Monthly Archives: December 2015

30 December 1915; Thursday

The Scotchmen all away. Paraded as usual. Kept busy all day. A big dance in the sergeants’ mess. I didn’t go. In town in the morning with motorcar. Walked up to the farm where we get the mail and made our account out. Out at night last thing. In Y.M. a bit. Read and wrote letters home and to Franchie.

Dance in Sergeants’ Mess. X Friday.

[Written on next page (Friday) – ] Thursday Got books squared pretty well up.

27 December 1915; Monday

Walked round town in the morning. In the afternoon went with Blaikie and Willie to the Victoria Hall pictures, but there was something the matter with the lighting kit. So went on the car1 to the Mill2, but it was closed. Went with Willie and his father to the Havelock House3 new picture house. Very nice place, but poor subjects for pictures. Alf and Ada to tea and supper – and Aunt Mary, – and played ping pong at night.

  1. “On the car” means on the tram car. 

  2. “The Mill”: Hendon Paper Mill, where ALL had been employed as a clerk before volunteering to join the RAMC. Evidently the Mill was closed for the Christmas holiday? See also Sunderland map. 

  3. “Havelock House”: The Havelock cinema opened on 16th December 1915, only a few days prior to this diary entry, on the former site of  the Havelock House drapery store, itself famously destroyed by fire in 1898 – purportedly the worst fire in the history of the city. The Havelock cinema was still in use well after WWII. It became the Gaumont in 1950 and closed in 1963

26 December 1915; Sunday

At chapel twice. Mrs Whittaker asked me to take the children’s service for her and I did. Good meeting. I told them a story. Henry Hodgkinson called in the afternoon and I stayed in and talked to him. He is working at Stockton in a drysalter’s store1. Went down to Grandmother’s after service. A big crowd there. She seems a little better than when I saw her last.

  1. Drysalters were dealers in a range of chemical products, including glue, varnish, dye and colourings. They might supply salt or chemicals for preserving food and sometimes also sold pickles, dried meat or related items. 

25 December 1915; Saturday

Got up late. Willie came up about 11 o’clock. Went for Blaikie with Joe and Willie. Had cake and wine at their house. Henry Blaikie and Willie called after dinner and we walked round by Hylton1. Went to pictures at the Picture House at night and saw the Star of Joseph, and the Legend of Provence. Both very good. Went to Whittakers’ to supper. All our family there. Came up home about 12 o’clock. Wondered how Charlie was getting on.

  1. “Hylton”: probably South Hylton (A), about 2 miles W. of Eldon Street (B), on S. bank of Wear; North Hylton is directly across the river, and Hylton Castle (C), restored in recent years, is about 1½ miles NNE. of N. Hylton. 

24 December 1915; Friday

Got up about 7 o’clock. Dressed, paraded for pay, and got 10.20 train. Arrived Sunderland about 2 o’clock. Walked in as they were reading my letter saying I wasn’t going to get home. Played piano most of the afternoon. Went into town with Gertie at night, but it rained heavily and I sent Gertie back. Went to Whittakers’. Had supper. Met their soldier friend, Mr Spencer. Willie set me back. He looks all right in uniform1. Didn’t go to bed until late.

  1. This would have been Willie Whittaker (not Willie Marshall); see 2 November for his enlisting. His death is recorded in November 1917. 

23 December 1915; Thursday

Up at 7.30. Usual day. Collins saw the colonel, who promised to wire Sheffield about leave. Got to know last thing at the Y.M. that we were being granted passes. With Corporal Brown until nearly 11 o’clock helping to make out passes. Up at the officers’ quarters last thing getting them signed. 3 men got away.

22 December 1915; Wednesday

Up at 7.30. Watch stopped. Parade of all N.C.O.s and colonel told us that patients were going on well. Gelsthorp reported sick too late and was taken to the orderly room and admonished. Went to town last thing. Got to know going in Y.M. that we were getting passes after all. Cullis said last thing that Corporal Collins had to see the colonel in the morning.