22 May 1915; Saturday

At work as usual1. Finished about 2 o’clock. Called for papers in the afternoon. Walked round Grindon with Charlie and Willie Whittaker at night. Fine night. Played the piano a bit.

Terrible Railway Accident at Gretna Green2. Troop train, goods train and express all smashed up and an appalling death roll. Daily Mail3 burned at Stock Exchange.

  1. Saturday morning working was of course normal – as it remained until the 1960s. 

  2. “Terrible Railway Accident at Gretna Green”: the Quintinshill rail disaster remains the worst ever UK rail accident – 246 injured, est. 230 killed (uncertain because regimental records being carried in the train were destroyed in fire caused by gas lighting in wooden carriages); troop train (carrying men bound for the Dardanelles) hit local passenger train (wrongly shunted onto main line), was then hit by express train; fire ignited two nearby goods trains. Two signalmen were convicted of culpable homicide (broadly equivalent to the English offence of manslaughter; the trial took place in Scotland). 

  3. The Daily Mail was burned (and its circulation fell by a quarter of a million) because of its personal attack on Field-­Marshal Lord Kitchener, who was still immensely popular with the public as Secretary of State for War. The proprietor, Lord Northcliffe, was running a campaign against the Government’s conduct of the War, mainly based on a shortage of shells to which the Generals in France claimed their lack of success was due.