“John Dory” is first mentioned on Christmas Day 1916 and is then named on several further occasions in the diary. He appears to have been associated with ALL’s unit in some way although we have not been able to identify him. It is possible that the transcription of his name, which is only ever written in shorthand, is incorrect; Lives of the First World War lists no “John Dory”.
Up about 6.30. on duty at 7 o’clock. Kept pretty busy all morning. Didn’t do much in afternoon. DMS1 round and made drastic change in the ward. Concert of Number Nines2 at night. Pretty good considering the †compère and merriment†1 vile3. Had short walk afterwards. Little chat with John Dory and A B Watt and Watt lent me a paper to read an article on the “Chance of peace”
The Number Nines (assuming as always that the transcription is correct) were presumably a Forces concert party (and if so, presumably based on some medical unit) – ALL had previously mentioned the Number 9s [sic] on 15 August 1917. ↩
The transcription is uncertain: “compère” assumes a nasalised “o”, ie no written “m”; ‘merriment’ is the only word which seems to fit the second outline, but is dubious; the sense appears to be that the environment for the concert was difficult. ↩
Up at about 7.30 after rather restless night with the cold. Paraded at 9 o’clock and did a small fatigue job. Cleaned canteen and wrote up diary. Two dining sessions and I went into the second one at 1.15. Very good spread. Menu and all the rest of it. C O and officers came in and made usual speech. Room very nicely decorated. Concert at 3.30. Steve Bott and John Dory pretty good and the others pretty awful. Corporal Chapman and Cotter about the worst singers. Went to A section billet to hear the R F’s1 band. Returned about 9 o’clock and went to bed.
Received letter from home saying that they had heard from Charlie dated 18th November.
Up at about 7 o’clock. On parade in the morning doing squad drill. Swim before dinner. Pay parade in the afternoon. I swotted a little French. Football match at night between our team and the Lancs brigade. We won 2 – 0. Had walk round with Holman and finished up with eggs at the station cafe with John Dory, Harvey and Holman.
Definite news from Piggy Wood that we are moving in a day or two.
Italians doing well and captured 20,000 prisoners, French over 7,000.
We are fighting very hard round Lens and in front of Ypres1.
“We are fighting very hard . . . in front of Ypres . . .”: this was no doubt a reference to Passchendaele (or the Third Battle of Ypres; see 31 July). Passchendaele (now Passendale) is at (A) on the map. Lens is further south (at B, Michelin square D5), about half-way between Ypres and the Somme battlefield; it had been behind the German line until early 1917, when the Germans withdrew to their Hindenburg Line, thus obtaining a considerably shorter and much more heavily-fortified defensive line, and surrendering the Somme area, Bapaume, Péronne and Noyon. ↩
Up at 7 o’clock. Church parade 9 o’clock. Poor service though it looked very smart. The infantry were in battle order. Wrote letter home in the afternoon. Went to service at night with John Dory and had short walk afterwards. Pretty good service and the singing very good for a small party.
Up at 7 o’clock. Glorious day. Squad drill first thing, then kit inspection by new officer. Went down to the lower part of the stream but the water was too shallow for swimming. After dinner bath parade and a clean change by the stream at the old place. Went to the Follies at night with John Dory. They were very good and much better than before. Received letter from Charlie and one from home and wrote long letter home.
Up at about 7 o’clock. Parade at 9 o’clock and went on with the cleaning up. Parade at 2 o’clock and route march. At night went out with John Dory and read and wrote a bit. Had supper at the Sedan1 Hotel. Got permission to go to Boulogne2 first car.
Sedan: a surprising name? – as Sedan was the scene of the principal French military disaster of the Franco-Prussian War. ↩
ALL evidently planned to visit Ranald MacDonald in hospital at Boulogne. ↩
Up about 7 o’clock. Cleaned up stuff in the panniers until about dinnertime. Went up for a bath before dinner. Worked an hour or so in the afternoon. Went out with John Dory at night. It rained heavily and compelled us to return. Had long talk up the river side. Had some eggs in the farmhouse last thing.
Received letter from Ranald MacDonald saying that he is in hospital at Boulogne slightly gassed.
Up at 6.45. Kept pretty busy all day. Very hot day. Lieutenant Wilson went to C C S and gave me ten francs. Heard of a new slight advance and capture of a few more prisoners. Harvey, John Dory and his brother called for me and we went to the Y M. Gus Rodman also with us. After service walked round the town and then went by the flying ground. Bonny night.
Up at 5.30. A lot of trouble during the night between old Wilson and Merrill. Finished about 7.30. Had breakfast and turned in. Slept until tea time. Went to concert at night in the dining room. Steve Bott, John Dory, Sergeant Cooper and several others including the C.O. and Captain Andrews took part. Gus played and played very well. Pretty busy at night with the officers. Got through all right. Wrote letter to Charlie.