Up at 7 o’clock, on duty as usual in the hospital. Finished after dinner and went up to Y M. Wrote two letters, one to Ernie and one to Charlie. Stayed to tea. Came down and received a letter from home. Heard that we are moving this weekend. Went to the concert of the * Shifters and it was not up to much.
Busy all day. Finished at 6 o’clock and went up to the service in the Mairie. The padre was very good and we enjoyed the service. Received letter from Ernie, also parcel from Betty.
Heard that at the French victory at Verdun 9 000 prisoners and 81 guns had been captured.
Up about 7 o’clock. Helped officers’ servants by washing up breakfast things. Wrote letters to Ernie and Charlie. Wet day again. Received letter from Hilda Linfoot1.
Hilda Linfoot: believed to be Hilda Tate Linfoot, ALL’s cousin, daughter of Charles Poulter Linfoot, who with his brother William Gaylard Linfoot and their families emigrated to New Zealand on 25 July 1912. Hilda had sent ALL a birthday card in January 1914 (Diary, 31 January 1914). Very little other communication is recorded until now, but the Diary mentions further letters in 1917 and 1918, and Hilda’s address in Auckland is noted in ALL’s 1917 Diary. See also Family page. ↩
Up at 7.15. On fatigue in the morning picking up leaves. Had a bath at dinner-time and got a new shirt and pair of pants. Physical drill and smoke helmet drill in the afternoon. Wrote letters and diary in the evening. Captain Birrell spoke to me about a letter which <I> had written home and told me not to mention anything about journeys†1. I got the letter back.
Received letter from Ernie, and one from Ray McRoss.
Letters home from the front would doubtless have been subject to censorship. ALL was evidently in the habit of including details of his movements in France in letters home, probably in very much the same way as he did in his diaries. Unlike in letters home, there does not appear to have been any prohibition on the use of personal diaries in this way. ↩
Called up at 6 o’clock. Had breakfast shortly before 8 and was relieved then. Wrote letter to Joe and one to Charlie. Went on at 12 o’clock. Was relieved shortly before 2 o’clock. Just beginning dinner when we received orders to go to our billet and pack our kit. Packed kit in 20 minutes and paraded by the A.S.C. park. Had tea and waited. Received orders to go back to the billet and wait there. Beautiful afternoon. Wrote to Ernie. Turned in at the usual time.
At church parade. Wrote letter to Betty and one to Ernie in the afternoon. Green and I went to Inwoods’ to tea and supper. At church at night. The choir sang “While she dwelt in the land” in the morning.
On parade in the morning. Fine afternoon. Went for walk with Leishman. Walked up from Nether Green car1 to Wyming Valley and back by Rivelin Valley2. Grand walk and grand day. Had tea in Hudson’s café and returned to barracks about 8 o’clock. Commenced letter to Betty.
Received letter from Ernie saying he has joined R.G.A. 3 and leaves Sunderland for Great Yarmouth on Tuesday next.
Leishman4 told me all about dissecting bodies.
“Car”: means tram-car, as usual. ↩
Nether Green (A on the map) is c. 2½ miles WSW of Sheffield city centre, on the Fulwood Road. Wyming Brook (B on the map) is a river which flows from Redmires Reservoirs near the Hallam Moors in a northeasterly direction down quite steep terrain into the lower of the Rivelin Dams. The River Rivelin rises on the Hallam moors and joins the River Loxley at Malin Bridge (D on the map). The Rivelin Valley (C on the map) is a three and a half mile long woodland valley which now includes the popular Rivelin Valley Nature Trail, created in 1967. See also Sheffield map. ↩
Corporal John Leishman (service number 73063) may have had some medical-technician occupation; as with some other comrades, ALL remained in occasional touch with him when no longer in the same unit. ↩
On parade as usual. Nothing doing. At Inwoods’ at night with Green. Miss Armitage there. We had a little music, but talked most of the time.
Received letter from Joe saying Ernie had joined R.G.A1.
“R.G.A.”: Royal Garrison Artillery. In 1899 the Royal Regiment of Artillery was divided into the Royal Horse Artillery; the Royal Field Artillery; the Royal Garrison Artillery; and the Royal Artillery, which provided ammunition supplies to the first two branches, the R.G.A. providing its own. The R.H.A. and R.F.A. were the successors (respectively mounted and unmounted) of the pre-20th century battlefield mobile gunners, while the R.G.A. was created specifically to take over the coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries of the R.R.A. In 1914 the Army had very little heavy artillery, and was still using mobile artillery on the the retreat which ended at the Battle of the Marne, but the development of trench warfare and the increasing accuracy of small-arms and machine-gun fire entailed the removal of artillery to positions behind the line, and the numbers of longer-range artillery – the large-calibre guns and howitzers used by the R.G.A.- increased enormously during WW1. However, the R.G.A. must have operated close to the front line at times, as Ernie got his Military Medal in 1918 for dangerous work close to the enemy.
Ernie’s daughters left two curious ornate, coloured documents (the sort of thing that used to be called “an illuminated address”), printed on thin card, relating to Ernie’s service. One, size 46cm x 32cm landscape, is headed “A Tribute of Honour”, dated October 1919, issued and signed by the Mayor and Town Clerk of Sunderland. It is addressed in manuscript to “Ernest W. Linfoot, R.G.A.”, and records the gratitude of “your fellow citizens of Sunderland.” The other, 35cm x 28.5cm portrait, is from the Order of the Sons of Temperance, Sunderland Grand Division; it begins “For King and Country”, records the “high appreciation” of the members of this Grand Division of the services rendered by their fellow-members, and is addressed, also in manuscript, to “Bro. Ernest W. Linfoot, M.M.”, of “Crystal Fount” Division (which one assumes was a Division of the Sons of Temperance, not of the British Army); it is signed by “T. Foster, G.W. Patriarch”, and “Wm. Ellison, Grand Scribe.” The Town Hall had also provided, on a printed slip 17.5cm x 11cm, an offer from Messrs R. Youll (“Printers of the Tribute”) to provide a frame for the “Tribute of Honour” document “at a reduced cost” of six shillings and sixpence each (32½p); the War had evidently made the world fit for publicly-sponsored commercial enterprise, if not for heroes. One might assume that the “Tribute of Honour” document, at least, would have been issued by the Mayor and Corporation to all Sunderland citizens who served in the forces (not just to those who like Ernie were decorated – as it doesn’t refer to his Military Medal.) However, if ALL was given one it must have been lost or destroyed quite soon, as I never saw or heard of it. If Charlie ever had one, it never reached me. ↩
Visited Grandmother, Whittakers’1 and Jack’s. Mr Dill’s funeral in the afternoon and I went over to see it with Ernie. Met George Crawford2 who was in the procession. Climbed Ernie’s backyard wall to get in. Ernie took my photo3. Down to chapel at night and saw Mr Blott, Arthur Mullins, Billy and Edie and a few more.
While apparently taken in a back yard, there is no other evidence to suggest that the photograph of ALL accompanying this entry (top) is the one taken by Ernie on this day although a very similar photograph of Ernie himself (bottom) also exists in a family collection. See also Family page. ↩