Category Archives: Abridged

A selection of Arthur Linfoot’s most interesting diary entries.

19 February 1918; Tuesday

Up at 3 a.m. Paraded at 4 o’clock and went off in cars to Haplincourt1 crossroads. Got lorries from there to Achiet2 and train from there to Amiens3. Arrived at Amiens about 9.30. Holman taken rather badly. Had good breakfast and then visited the cathedral. In the afternoon visited the museum and were taken round by a Y M man – a very tactful and clever man. The sculpture work was the most magnificent I have seen, and the pictures were very wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the museum. Had tea and got train about 5.50. Arrived back at 9.45, very tired. Gertie’s Birthday.

  1. Haplincourt (if correct; B): 3km from Rocquigny (A), 5km E. of Bapaume; Michelin square J7. 

  2. Achiet: probably Achiet-le-Grand (C; there is an A.-le-Petit nearby), 5km WNW. of Bapaume, Michelin square I7. 

  3. Amiens (D), about 50km SW. of Achiet-le-Grand. 

14 February 1918; Thursday

Up about 6.30. Breakfast at seven and helped to pack waggons and moved off from Metz about 9.15. After being lost, Got to number 13 rail station and went by light rail to Roquigny1. Arrived there about 12 o’clock. A most desolate hole. A German line of trenches near and innumerable shell holes all about beside the ruined village and blasted woods. Went to bed early. Very poor billet and wholly packed. On fatigue in the afternoon until pretty late. Out on fire picket.

  1. Rocquigny (so spelt; B) is 12km W. of Metz-en-Couture (A) and 7km SE. of Bapaume; Michelin square J7. 

13 February 1918; Wednesday

Up about 8 o’clock. Packed up things and got all ready for relieving party. 63rd Division ambulance arrived at about 3 o’clock. We had tea and got away about 5 o’clock. After a little trouble slept in the dispensary and slept well. Left Trescault for Metz1.

  1. ALL returned from Trescault (A) to Metz-an-Couture (B), where he had been until mid-January. 

9 February 1918; Saturday

Up about 8 o’clock. Down to headquarters. Long argument at night with Sergeant Cooper and the rest †on the subject of† red lamps1.

Received letter from Ernie to say that he will probably be going on leave about this time.

  1. “Red lamps”, if a correct transcription, almost certainly refers to the widespread use of licensed brothels by troops in France during WW1. According to this piece on WW1 brothels at the BBC, brothels displayed blue lamps if they were for officers and red lamps for other ranks.

    Given ALL’s strong religious principles and his well documented position on a related moral issue, alcohol, there can be little doubt that ALL was against while Sergeant Cooper and the rest were for red lamps, hence the argument noted here, although the exact nature of the argument can only be guessed at. 

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 * *. 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). 

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. 

20 January 1918; Sunday

Up about 7.45. A few patients in to breakfast. Walked down to headquarters with a note. Our bearers took over the A D S1 at Ribécourt2. D M S3 round.

Did a bit French last thing and read a speech by Dr Cleaver on the progress of the war after 1917.

  1. Advanced Dressing Station. 

  2. Ribécourt: Actually Ribécourt-la-Tour (B) 3km nearer to Cambrai than Trescault (A); also Michelin square K7. 

  3. Director of Medical Services. 

17 January 1918; Thursday

My 28th Birthday     Up about 7.30. A lot of patients in for breakfast. Kept busy all day and a record day. Over 140 patients to go. A stretcher wounded case in at night. I had two green envelopes1 given me by a patient and wrote a letter home at night. Received a letter and card and photo group with Billy Peake on it from home. Went to bed about midnight.

  1. Green envelopes: Letters from soldiers on active service were subject to censorship but, as a privilege, soldiers were also given one green envelope per month in which they could send uncensored personal and private letters. If unused, perhaps these green envelopes were a gift to ALL, hence ALL’s letter home later this day? 

14 January 1918; Monday

Up about 7.30. Billy Truman, Murray and I went up to walking wounded post at Trescault1. Found Sergeant Powell there. Very busy all day and had a lot of men to look after. Ben Jenkins and Carmichael there too. Worked until late. Unsatisfactory job. Sent for more men.

  1. Trescault (B): next village up (from (A) Metz-en-Couture), 3km nearer to Cambrai; Michelin square K7.