Category Archives: Abridged

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

25 April 1918; Thursday

Up about 7 o’clock. Busy in hospital all day. Received orders in the afternoon to pack up and stand by. Many rumours in from the line.

Heard of attack on Zeebrugge1.


  1. The Zeebrugge raid, with the simultaneous smaller raid on Ostend, took place on 23/24 April and was intended to prevent German access into the North Sea for blockade and military/naval purposes. It was approved in February 1918, but originally suggested by Admiral Fisher in 1917, partly as an attempt to outflank the Western Front (allegedly related to the Passchendaele campaign.) The Zeebrugge element was largely ineffective, mainly due to failure of the smoke screen and consequent failure of the main warship to get to the right place and silence the shore batteries, with the result that the concrete-laden blockships did not get into the harbour. The Ostend attack failed totally, as the British warships did not even reach the harbour entrance. Nevertheless, the raid was presented to the British public as a great achievement and 8 Victoria Crosses were awarded. 

17 April 1918; Wednesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Did practically nothing all day. A tremendous lot of French troops about. Heard that we are holding our own. The Germans shelled Westouter† in the morning and our people had shelled †out of† the convent. Some civilians killed and wounded. A very hot time for the people in the town. Some of our bearers went up again at night.

Mr Britling Sees It Through

cover image

Mr. Britling Sees It Through is H.G. Wells‘ “masterpiece of the wartime experience in England”1. The novel was published in September 1916.

The book  tells the story of a writer, Mr. Britling, who lives  in the fictional village of Matching’s Easy, Essex. The novel is divided into three parts. Book the First, entitled “Matching’s Easy At Ease”; Book the Second, “Matching’s Easy at War”; and Book the Third, “The Testament of Matching’s Easy”.

This book appears to have had a lasting appeal to Arthur Linfoot; a copy remained at his home in Sunderland and was read during WW2 by ALL’s own offspring.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had started to read this book on 3 April 1918, while stationed near Bailleul in Northern France.


  1. According to David C. Smith, writing in “H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography”. 

1 April 1918; Monday

Spent most of day packing waggons and overhauling equipment. Went out at night to Westoutre1. Four men *. Called at Johnny’s and had custard and coffee. Fine night. News from the Somme slightly better.


  1. Westoutre: Westouter (B) 3km NW. of Locre (A); Michelin square I3. 

26 March 1918; Tuesday

Up at 6 o’clock and marched off about 6.30. Arrived (after passing through * country and asking† civilians) at Bienvillers 1 at about noon and had breakfast. Received orders to move on immediately, and arrived at the cross roads near Humbercourt 2 about 3 pm. A party† left on the way. Put up tents and marquee and flags and opened up dressing station. News from the front still bad. Saw newspaper in which it said the Germans claimed 30000 prisoners and 600 guns. Still no relief. On night duty.


  1. Bienvillers: Bienvillers-au-Bois (B), 6km N. of Hébuterne (A), Michelin square H6. 

  2. Humbercourt: ?Humbercamps (C), 4km W. from B.-au-Bois; Michelin square H6. 

21 March 1918; Thursday

[Page headedGerman Offensive1.]

Up about 6 o’clock. Lay awake from 3.30 listening to a very heavy bombardment. Thought attack must be coming next. On duty at 7 o’clock. A little friction on the bed-patient washing problem. Received orders first thing to clear all bed patients and all those patients to be dressed and ready to move. Later on received orders to pack waggons, and again later that we were not going. Ben taken off the ward in the afternoon. Glorious day. Gunfire very heavy all day.


  1. This German offensive, aka “The Spring Offensive“, “The Kaiser’s Battle” (die Kaiserschlacht) and “The March Retreat”, was the last German attempt to win the war in the West before (a) the Allied blockade would make the Germans’ military and domestic situation logistically untenable, and (b) the arrival of American troops in France could make a critical impact. The initial scene of the offensive was north and south of St Quentin, some 40km east of the Somme battlefield, against the British 3rd and 5th Armies, the latter of which especially had had its section of the front extended to relieve the French army, and both of which had undergone thinning-out to offset manpower losses (the British Government by now was restricting reinforcements for Haig, partly due to industrial and reserve manpower needs in Britain, but also, rightly or wrongly, to prevent him from attempting further offensives at huge human cost.)

    Malcolm Brown, in “The Imperial War Museum Book of the Western Front”, says that “The March offensive . . . made use of . . . means [including] surprise achieved by marshalling men and matériel to the front by night; deep infiltration before zero hour by storm-troop groups who bypassed front-line defenders leaving them to be dealt with by subsequent waves; and a concentrated, devastating bombardment on all key points of the British resistance, including headquarters establishments, dumps, magazines, even individual guns.” The attack was also assisted by fog at the vital time.

    There were further German onslaughts in the following weeks, re-taking a lot of the ground which had been gained since 1916 at the cost of great British and French losses. But: much of the ground regained, eg the Somme/Ancre area, was difficult to fight on due to previous devastation, including the Germans’ own mining, trenching, tank traps etc; at long last (26 March) Allied unity of command (under General Foch) was accepted by Haig and established; and in August there was a well-planned Allied counter-attack, integrating all kinds of troops, weaponry, air and communications resources, and achieving massive troop movements in complete secrecy.  

5 March 1918; Tuesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Went to bed for the morning but didn’t sleep. Up in the afternoon and paraded at 4.30. Marched to Bus 1 where the 57th are running a hospital. We are to take over in the morning.


  1. Bus (B): 4km SE. of Haplincourt (A), on NW. side of E19; 10km from Bapaume, 22km from Cambrai; Michelin square J7. 

24 February 1918; Sunday

Up about 7 o’clock. On parade at 9.15. On fatigue all day cleaning out hut for dispensary. To be on night duty. Went up to service but were just in time for the finish. Sat up until midnight and then got down to it.

Met Leishman1.


  1. Leishman: 73063 Corporal John Leishman of the RAMC, an old comrade of ALL’s from Sheffield, first mentioned on Easter Monday 1916 while ALL was stationed at the Hillsborough barracks. Sadly, nothing is known about the circumstances of this meeting with Leishman.