12 May 1916; Friday

On parade as usual. Nothing doing. At Inwoods’ at night with Green. Miss Armitage there. We had a little music, but talked most of the time.

Received letter from Joe saying Ernie had joined R.G.A1.

  1. “R.G.A.”: Royal Garrison Artillery. In 1899 the Royal Regiment of Artillery was divided into the Royal Horse Artillery; the Royal Field Artillery; the Royal Garrison Artillery; and the Royal Artillery, which provided ammunition supplies to the first two branches, the R.G.A. providing its own. The R.H.A. and R.F.A. were the successors (respectively mounted and unmounted) of the pre-20th century battlefield mobile gunners, while the R.G.A. was created specifically to take over the coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries of the R.R.A. In 1914 the Army had very little heavy artillery, and was still using mobile artillery on the the retreat which ended at the Battle of the Marne, but the development of trench warfare and  the increasing accuracy of small-arms and machine-gun fire entailed the removal of artillery to positions behind the line, and the numbers of longer-range artillery – the large-calibre guns and howitzers used by the R.G.A.- increased enormously during WW1. However, the R.G.A. must have operated close to the front line at times, as Ernie got his Military Medal in 1917 for dangerous work close to the enemy.

    Ernie’s daughters left two curious ornate, coloured documents (the sort of thing that used to be called “an illuminated address”), printed on thin card, relating to Ernie’s service. One, size 46cm x 32cm landscape, is headed “A Tribute of Honour”, dated October 1919, issued and signed by the Mayor and Town Clerk of Sunderland. It is addressed in manuscript to “Ernest W. Linfoot, R.G.A.”, and records the gratitude of “your fellow citizens of Sunderland.” The other, 35cm x 28.5cm portrait, is from the Order of the Sons of Temperance, Sunderland Grand Division; it begins “For King and Country”, records the “high appreciation” of the members of this Grand Division of the services rendered by their fellow-members, and is addressed, also in manuscript, to “Bro. Ernest W. Linfoot, M.M.”, of “Crystal Fount” Division (which one assumes was a Division of the Sons of Temperance, not of the British Army); it is signed by “T. Foster, G.W. Patriarch”, and “Wm. Ellison, Grand Scribe.” The Town Hall had also provided, on a printed slip 17.5cm x 11cm, an offer from Messrs R. Youll (“Printers of the Tribute”) to provide a frame for the “Tribute of Honour” document “at a reduced cost” of six shillings and sixpence each (32½p); the War had evidently made the world fit for publicly-sponsored commercial enterprise, if not for heroes. One might assume that the “Tribute of Honour” document, at least, would have been issued by the Mayor and Corporation to all Sunderland citizens who served in the forces (not just to those who like Ernie were decorated – as it doesn’t refer to his Military Medal.) However, if ALL was given one it must have been lost or destroyed quite soon, as I never saw or heard of it. If Charlie ever had one, it never reached me. (DL)