Up at about 7 o’clock. Kept busy all day. Off in the afternoon and went to the Church Army reading room and read two short stories from a magazine. On duty at night and did some French. Lay awake and talked to Freddie about churches and festivals of the church year.
Rumours of the Division going out and of the ambulance moving.
Although the diary is silent on the matter, 6th August 1917 was the day on which ALL’s Sheffield barracks friend, Ralph Kenyon Sandwith, was killed in action near Kemmel in Belgium.
The images here are of a postcard sized portrait of RKS which exists in ALL’s collection. The front is signed “Ralph K. Sandwith” and the back has an address in Louth, RKS’ home address presumably written by RKS himself, and a note in ALL’s hand about the date of the photograph (1915) and the circumstances of Sandwith’s death (at Kemmel in 1917). Private Sandwith was about 21 years old at the time of his death, and 19 years old at the time of the photograph.
Up at 6 o’clock. Got ready for the march. Fine morning. Arrived at Mont des Cats12 at about 1 o’clock. Very hot on the march and the heavy bank at the end nearly did us all in. A splendid place. An old priory or something of the sort with monks in it. A very large place. Watched view from the top. Had dinner and then went to our billets upstairs. On night duty. Went on at 7.30. Old Sergeant Wilson incensed†. Didn’t get down to bed at all. Took officer’s temperature. Sat in easy chairs to sleep.
Mont des Cats (B): 12km W. of La Clytte/Klijte (A), Michelin squares H3/I3. ↩
ALL brought home a postcard (image above) from his 1935 tour of his battlefields showing the Abbey at Mont des Cats, with a note that he had lived there for a week. Interestingly, the name “Mont des Cats” had been neatly excised from the card, presumably during WW1 for security reasons – but the card must still have been in the shop’s stock in 1935. ↩
Up about 7.30. Helped in the ward a bit. Packed up things and moved off shortly after dinner. I rode with two divisional patients as bus-man in the first car and the others marched. Arrived about 2 kilometres from Albert1. The M.G.C.2 man and I walked to a Y.M. hut but we got nothing to eat so had some tea. Waited by the fire until about 6 o’clock when the rest came up. Slept in a tent† and had a good night.
The Brickfields, an old brick factory on the outskirts of Albert, was used as a large billeting area by Allied troops. Its close proximity to Albert and the front line made it an ideal position for soldiers to stay in makeshift shelters for short periods of time. The Photograph – ‘Brickfields near Albert’ – is from Museum Victoria and not from ALL’s archive. ↩
Lazy first thing and not very fit. Church parade at 9 o’clock in the “dining hall”. Nice little service. First time under cover since I left Rouen. Received another parcel from home and a letter from Charlie enclosing photographs of himself on a camel. Had walk at night. Beautiful weather.
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 Mullens, Billy and Edie and a few more.
George Crawford: a colleague of ALL from the Hendon Paper Mill, still working there as late as the 1950s. ↩
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. ↩
Paraded at 12 o’clock and left Sheffield by the 1.40 train for Alnwick. Travelled first-class from York to Newcastle. Had the company of Sergeant-Major Ford all the way. Arrived at Alnwick at about 7 o’clock. The sergeant and a corporal met us and marched us to the rest camp. Had cold water and jam and bread. Got our hut hay selected and our beds.
The only WW1 Army camp known (in 2013) to the staff at Alnwick’s Bailiffgate Museum was on The Pastures on the N. bank of the Aln facing Alnwick Castle, which is indicated on the map above; photos show the Northumberland Fusiliers there in bell-tents. ALL’s photos show wooden huts; there would have been room for these on The Pastures site, though perhaps there was a separate R.A.M.C. camp. See also Alnwick map. ↩
The photograph, from Bill M on Flickr and not from ALL’s own archive, shows the wooden huts of the miltary hospital on the Pastures site at Alnwick, c. 1916. ↩
Had breakfasts at 7 o’clock. Welsh Party left at about 7.30. Charlie came in the afternoon. Had photos taken1and then spent most of the night at Inwoods’ singing and playing. Stayed until late & Charlie was locked out of S. [Soldiers’] Home & had to sleep in Guard Room.
The photo accompanying this diary entry is a postcard, posted on 7 September 1915 to ALL’s mother, with a message saying he was now a lance-corporal. It may be one of those taken on 4th September. ↩
Got up about 8 o’clock. Went up and met the two Willies1 with Charlie. Car to Sea Lane. Walked to Marsden. Willie took some photos2. Had lunch at Marsden and walked on up the banks to Shields3. Came back in the train. Heard 9 bands at South Shields. A drunken man in the train. Got back shortly before 3. I read a good bit and played. Went out again at night. Walked to Roker.
At Marsden & Shields.
“The two Willies”: Presumed to be Willie Marshall and Willie Whittaker. ↩
The photograph accompanying this entry appears to be one of those taken by “Willie” on that day (presumed to be Willie Marshall and explaining his absence from the scene). The cliffs in the background would be recognisable by anyone familiar with Marsden today. The photograph was probably taken somewhere near point (A) on the map. See also Sunderland map. ↩
Shields: South Shields (B on the map), a coastal town on the south side of the mouth of the River Tyne, about 3 miles up the cost from Marsden. There is also a North Shields on the north side. ↩