Up about 8 o’clock. A glorious day. Read one of the sermons received from Joe. Read a sermon on †Judas and the Great Commonwealth†123. Were sitting outside at night when an aeroplane was shot above us. Came into the door of the dugout and a piece of shell fell pretty near. Splendid night. Harry Howells lost his pay book and 50 francs. Wrote a long letter to Joe. Had our usual porridge for supper. Bonny night. Read sermon in the †Great Commonwealth†. Turned in about 9.30.
“Judas and the Great Commonwealth”; the transcription is uncertain but, if correct, this sermon would have used a text from a book of the apocrypha, 2 Maccabees 13 vv 13-15, which describes how Judas Maccabeus, defending “the laws, the temple, the city, the country, and the commonwealth”, led a small army to victory against a superior foe by entrusting the outcome to God. ↩
Sermons were certainly being preached on this text in early 1917; see this notable example from a service held in St Paul’s cathedral on 20 April 1917 to mark the entry of the USA into the war and attended by the King and Queen and the American ambassador. ↩
The story of the same Judas Maccabeus from another book of the apocrypha, 1 Maccabees, is retold in an oratorio by G. F. Handel, Judas Maccabaeus, written for the Duke of Cumberland after his victory at the Battle of Culloden. ↩
Up shortly after 6.30. On duty all day. Received long letter from Joe and one from Mother telling me that George Crawford1 had enlisted. Fine day and good news from the front.
Fire at the house at the hospital. We were out all night at it. I got a job to watch the stuff we carried out of the ward. Got to sleep about 5 o’clock.
George Crawford, of the Hendon Paper Works office, mentioned frequently in the 1914 diary (see footnote on 30 January 1914), according to an address in the 1917 diary entered the Army Veterinary Corps. See also all posts tagged “George Crawford” and George H. Crawford at Lives of the First World War. ↩
Got piece of shrapnel out of the L† & Y1 shoulder2. Stayed up until 1.30, then lay down until about 7 o’clock. Had quiet night although the Germans sent over gas shells all the while. Were relieved at 8 o’clock. Marched down to dressing station, then to the billets near the chateau, after calling at an Army Service park. Got to know a big ammunition dump had been fired. Sergeant Jones killed and Sergeant Brown wounded about 8 o’clock. 2 men gassed the night before and a few men down the line. Fine day. Returned to old billets with Lavere. A dead German buried in the side of the trench and his foot sticking out and smelled horribly. Got to know a day or two ago that Ted Trim had got a DCM3 on July 2nd. Received parcel from home and letter from Joe. Had eggs and brown bread and butter to tea.
“L & Y”: the “L”, though unclear, seems corroborated by ALL’s transcription (but should be “Y & L”): the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Yorkshire & Lancashire Regiment were in 70th Brigade, 8th Division – not the 34th or 19th Division, but nevertheless in the central sector of the front. ↩
ALL wrote in his more detailed 1976 narrative that he had kept this piece of shrapnel as a souvenir – possibly though by no means certainly the one in the illustration accompanying this entry. ↩
“DCM”: the Distinguished Conduct Medal was for Other Ranks; officers got the Distinguished Service Cross. ↩
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.
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. ↩
On fatigue with Ted† Copeland in the morning. Left off the job at 11 o’clock and got dressed. Got 12.8 train from Alnwick and arrived home shortly before 3 o’clock. Went down for Ernie at the shop1 with Joe. Called at Wiseman’s and then went over to Ernie’s nice house and saw Hilda and had tea. Called for Ernie at night again. Had walk out with Father, Joe and Ernie last thing. Went to bed late.
Got up at 9 o’clock. Joe working until tea time. At chapel in the morning and Billy Marshall set me up to Vine Street. Walked to Uncle George’s after dinner-time. Went to chapel at night and stayed to sacrament. Came up with Joe. Jack and Hilda1 to tea. Played the piano at night. At home.
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 to see 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.