21 November 1914; Saturday

Finished in good time. Went across to Roker with Joe and saw the guns. 3 big guns on the Cliff Park and trenches all the way along. The road stopped off from halfway down. Taking Bede Memorial1 down. Watched them unloading 6”shells at Ebb’s Point battery. Went round town at night with Willie Whittaker and Charlie. A lot of strange soldiers in town. Went to Trinity Preparation School. Mr Milburn not present.

  1. Bede Memorial: a sculpted stone cross, some 3 – 4m high, erected in early 20th century on Roker Cliff Park, between the east ends of Sidecliff Road and Rock Lodge Road; temporarily removed in WWII also. 

20 November 1914; Friday

At work as usual. Went up to the top of Chester Road and went for a march with the Athletes. Marched round Hendon and round the town and back to High Barnes School. A lot of people in town thought we were recruits. Came down to chapel and played ping pong.

A ship sunk off the entrance to stop the channel. Others were sunk within the next few days.

15 November 1914; Sunday

Missed chapel in the morning due to sleeping in too late. Wild stormy day and night. At Sunday School and chapel at night. Mr Chadwick asked me to arrange for the missionary men’s anniversary†. I had a bit trouble and finally arranged with Mr Fred to try Jack Robinson. Stayed to prayer meeting. Read a good bit and played a bit. Received news that Lord Roberts had died in France1. He had gone over to inspect the Indian troops and contracted a chill and died there through pneumonia. Mr Chadwick preached in the morning but Mr Kettle preached at night.

Terrific attack on Ypres abortive.

  1. Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, died of pneumonia at St Omer, France, on 14 November 1914 while visiting Indian troops. 

14 November 1914; Saturday

Finished about 2 o’clock. A remarkable amount of work. Belgian Flag Day. I purchased one in the office at work and Charlie and I were tannered† again up the town and I had to get other two. Walked up to the Workhouse Field and saw the athletes drilling. Everybody in the town wearing Belgian flags. Went to the lecture at Trinity at night, and afterwards went to Roker out with† Willie and Mr Bigg. The cars not working from Roker to the lower end of Roker Avenue. Fern. Motte called at the office. Bought a pair of new boots at the Store. The “Niger”1 a small gunboat had been sunk by a German submarine off Deal. No lives lost.

  1. HMS Niger: built as torpedo gunboat, converted to minesweeper; sunk by U-12. This was the first Allied casualty from submarines based in Belgian ports. 

13 November 1914; Friday

At work as usual. Hurried up to the High Barnes school with Joe to drill and we had to stay in and drill with the three† recruits. Left about 9.15. Called by the chapel and played a foursome at ping‐pong.

Germans capture Dixmude1  2, slight advance on Rhine side.

  1. Dixmude: Actually the town of Diksmuide in Belgium; the French spelling is Dixmude. If the Germans did capture Diksmuide as suggested by ALL, then they only held it  briefly. A contemporary newspaper report, dated 14th November, from the Evening Post in New Zealand notes that “a bayonet charge enabled the French marines to recapture the greater part of the town.” 

  2. See also Battle of the Yser, mentioned in the diary entry for 2 November