Yearly Archives: 2014

3 December 1914; Thursday

Got total out at work and it is right. Went down to Endeavour after reading a bit. Came round by myself. Bonny night but rather wild. Read a bit.

The King spent a few days at the front about this time1.

  1. George V visited the Western Front for the first time in December 1914 and again on several later occasions. On one such visit in 1915 he was thrown from his horse and seriously injured. 

2 December 1914; Wednesday

Busy at work. Got books well up to date. Went down to drill at night. Billy Wayman joined our lot. First time I have spoken to him since he left the Paper Works1. Had a real soldier showing us how to go about it. Called in at Grandmother’s last thing. She is not so well.

De Wet2 captured.

  1. Billy Wayman had evidently left the Paper Works on 31 October

  2. Christiaan Rudolf de Wet was a Boer general and rebel leader in the Maritz Rebellion of 1914 in which men who supported the recreation of a Boer South African Republic rose up against the government of the Union of South Africa.  

28 November 1914; Saturday

Worked until 3.30. Had dinner hour1  work, George and I. Went to the Training Centre at night and Joe went with me. Afterwards went for walk with Willie Whittaker and went up the Durham Road. Bought paper and it had in rumour of 2 German ships being sunk in the Baltic. The Herta & Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse , battle ship. [Following words encircled: -­ ] Not true2.

  1. Could “hour” be “ower”, = “over [at]”? It would be the only bit of Sunderland dialect in the Diary. 

  2. It is not known which paper published this rumour, but ALL was clearly right to discount it. The sinking of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse had happened (though not in the Baltic) on 26 August and was noted by ALL in his diary entry for the following day. There is no record of any ship named Herta at this time although there was an SMS Hertha which survived the war and was scrapped in 1920. 

27 November 1914; Friday

Got day book written up to date. Stayed in at night and wrote a long letter to Ernie. Went out last thing with Joe and had short walk round.

Russians gained great victory in East Prussia1.

  1. East Prussia largely disappears from standard WW1 histories after Hindenburg’s victory at Tannenberg in September 1914, which stopped the Russian advance. According to a 1917 Illinois University thesis by Benjamin E. Ludvik, “The Russian Invasions of East Prussia, 1914-15”, the Germans in turn then advanced, despite bad roads and worse rail, but their attempt to cross the Niemen near Grodno (modern Hrodna) was repulsed with heavy losses; Ludvik quotes: “The London Times claims a great victory but the Germans deny the claim”. But this appears to date from 5 October. Ludvik records that thereafter the Russians advanced “slowly but surely”, and by 14 November had reached Stallupönen (c. 80 miles E. of Königsberg), where there had been a battle on 17 August, preceding Tannenberg. But the next phase, which Ludvik calls “The second [Russian] invasion of East Prussia” did not start until January 1915. So, failing any other candidate for the “great victory”, perhaps ALL had belatedly seen or heard a reference to The Times’ October headline, with the date missing. 

26 November 1914; Thursday

[Note at top of page – ] Bulwark

Busy at work. Mrs Spain to tea. Received news that the HMS.Bulwark1 had blown up in Sheerness Harbour & over 700 lives been lost. Went with Willie Whittaker to hear “Carmen” at the King’s. It was very good and the singing good too.

  1. HMS Bulwark: pre-Dreadnought battleship attached to the Channel Fleet; exploded with the loss of 750 men (including 14 died later) when moored near Sheerness (Isle of Sheppey, in the Thames Estuary.) Cause believed to have been overheating of cordite charges placed too near a boiler-room bulkhead.