Category Archives: January 1918

All diary entries written in January 1918.

25 January 1918; Friday

Up about 7.45. Fine day. At headquarters in the morning. A German aeroplane dropped a bomb within a few feet of the train1 at night. Killed three M G C2 men and wounded 7. We were busy dressing them. Billy Truman and I went out about 9 o’clock and found the body of the last dead man †called Wyeth†. A bonny moonlight night. Received letter from Leishman.

  1. While no railway now exists at or near Trescault, at least one contemporary record (A Medico’s Luck in the War pp 161-162) suggests that a narrow gauge railway line existed at this time, running past the main dressing station, and that it was used for the evacuation of casualties. 

  2. M G C: Machine Gun Corps. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission names three men of the Machine Gun Corps killed at Trescault on this date, very likely to be the three mentioned here by ALL. They are 21246 Sgt. Edward Valentine Townsend, 119959 Pte. G. F. P. King and 87714 Pte. J. Wyeth. All three are buried at Ribecourt Road Cemetery, Trescault (B), just under 1km NE of Trescault (A). Transcription of the words “called Wyeth” is uncertain, but Pte. Wyeth’s name was doubtless accessible from his identity disc or pay-book. 

24 January 1918; Thursday

Up about 7.45. Not much to do all day. Walked to headquarters in the morning with the report. Heard that the Goeben and Breslau1 have been in a scrap and put out. Wrote to Ernie.

  1. Goeben and Breslau: there is a long story behind this brief reference: these German battle-cruisers had been on station in the Aegean in 1912 during the two Balkan Wars, and were still in the Mediterranean in August 1914. The Royal Navy failed to intercept them on the outbreak of WW1; Turkey gave them asylum, but had not yet declared war, so the two vessels were transferred to the Turkish Navy to avoid having to intern them (Goeben became the Yavuz Sultan Semil, and Breslau the Midilli.) This was quite a cause célèbre in August 1914, though it is not mentioned then in ALL’s diary. Now, in January 1918, the Turkish effort in Palestine (where Charlie Linfoot was) was failing, but the British Aegean Squadron had only coastal gunboats, destroyers and two pre-Dreadnought battleships, and in the temporary absence of the two old battleships the Turkish Navy brought these two battle-cruisers out to attack the small ships at what became the Battle of Imbros (20 January). The Turks badly damaged the gunboats etc, but both Yavuz Sultan Semil and Midilli struck mines; Midilli sank and Yavuz S S was disabled, and beached in the Dardanelles, effectively finishing off Turkey’s navy. Although the two ships had had Turkish names since August 1914, they were evidently still known in Britain by their original German names.