Category Archives: May 1915

All diary entries written in May 1915.

31 May 1915; Monday

At work as usual. Pretty busy all day. Finished in decent time. Played and read a bit. Went to Newcastle with Dora’s Charlie and after walking about all the night found the recruiting office and that they were not open for R.A.M.C. Came home about 10 o’clock at night. News received in town about the heavy loss to the 7th Durhams.

Air Raid on London1. 4 people killed, but nothing very serious reported.

  1. This was the first air raid of the war to target London. Zeppelin LZ-32 flew about 400 miles to reach the English capital. Stoke Newington was the first place to suffer the attack. 

28 May 1915; Friday

At work as usual. Very busy all day. Stayed back until 8 o’clock.

“H.M.S. Majestic”1 sunk by German submarine in the Dardanelles & “Princess Irene”2 blown up at Sheerness with heavy loss of life. The 7th Durhams had rough time early in week.

  1. H M S Majestic”: old (1895) battleship; torpedoed 27 May 1915 off Cape Helles, with the loss of 49 men. 

  2. Princess Irene”: a 5,400 ton passenger vessel, built 1914 for Canadian Pacific for the Vancouver – Seattle route; requisitioned by RN on completion as auxiliary minelayer; exploded on 27 May 1915 while loading mines upstream from Sheerness, near Chatham; 352 killed: 273 crew, 76 dock workers, 3 others by debris including a girl of 9 on the Isle of Grain; large debris (including human body parts, near Hartlip, east of Gillingham) fell in 9 –10 mile radius. 

27 May 1915; Thursday

At work as usual. Busy all day. Received word that Sands1 & Jack Pallin2 are both wounded. H.M.S. Triumph3 sunk in Dardanelles by German submarine. Went to work at night, Came up with Blaikie and Willie Whittaker and was late in getting in.

  1. Most probably the same Sands as mentioned in earlier entries alongside Bob Brotherston who had subsequently died on 6th May. Nothing more is yet known about Sands. 

  2. This is the first and only occasion on which Jack Pallin is mentioned in the diary but it seems probable that this was also a work colleague from the paper mill. The 1901 census lists a John Y. Pallin living in Ryhope, quite near the Hendon Paper Mill, and gives his occupation as “Paper Finisher Paper Mill”; Jack was and remains a common alternative name for John. This John Y. Pallin was born in 1880 and was thus ten years older than Arthur Linfoot. The death of a John Y. Pallin at the age of 39 is recorded in 1919 and his name was listed on the war memorial at St Aidan’s Church, Ryhope Road, Grangetown, Sunderland. See also John Y. Pallin at Lives of the First World War – that life story appears somewhat ambiguous in its present form (as at 27 May 2015), but the Medal Index Card connected to it suggests that John Y. Pallin served with the Durham Light Infantry (service number 2650), as did Bob Brotherston (and probably Sands). 

  3. H M S Triumph”: pre-dreadnought battleship, built Barrow-in-Furness for Chile but bought for RN before completion (1903); torpedoed by U-­21 off Gaba Tepe, 25 May 1915; 78 crew lost. 

24 May 1915; Monday

At Durham1. Left by the 9.13 train with Charlie and Willie. Had a near shave to catch it. Grand day. At the cathedral service. Charlie left by the 2.4 train. We left about 4.30 and walked home. Arrived between 7.30 and 8 o’clock. Had tea at a café and a wash and brush up in Corporation lavatory. Stayed in at night and read.

  1. Durham: a historic city in North East England, about 14 miles south-west of Sunderland. Durham is well known for its Norman cathedral, mentioned by ALL in this diary entry, and 11th century castle, both designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. 

23 May 1915; Sunday

Fine day. At chapel and School. Went to Mount Tabor church in the morning and heard Rev AL Broadfield preach, and he was very good. Mr Hewitt evangelist preached his farewell sermon at our chapel at night, and it was scandalous. He afterwards had a row with Mr Waggott. Charlie at work most of the day, and I was at Whittakers’ to tea with Blaikie. Fine day.

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.