Tag Archives: Sunderland

Diary entries which mention places and events in and around the Sunderland area. See also Sunderland map.

22 October 1917; Monday

Up the town part of the day. At the mill1 in the afternoon and stayed in and played2 at night.

Willie Whittaker3 killed in action.


  1. “The mill”: Hendon Paper Mill, where ALL had been employed as a clerk before volunteering to join the RAMC. See also Sunderland map

  2. “Played” without a direct object generally means “played the piano” or according to context “-­ the organ”. 

  3. The entries from 18 to 29 October are in ink, but the note about Willie Whittaker (of the Chapel family in Sunderland) was added in pencil, obviously later. The diary records that ALL heard of W.’s death only on 8 November (when he was back in France), in a letter from Ernie; presumably W. Whittaker senior (27 October) did not yet know. Among the addresses at the back of the 1917 diary is “Cadet W G Whittaker, 24837, . . 15th Artistes [sic] Rifles O C B, Giden Hall, Romford, Essex”; “Cadet” means “officer-in-training” and O C B is probably Officer Cadet Branch or Base. This appears to mean that W. had consented to become an infantry officer. It is well known that junior infantry officers had by far the highest casualty rate of any rank in WW1. ALL (2 November 1915) says W. joined the 13th [Battalion of the] Yorkshire Regt. where he attained the rank of Serjeant. Lives of the First World War indicates that he subsequently joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, rising to Second Lieutenant by the time of his death. See also William Gaylard Whittaker at Lives of the First World War. 

20 October 1917; Saturday

Up pretty well all night. Got breakfast about 7 o’clock. Went down to boat and moved off from the quay about 9.20. Arrived about midday at Folkestone and London at 4.30. Got 5.30 express and arrived home1 shortly after midnight. Found Joe and Father waiting for me.


  1. “Home” was 47 Eldon Street since 11 February 1915. The map shows ALL’s journey from Boulogne (A) to home (D) via Folkestone (B) and London (C). 

7 April 1916; Friday

Went out with Mother in the morning. Visited Granny and Whittakers and Uncle George and Aunt Mary. Stayed in and played duets all the afternoon. Left by the 6.38. All family to see me off, and Willie Whittaker, Uncle Jack and Hilda1 and Whittaker family. Joe travelled with me to Pallion. Met Shepherd at Durham and travelled by a through train. Got car into city and arrived at barracks about mid night.


  1. See Hilda disambiguation page. 

4 April 1916; Tuesday

Lay in late. Went down to see Ernie. Out with Mother and over the water1 to see the damage done by the Zeppelin raid2. Out late in afternoon. Called at Whittakers3. Called for Ernie at night. Went over with him to Whitburn later. Had photo taken at Eccles’† in Holmeside4.


  1. “over the water”: phrase commonly used by ALL and his contemporaries for “across the Wear to north Sunderland”; nothing to do with the Jacobites. 

  2. “Zeppelin raid”: Presumably the raid on Sunderland of 1 April noted in that day’s diary entry

  3. “Called at Whittakers”: Willie Whittaker‘s family. Willie might not have been there, having enlisted in November 1915, although he was present a few days later. 

  4. Holmeside was (and remains) a shopping street in the middle of Sunderland. Perhaps “Eccles” was a commercial photographer? 

1 April 1916; Saturday

At football match in the afternoon. Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday.

Zeppelin Raid over Sunderland1.

22 killed. 100 injured. Damage to Deptford, and Monk<wearmouth>.2


  1. At about 10pm on the evening of 1 April 1916 German Imperial Navy Zeppelin L11 under the command of Korvettenkapitan Viktor Schutze crossed the coast to attack Tyneside. The defences around the River Tyne had recently been strengthened. Because of this and the prevailing adverse weather conditions, Schutze decided to manoeuvre round and attack the less well protected port of Sunderland

  2. A commemorative clock dedicated to the memory of the victims was recently installed at the Wheatsheaf junction in Monkwearmouth. 

27 December 1915; Monday

Walked round town in the morning. In the afternoon went with Blaikie and Willie to the Victoria Hall pictures, but there was something the matter with the lighting kit. So went on the car to the Mill, but it was closed. Went with Willie and his father to the Havelock House1 new picture house. Very nice place, but picked up several† * from pictures. Alf and Ada to tea and supper – and Aunt Molly, – and played ping pong at night.


  1. “Havelock House”: The Havelock cinema opened on 16th December 1915, only a few days prior to this diary entry, on the former site of  the Havelock House drapery store, itself famously destroyed by fire in 1898 – purportedly the worst fire in the history of the city. The Havelock cinema was still in use well after WWII. It became the Gaumont in 1950 and closed in 1963

26 December 1915; Sunday

At chapel . Mrs Whittaker asked me to take the children’s service for her and I did. Good meeting. I told them a story. Henry Hodgkinson called in the afternoon and I stayed in and talked to him. He is working at Stockton in a drysalter’s store1. Went down to Grandmother’s after service. A big crowd there. She seems a little better than when I saw her last.


  1. Drysalters were dealers in a range of chemical products, including glue, varnish, dye and colourings. They might supply salt or chemicals for preserving food and sometimes also sold pickles, dried meat or related items. 

18 September 1915; Saturday

Arrived home about 12.30 a.m. Didn’t expect me. Charlie and Joe at the station waiting for Ernie. Ernie arrived about half an hour later. Father in bed and didn’t know that we were all here. Got up about 9 o’clock. Telegraphed for an extension until reveille. Went to the office1 and saw them there. Stayed in in the afternoon. Blaikie called and we had a few songs. Went to Grandmother’s later and saw them. Called into town at night and then down to the church. Decorating for the Harvest Festival. Spoke to a good many people.


  1. “The office”: Hendon Paper Mill, where ALL had been employed prior to joining the RAMC. See Sunderland map