Billington is named several times during October and November 1916 and again in April 1917. He is identified as “officer’s servant” when first mentioned on 28 October 1916, but no other diary record exists of him – his first name, rank and service number are never mentioned – so we can never know which of the many Billingtons listed at Lives of the First World War this Billington was.
Up at 6 o’clock. Marched off at 7 o’clock. Arrived at the dressing station about 8 o’clock. Spent the morning digging and was very tired after it. Returned about 1 o’clock. Turned out wet in the afternoon so we did nothing in the afternoon. Went to the Y M at night to the Follies. Saw Billington on dancing.
We were shelled pretty heavily going down the road. Got lift in a lorry. One of the North Lancs wounded by the first shell.
Up about 7.30. Played football a good bit. Helped Billington in the morning. Received orders at dinner to pack up and go to Aveluy1 on the ration cart after dinner. Wet day with occasional rays of sunshine. Put on night duty in the dressing tent. Slept in the tent. Nothing to do all night.
Aveluy: The same Aveluy (A) as mentioned for the first time on 2 November (spelled “Aveloy” on that occasion), not far from Brickfields (B). ↩
Up about 7.30. Helped Billington as usual. A very big gun came up on the rails at night and we could hear the explosion of the shells as well as the gun. They must have been very big ones. Aeroplanes also dropped bombs over Albert and set something on fire. A pretty noisy night.
Up about 7.30. Dressed and shaved and helped Billington with the breakfast things as usual. Helped with supper.
Received 5 days’ letters. One from mother telling me that Frances1 had dislocated her shoulder through falling in the street.
The shorthand seems to have “Francis”, but it is definitely “her shoulder”, not “his”. This is probably the Frances Cuthbert mentioned in a later diary entry and is certainly not Franchie Inwood. Nothing else is known about Frances Cuthbert. ↩
Up about 7.30. Rained heavily in the morning. Played football good part of the day. Had bath in the afternoon in the village of Aveloy1. Got out fine in the evening. Helped Billington as usual. Helped with the supper at the officers’ mess. Rumours of peace, which we would like to believe but dare not. No post.
Shelled heavily during the night and not so far away.
Aveloy: there is an Aveluy (A), 2km N. of Albert town centre, not far from the Brickfields camp (B), Michelin square H7. ↩
Up about 7.30. Helped Billington as usual. Showery weather. Received letter from Metgrave enclosing other two letters referring to the rumour of my death1. Aeroplane scare at night, and we had to put out lights and the cookhouse fire in the middle of the officers’ dinner.
This is the only time that the rumour of ALL’s death is mentioned in any of the diaries. Nothing more is known about it. ↩