17 October 1914; Saturday

Very slack at work. Finished at 1 o’clock. Walked up town in the afternoon with Father and then went to Porteous and Got last tooth out. Went up town again at night and saw them bring in some wounded. About 100 wounded arrive & more taken to the infirmary and Children’s Hospital. All the district military divisions† and ambulance men were engaged and a lot of soldiers and policemen kept back a large crowd who cheered loudly the first arrivals.

News last thing that 4 German destroyers had been sunk off the Dutch Coast1. Capt. Fox got his own back2.

  1. This was the Battle off Texel, a naval battle off the coast of the Dutch island of Texel where a British squadron consisting of one light cruiser and four destroyers on a routine patrol encountered the remnants of the German 7th Half Flotilla of torpedo boats, which was en route to the British coast on a mission to lay minefields. The British forces attacked and sank the entire German flotilla of four torpedo boats. 

  2. Captain Cecil Fox led the British squadron in HMS Undaunted

16 October 1914; Friday

Busy all day. Directors’ meeting. I had a few letters and managed them all right. Very late for dinner.

Got news that the “Hawke”1 had been sunk by a submarine off Scotland with heavy loss of life. Went up town at night to see Belgian wounded come in, but not arrived. Wrote to Ernie.

  1. HMS Hawke was an old cruiser (launched 1891), on patrol in the North Sea with sister ship Theseus, at which submarine U9 aimed a torpedo, which missed Theseus and hit Hawke; 524 out of 594 crew were lost. In 1911 Hawke had had the distinction of having her bow sheared off in a collision in the Solent with RMS Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic, slightly smaller but at that date still the largest liner afloat. 

15 October 1914; Thursday

Still slack at work. Went down to Mission at night. Mr Mathews’ last night. He spoke to us at the door. Mr Kidd, in seconding the vote of thanks, said he didn’t agree with all Mr Mathews had preached. Walked round with Joe afterwards. Mission Ended. Father & Mr Wanless went to the mill for a trial, but Robson & Dixon only talked and made †awful fuss† and said a trial was not necessary.

13 October 1914; Tuesday

Not much to do at work. Went down to the chapel at night. Pretty good meeting. A whole lot including Mr Mullins, Dick Crossley and Joe Speed “reconsecrated” themselves. Walked round with Joe and discussed Mr Mathews and his methods. Felt pretty dead† off and not inclined for any work.

Belgian Government removed to Havre.

12 October 1914; Monday

At work. Fairly busy. Stayed in at night except to go to the post with a parcel for the negro1 with picture papers in it and a letter to the insurance people confirming the interview. Father went to see Mr Wanless and showed him his hand.

Full news of Antwerp. Various opinions – certain amount of depression.

  1. If ‘the negro’ is a correct transcription, which it may not be, it would refer to one Isaac Abadu, somewhere in West Africa, who had written out of the blue to Charlie, possibly at the Post Office, and was his pen-­pal for a considerable time. Picture papers might well have been sent to him. Isaac remained a topic of conversation for many years. 

11 October 1914; Sunday

This is the final guest post from the diary of Leading Seaman Arthur Hawes.

At daybreak we found ourselves in very pretty & interesting country, but after some time this changed to a very different sort of scenery. We found ourselves passing through the most dreary expanse of waste land we had ever seen. For miles & miles on both sides of the train we saw nothing but an ugly flat stretch of dank grass with irrigation canals cut through it from time to time. Passing through this caused our spirits to droop considerably as it seemed as if we were getting out of all trace of civilisation. This lasted for some hours until we finally stopped at Groningen. On leaving the train we found the streets were lined by large crowds so our arrival had evidently been well advertised. During our short march from the station to the Infantry Barracks where we were to stay we were favourably impressed with the town. We arrived at the Barracks at about 1 o/c, & were then told that this was to be our home until the end of the war. The first thing that happened was that we were shown our rooms & then had our breakfast of bread & butter & coffee. The afternoon we spent settling down, & at 6 o/c we were given a good feed of pea soup & then we turned in for the night.

Thus ended our expedition to Antwerp. There are about 1200 of us here as far as we can judge, & for some time we knew nothing of the fate of all the others of our comrades in the Royal Naval Division who were at Antwerp with us. We have since learnt however that the ‘Second Brigade’ who were our reinforcements left Antwerp some time before we retired, & they safely returned to England. A good number also of the First Brigade got through all right, but there are about 1000 who are on the ‘Missing List’ so what happened to them we cannot say.

We are now living a healthy life here with a fair amount of drill & exercise, so that if by any chance we shall be able to get away from here1 before the war is over, and see active service again we shall be ready to answer the call.

Groningen, 23-11-14

  1. However, the interned personnel did not “get away from here”, and they spent the rest of the War interned in Holland.