Up at 8 o’clock. The place very heavily shelled all the morning and part of the afternoon. Carried one case in the morning and were shelled most of the journey. Fine night. Received newspapers mentioning Mr Aitken’s death1.
Mr Aitken had been ALL’s boss at the Hendon Paper Mill and had died on 20 September. This news had first reached ALL on 25 September. The cutting reproduced above could possibly have appeared in one of newspapers received by ALL on this day.
Up at 7 o’clock. Went down to the Divisional train to see the sick with the American officer. Told off for night duty with Bromley for tonight. Glorious day. Received letter from home telling me that Mr Aitken has died1. Warned for night but brought off it again at 7.30 and warned for stretcher bearing tomorrow.
Up at 5 o’clock. Got on our overalls and waited until 9 before the first batch of wounded were down. I worked most of the day with the new American officer, Lieutenant Gutteridge. Went off about 8 or 9 o’clock. Between 4-500 cases.
“Battle of Ridges”: Probably the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge. Sometimes called “Battle of the Menin Road”, this was the third British general attack of the Third Battle of Ypres. The battle took place from 20–25 September 1917. Like the above longhand note about Mr Aitken, this was probably added later – ALL clearly knew of a “big push” on this day but probably only later came to know it as “Battle of Ridges”. ↩
Got up late. Played the piano. Called at Lily’s, George Crawford’s and the Mill1 in the afternoon. Had a fairly long talk with Aitken, who hinted that our jobs were filled. Played piano and ping pong at night. Saw Willie off at 9.30 in the morning. Saw Billy off.
“Mill”: Hendon Paper Mill, where ALL had been employed prior to joining the RAMC. See also Sunderland map. ↩
Got up at 9 o’clock. Walked down to the office1 about 12 o’clock. Saw all but Oliver and Mr Aitken. Oliver has enlisted in the Royal Engineers and is at the War Office. George to be married next Wednesday. Edward leaving to go to Fourstones2. Didn’t see Mr Aitken. Walked round the town with Joe in the afternoon. Played the piano a bit. Mrs Wiseman and Co. to tea. Went down and saw Willie Wanless.
“Fourstones” refers to another paper mill (marked on map) near a village of the same name, between Hexham and Haydon Bridge on the river South Tyne. The Edward mentioned in this diary entry evidently planned to take up employment there.
At work as usual. Mr Aitken back at dinner time. Busy all day. Finished late. Saw an aeroplane pass over. Heavy fighting in France. Stayed in at night. Read and played a bit. Edward off in the afternoon.
Pretty busy at the office. Wrote for two boys to call. Two boys called and were interviewed by Mr Aitken with regard to the office-boy’s job. I shaved and played a bit, and went round by Gordon’s and paid his bill and placed an order. Called by the chapel and came up with Blaikie and Billy Whittaker. Talked to Blaikie until after 10 o’clock. Lay awake tonight with toothache.
At work as usual. Tom Faichen commenced in the mill. Father recommenced work at 9 oclock, first turn out since his accident. I had to do Mr Aitken’s letters, the summary, and the forecasts. Received news that the Queen Elizabeth 15 inch gun ship1 has been engaged at the Dardanelles. Wrote for two boys to call.