Monthly Archives: October 2017

31 October 1917; Wednesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Breakfast and then paraded. Dismissed until about 1 o’clock. Wrote a letter home and one to Everyman1. Got on the boat shortly after 1 o’clock. Very good crossing and I enjoyed it. Big escort both in the air and sea. Marched up to Saint Martin’s camp2 in time for tea. Detailed off. Spent part of the night in the Y M and sent off a field card. Reveille at midnight.

  1. More on this letter to Everyman in a later entry. See also Everyman and Arthur Linfoot’s Library

  2. “Saint Martin’s camp”: one of several army camps in and around Boulogne. The map shows this part of ALL’s journey, from Folkestone (A) to Saint-Martin (B). 

30 October 1917; Tuesday

Arrived at London at about 6 o’clock after a fairly good journey. I managed to get a bit sleep. A lot of sailors in the train and they were a jolly lot. Arrived at Folkestone – after crossing London – about 9 o’clock1. A strong wind and sea so we were put into billets on the quay. Wrote letter home and allowed in the town in the afternoon. Made a few purchases, sent off some postcards and had a nice little tea. Met Clifton† and the R F C men and went out again at night. Glorious sunset and bonny night. Slept pretty well. Had long talk with signal engineer. He has been recalled after only 36 hours’ leave.

  1. The map shows this stage of ALL’s journey back to France from London (A) to Folkestone (B). 

29 October 1917; Monday

Up about 9 o’clock. Went up to see Mr Eaves1. Wrote to Harvey’s brother and wrote up diary.

[Diary reverts to pencil at this point – obviously written up after ALL’s return to France.]

Sister Annie2 called at night and we had a long argument on men – whether they are as good as parsons think they are or not. She stayed until 7 o’clock. I had supper and then we all went up to the station. I left by the 9.15. †Annie Freeman† at the station to see Teddie Tudor† off but he wasn’t going. †Dee Frere† and Hilda3 there. Called on Granny in the afternoon just after tea. Jack at the station too and Joe.

Left Sunderland 9.15 for Newcastle. Arrived Newcastle about 10 and left again after an hour4. Got good seat in the train.

  1. Edward Eaves was a minister at the South Durham Street United Methodist Free Church. According to the diary, ALL had written to Mr Eaves twice, on 28 December 1916 and 28 May 1917, the latter shortly after Mr Mullens, another minister at the church, had died, presumably to offer condolences. Mr Eaves had officiated at Mr Mullens’ funeral. 

  2. “Sister Annie” is also named as a mourner at the funeral of Mr Mullens on 23 May 1917. See also note on 28 December 1916

  3. It is unclear which Hilda this may have been. 

  4. The map shows the first part of ALL’s journey back to France, from Sunderland (A) to London (C) on an overnight train, via Newcastle (B). 

27 October 1917; Saturday

Up as usual. Walked round the town in the afternoon. Went down to the chapel at night and met a few people including Willie Whittaker senior1.

  1. Willie Whittaker senior was the father of ALL’s friend from chapel, Willie Whittaker junior, whose death is noted retrospectively in the diary entry for 22 October. It is very likely that Willie Whittaker senior did not yet know about the death of his son – ALL himself only found out after his return to France, on 8 November. 

25 October 1917; Thursday

Out as usual all day. Played the piano a lot. Uncle George down at night.

News of Italian defeat.

Italian Defeat 1.

  1. The Italian defeat would presumably be Caporetto, also known as the 12th Battle of the Isonzo and the Battle of Karfreit. There had been 5 more battles of the Isonzo since the 6th, referred to in a note on 21 August. Caporetto is reckoned to have lasted from 24 October to 19 November, so 25 October seems a little early for the defeat to have been accepted; but this entry is also one of those added later. Caporetto was probably the biggest single event in the war between Italy and Austria-Hungary, though the latter were aided on this occasion by the Germans, with poison gas. The defeat is a, or the, major event in Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”. The location is now in Slovenia – now named Kobarid. 

24 October 1917; Wednesday

Up at about 8 o’clock. Spent usual day. Father off in the afternoon and went to the Picture House1 with me where we saw “A Tale of Two Cities”2. Went to Todd’s at night and had a very nice time. A few strange girls3 there.

  1. “The Picture House”: the capitals are the editor’s and are not marked in the shorthand. Was this the Picture House, reputedly the oldest cinema in Sunderland and still operating in the 1940s, or  a picture house (possibly the Havelock House again; see 27 December 1915)? 

  2. A Tale of Two Cities: Presumably the 1917 silent version released by Fox Film Corporation, directed by Frank Lloyd and starring William Farnum, Jewel Carmen and Charles Clary

  3. “Strange girls” may sound odd to contemporary ears, but ALL means only that these girls were not previously known to him and not that they were peculiar.