Category Archives: May 1917

All diary entries written in May 1917

30 May 1917; Wednesday

Up at 6.30. Very busy first thing. Did a bit French in the afternoon. Read a bit of Stacpoole’s novel1. Received another officer – R G A2. Fine onset†. Out at night with Dai Davies and Driver. We went to the concert hall where there was a lecture on Egypt by Bishop Gawain†. It was pretty interesting and the Army Group Commander was in the chair. An orchestra was in attendance and we sang two hymns. Sergeant Holmes went with us and when he saw the hymn books <he> came out again, and afterwards said it was a swindle advertising a lecture and then having hymns. Met an old Sheffield chap in a shop at night.

Shelled by big high velocity gun during the night and put the wind up many of us.


  1. “Stacpoole’s novel”: See footnote on 29 May, Stacpoole and Arthur Linfoot’s Library

  2. R G A: Royal Garrison Artillery, the branch in which Ernie Linfoot was serving. 

29 May 1917; Tuesday

Up at 6.45. Not quite so warm. Usual work. Had short walk in the town in the afternoon. On at night. A new officer in with impetigo1. Did a little French and read a bit of Stacpoole’s2  Wilderness†3. Sergeant Powell and Steve Bott called and told of the shelling up the line. They had 60 cases through the dressing station last night. In at night and managed all right. Received another officer in my ward – a captain in the R Amb4. Busy until nearly 11 o’clock.


  1. Impetigo: contagious skin disease, formerly quite common. 

  2. Stacpoole: If correct, could be either: Henry De Vere Stacpoole (1863 – 1951); a very popular and prolific Irish author; best-known for his novel “The Blue Lagoon” (adapted as films many times, most famously in 1980), or; HDVS’ eldest brother, William Henry Stacpoole (1846 – 1914); doctor of divinity, Dean of Kingstown school and also a published author. 

  3. “Wilderness”: The shorthand reading is probably not correct; no work with this or any similar title appears in any list of works by either Stacpoole. See also Arthur Linfoot’s Library

  4. R Amb: presumably Royal Ambulance Service, or Corps – but not traced under these names. 

Stacpoole

The Blue LagoonOn 29 May 1917, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read a bit of Stacpoole’s Wilderness”. He continued reading it on 30 May.

Stacpoole could be either Henry De Vere Stacpoole (1863 – 1951), a very popular and prolific Irish author best-known for his novel The Blue Lagoon (1908; adapted as films many times, most famously in 1980), or; HDVS’ eldest brother, William Henry Stacpoole (1846 – 1914), doctor of divinity, Dean of Kingstown1 school and also a published author.

No book entitled “Wilderness” appears in bibliographies of either Stacpoole although much of HDVS’ oeuvre (including The Blue Lagoon) takes wilderness as a theme, while WHS’ books are all science fiction. This may suggest that the book Arthur Linfoot was reading on this day was by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, although which of his books this was remains unclear.


  1. The Irish coastal town of Dún Laoghaire was known as Kingstown from 1821 to 1920. 

28 May 1917; Monday

Up at 6.30. Kept busy all day. Stayed on at night. Had walk round the town in the morning. The Germans had put a big gun again and shelled heavily round about. I lay awake a good while listening.

Heard that a lot of artillery and suchlike had been killed the night before and that the dressing station had 70 wounded there. Wrote letter to Mr Eaves about Mr Mullens1. Did a bit French at night and read a bit.


  1. Mr Mullens: A minister from the South Durham Street United Methodist Free Church in Sunderland whose death is recorded on 20 and 24 May

27 May 1917; Sunday

Up at 6.30. Busy as usual. My turn off at night. Went to the Y M service by Amiss†. Enjoyed it very much. Good singing and good hymns. Watched the Germans shell an observation balloon and the observers go down in their two parachutes.

Fritz1 shelled heavily at night and did some damage.


  1. Fritz: a name given to German troops by the British and others in the First and Second World Wars. 

24 May 1917; Thursday

Up at 6.30. Busy in the morning. 4 patients in for me. My turn in at night. Managed very well. Glorious weather. A lot of guns going up1. Received letter from home telling more [sic] that Mr Mullens2 had died on Sunday on his way to preach at Shiney Row3.


  1. “A lot of guns…”: See note on 22 May

  2. Mr Mullens: James Mullens, a lay minister from the South Durham Street United Methodist Free Church in Sunderland, where ALL had been a member prior to joining the RAMC. ALL had also recorded Mr Mullens’ death in his diary a few days earlier on Sunday, 20th May, the day it happened. It is probable that this earlier diary note was added later, some time after the news reached ALL on the 24th. Mr Mullens was 73 years old at the date of his death. See also all diary entries tagged “Mullens”

  3. Shiney Row: mining village between Penshaw and Houghton-le-Spring, 5 miles SW. of Sunderland. 

23 May 1917; Wednesday

Up at 6.45. Shaved and dressed and commenced duty as usual. Lee helped me as he had no patients. Glorious day. Kept pretty busy. A lot of guns going up the line. My turn out. Walked about a good lot and didn’t do much. Looked up a bit French in the Y M. A German aeroplane over and a few pieces of shell and a dud fell in the town. A continuous stream of guns moving up1.


  1. “A continuous stream of guns…”: See note on 22 May