Category Archives: May 1917

All diary entries written in May 1917

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: A 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, apparently 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

22 May 1917; Tuesday

Up at about 6.50. On duty as usual. Kept fairly busy. Off at night and went to the Pierrots. They were fairly good but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have done concerts. With Gus Rodman and Dai Davies. Went to bed late as usual. A lot of guns1 going up the line.


  1. “A lot of guns”: this was in preparation for the Battle of Messines Ridge, which began on 7 June with the detonation of 19 mines of unprecedented size under the German lines (2 more are still there, unexploded.) On this occasion, the artillery barrage did not begin until the mines were blown, so that the Germans had no warning of the attack, which took place immediately after a comparatively short but intense bombardment. Apparently the Germans had not picked up any signs of the impending attack, though it seems from ALL’s diary that artillery movements were there to be seen.

    Passchendaele, or the 3rd Battle of Ypres, which began on 31 July, followed Messines Ridge, and besides its quasi-political objective (to relieve the French army, by then suffering from mutinies following the failure of Nivelle’s attack of mid-April – 9 May in the Reims/Chemin des Dames area and the associated British attack at Arras), it was intended at least to capture the higher ground to the south and east of Ypres, from which the Ypres salient was constantly threatened, and possibly to enable the capture of the Belgian sea-ports. The front line ran in an approximate semi-circle round the east side of Ypres, and from the southern point of this the Messines Ridge ran further southward. 

20 May 1917; Sunday

Up at 6.50. Kept busy all morning. Wrote letters in the afternoon. Lovely day. A lot of troops going up the line1. Dory and Holman called for me in the afternoon and we went to Méteren again. Very hot day. I went to the †Anglicans’ Creed Ascension† service at night and it was very good, but not up to last week.

Heard that Mr Mullens2 had died.


  1. “A lot of troops…”: ALL also mentions a lot of guns moving up the line around this time. See note on 22 May

  2. Mr Mullens: A minister from the South Durham Street United Methodist Free Church in Sunderland, where ALL had been a member prior to joining the RAMC. Mr Mullens, Esther and Arthur Mullens are all mentioned occasionally throughout the diaries. 

19 May 1917; Saturday

Up at 6.40. Kept busy all day. Stayed in at night and helped with dinner. Wrote some letters. A lot of guns going up the line1. Rumours of Russia turning it in2 and the war being over soon3.


  1. “A lot of guns…”: This movement of guns (and troops) is noted over a period of several more days. See note on 22 May

  2. “Turning it in” (if this reading is correct; it seems an early date for this colloquialism) means withdrawing from or abandoning some endeavour. 

  3. Revolutionary Russia did eventually withdraw from the war in October/November 1917, having been increasingly disorganised in its war efforts after the February Revolution of 1917, the rumour of which ALL had noted in his diary on 18 March, but sadly the war was not over soon.