrance, which eventually led to the joke made about someone who may not have been too bright, that they were as dim as a Toc H Lamp.

There are several websites about Talbot House,  all worth reading.

The War In Italy

Tom was hesitant about the number of the squadron he was in. After checking the movements of the various squadrons that went to Italy, and the dates, it seems most likely that it was 34 Squadron. as they seemed to be the squadron that was bombed by mistake by the Austrian pilots on Boxing Day in retaliation for the raid on Christmas Day by Captain Barker. They were alongside 66 Squadron at Istrana, and Captain Barker was in 66 Squadron (see  “Christmas Day Raid” in Links).

According to the book “Offensive Patrol” by Norman Macmillan (see list of books in Links) the situation on the Montello was that by the 18th of March 1918, the Italians were now revitalised, and relieved the British troops on Montello. They were to be deployed in the mountainous front, and under Cavan, they were integrated with the Italian Army. This is the only reference I have yet found which would explain why Tom would have been attached to an Italian gun battery.


            Tom Herbert’s Story  - WW1 Begins  -   Work and Play  -  R.F.C. 1917  -  Barrack Life -

To The Front Line  -  Menin Road  - Entrained  -  France to Italy  -  Montello  -  Easter -

Monte Pau  -  Angelo  - Log Cabin  -  Vittorio Veneto  -  Bordighera  -  Blighty  -  Notes  -  Links