Up shortly after 7. Packed up ready to move. Heard that the Germans had retired and our people advanced to the position which they were going to attack this morning. Also rumour that leave will open shortly. Wrote letter to Mother and talked about pre-war work and turned in about 9.20. Read scraps from Everyman1. Moved to Vendegies2.
Up at 7 o’clock. On parade in the morning. Wet day. I played the part of wounded man and was carried on a stretcher for the first time in my life. Football match in the afternoon between our team and the King’s Own1, first round in the cup tie – and we won 6 – 0. Received papers from home and “Everyman”2 published my letter in reply to Roderick Random. Received letter from Charlie written on the 28th October.
SIR. – I have been very much amused and occasionally just a little annoyed by the neat little gibes which “Roderick Random” so often makes at teetotalers. In the last copy which I had the pleasure of reading he said something (I haven’t EVERYMAN by me) about “before men grew teetotal and flabby.” Permit me, modestly and with cap in hand, to state my own case. I am one of a third generation of most bigoted teetotalers, and neither I nor my fathers are – or were – particularly flabby. We can boast fairly healthy carcases, tolerably clear minds, and maybe a seasoning of humour. In the realm of hard knocks we hold our own whether they be the playful little taps of circumstance or the more energetic blows given by fragments of high-explosive shell. I am just winding up ten days’ leave after twenty months’ active service, and have had the honour – scarcely a pleasure – of being in every stunt in that period with the exception of Vimy Ridge – and never condescended to indulge in a rum ration. I am not by any means the only total abstainer on active service. They are as plentiful as German whizzbangs and as hard as Army biscuits. I venture to assert that you will find more flabbiness of body and mind amongst topers than amongst abstainers.
Pardon scrawl and a hastily written letter. I am at rest camp waiting for the cross-Channel boat. In a few more hours I shall be wending my way to the battle-line and will face Fritz – without a rum ration.
Up about 7 o’clock. Breakfast and then paraded. Dismissed until about 1 o’clock. Wrote a letter home and one to Everyman1. Got on the boat shortly after 1 o’clock. Very good crossing and I enjoyed it. Big escort both in the air and sea. Marched up to Saint Martin’s camp2 in time for tea. Detailed off. Spent part of the night in the Y M and sent off a field card. Reveille at midnight.
Up about 7 o’clock. No parade in the morning on account of rain. Short route march in the afternoon and at the Follies at night. Did bit French and got some copies of Great Thoughts1 from the new chap and gave him Everyman2.
Up at 7.15. Most of the chaps intoxicated. I got a pair of new boots. Fine morning. No parade in the afternoon and I did a bit French. Had short walk at night with Harry Bascombe and Vic Barber. Read a bit from Everyman1 and read an account of an Italian and a French victory. Italians 7600 prisoners at *2. French 4000 prisoners.
Name (shorthand outline S-v-d- ?) not identified, but in the 6th Battle of the Isonzo (August 1917), the best episode of the War for Italy, Gen. Cadorna captured Gorizia on the 8th, made a bridgehead over the Isonzo (now Soča), and ended this offensive on 17th August. ↩
Slept in and didn’t get up until after 8 o’clock. Walked along Kil Kel [sic] Braes1 in the morning and read Mr McKenna2 on the new War Loan. Spent the afternoon on the sea front and read a bit of Everyman3. Bought a teddy bear for Moira and some other presents for home. Met Ernie at night and spent the night with the photographs.
Got up shortly after 6 o‘clock and went down for a bathe. Walked round town in the morning and down to the sea side. Read some of Omar1 and a bit from “Everyman.”2 Ernie off in the afternoon. * took some photos and developed them. Smashed a lamp and had some trouble and fuss. Walked out last thing with Ernie.
Got up 6.15. Had walk along Hendon beach and cliff with Alf before breakfast. Had a bit of a row with Willie about a football. Sent 5/- to Everyman1 for Persian relief fund. Went to Porteous and had another tooth out. Went to Roker at night with Willie and Charlie. Walked as far as Whitburn.
British troops in Antwerp2. Germans attack with artillery only.
Very slack at work. Finished early. Got hair cut. Had bath. Read a good lot of Everyman1 and wrote up old diaries about the time I was commencing to go with Mildred†.
News to hand of the damage of the cruiser Pegasus by the German cruiser Konigsberg while she was at anchor and not under steam2. Also the sinking of 5 merchant ships by the Emden3 and the sinking of the Cap Trafalgar by the Carmania4.
The big battle in France still going on. Read Lloyd George’s speech.
SMS cruiser Emden was used as a raider in the Indian Ocean, and in September 1914 alone took over 20 British merchant ships, as well as raiding Madras. See also 29 Sept., 10 Nov., and note on 9 December. ↩
Cap Trafalgar was a large modern German liner (1913, 23,640 tons) converted as an auxiliary cruiser, in service in the South Atlantic; she was found and sunk at a secret base in the Brazilian islands of Trindade, 500 miles E. of Brazil, on 14 September by the Carmania, another ex-liner (1905, 19,500 tons) fitted out as an armed merchant cruiser; the Cap Trafalgar was thus the first ex-liner to be sunk by another ex-liner. ↩