Category Archives: May 1917

All diary entries written in May 1917

Sunderland Daily Echo 23 May 1917

FUNERAL OF MR J. MULLENS.

Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

The funeral of the late Mr James Mullens, commercial traveller, who died while travelling by train on Sunday to fulfil a preaching engagement, took place at noon to-day. The coffin was of polished fumed oak with brass mountings, the shield bearing the inscription : “James Mullens, died May 20, 1917, aged 73 years.” The officiating minister was the Rev. Edward Eaves, and the interment was made in the family burial ground in Sunderland Cemetery, Ryhope Road. The mourners included Mrs F. W. Waggott (sister), Mr G. P. Mullens, Mr H. R. Mullens (sons), Mr and Mrs Arthur Mullins (son and daughter-in-law), Mr F. Waggott (son-in-law), Mr E. Stokes (brother-in-law), Mr J. H. Waggott, Sister Annie, Mr. E. Potts, Miss Hammond, Mr J. W. Gant, Mr R. P. Hann, Mr R. Bailes, Mr Eaves, and Mr J. Hine. There were no flowers, by request. Messrs Crofton and Sons had charge of the funeral arrangements.

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. 

Sunderland Daily Echo 21 May 1917

DEATH IN A TRAIN

newspaper cutting
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

The death occurred with painful suddenness yesterday morning of Mr James Mullens, 17, Athol Park. Mr Mullens, who was 701, was a well-known local preacher, and yesterday had an engagement to preach at Shiney Row. When he left the house to catch his train he knew that he was rather pressed for time ,and in consequence  he hurried to the station. After getting into the train he was taken ill and died before he reached Millfield Station. Dr Gray was then called and saw the body, and stated that death had taken place. The deceased was removed to the mortuary and afterwards to his residence. Mr Mullens was a commercial traveller.


  1. James Mullens was actually 73 years of age at the time of his death. 

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. ALL did not yet know of Mr Mullens’ death at this date and this note was added retrospectively. 

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. 

17 May 1917; Thursday

Up at 6.30. Kept busy all day. My turn out. Went to the Merry Mauves. They did W W Jacobs’ story on The Monkey’s Paw1.


  1. W W Jacobs: very popular writer of short stories and novels. His best‐known short story, “The Monkey’s Paw”, had apparently been adapted for the stage by the Merry Mauves. ALL was already familiar with WW Jacobs’ work and had written about it on 8 June 1914. See also W. W. Jacobs and Arthur Linfoot’s Library 

15 May 1917; Tuesday

Up at 6.30. Fairly busy all day. Got off a letter to Sergeant Sharpley. Went out at 5 o’clock with Warr. Walked round by the grapery and then went to the Y M and heard a lecture on savages by Dr Hutton. Enjoyed it very much. It set me thinking. Had a bath last thing.