Up about 8 o’clock. Walked to school with Franchie1 and called at Wharnecliffe2 but Whittaker was not there. Called to see Mrs Fore†. I dressed Mr Inwood’s foot and moved off on the car. At station in good time. Left at 1.18. Spent an hour in York and called at the Minster. Arrived home at 6 o’clock and went up to Uncle George’s last thing.
Up about 6 o’clock. Had breakfast at the canteen and paraded early. Crossed by 11 o’clock 1 and arrived in London shortly after 3. Had tea at the Y M hut and left by the 5.302. Came up most of the way with an engineer chap. Arrived at midnight and found Joe and Father waiting for me.
Up about 9 o’clock. Went up to see Mr Eaves1. Wrote to Harvey’s brother and wrote up diary.
[Diary reverts to pencil at this point – obviously written up after ALL’s return to France.]
Sister Annie2 called at night and we had a long argument on men – whether they are as good as parsons think they are or not. She stayed until 7 o’clock. I had supper and then we all went up to the station. I left by the 9.15. †Annie Freeman† at the station to see Teddie Tudor† off but he wasn’t going. †Dee Frere† and Hilda3 there. Called on Granny in the afternoon just after tea. Jack at the station too and Joe.
Left Sunderland 9.15 for Newcastle. Arrived Newcastle about 10 and left again after an hour4. Got good seat in the train.
Edward Eaves was a minister at the South Durham Street United Methodist Free Church. According to the diary, ALL had written to Mr Eaves twice, on 28 December 1916 and 28 May 1917, the latter shortly after Mr Mullens, another minister at the church, had died, presumably to offer condolences. Mr Eaves had officiated at Mr Mullens’ funeral. ↩
The map shows the first part of ALL’s journey back to France, from Sunderland (A) to London (C) on an overnight train, via Newcastle (B). ↩
Up as usual. Walked round the town in the afternoon. Went down to the chapel at night and met a few people including Willie Whittaker senior1.
Willie Whittaker senior was the father of ALL’s friend from chapel, Willie Whittaker junior, whose death is noted retrospectively in the diary entry for 22 October. It is very likely that Willie Whittaker senior did not yet know about the death of his son – ALL himself only found out after his return to France, on 8 November. ↩
Spent day as usual. Met Joe at night and Father. Joe and I went to the Picture House.
Out as usual all day. Played the piano a lot. Uncle George down at night.
News of Italian defeat.
Italian Defeat 1.
The Italian defeat would presumably be Caporetto, also known as the 12th Battle of the Isonzo and the Battle of Karfreit. There had been 5 more battles of the Isonzo since the 6th, referred to in a note on 21 August. Caporetto is reckoned to have lasted from 24 October to 19 November, so 25 October seems a little early for the defeat to have been accepted; but this entry is also one of those added later. Caporetto was probably the biggest single event in the war between Italy and Austria-Hungary, though the latter were aided on this occasion by the Germans, with poison gas. The defeat is a, or the, major event in Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”. The location is now in Slovenia – now named Kobarid. ↩
Up at about 8 o’clock. Spent usual day. Father off in the afternoon and went to the Picture House1 with me where we saw “A Tale of Two Cities”2. Went to Todd’s at night and had a very nice time. A few strange girls3 there.
“The Picture House”: the capitals are the editor’s and are not marked in the shorthand. Was this the Picture House, reputedly the oldest cinema in Sunderland and still operating in the 1940s, or a picture house (possibly the Havelock House again; see 27 December 1915)? ↩
“Strange girls” may sound odd to contemporary ears, but ALL means only that these girls were not previously known to him and not that they were peculiar. ↩
Knocked about town – round new park with Gertie in the afternoon. Called at Aunt Mary’s and little Jack’s. Invited to Jack’s tomorrow.
Willie Whittaker3 killed in action.
“Played” without a direct object generally means “played the piano” or according to context “- the organ”. ↩
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.
Willie Whittaker appears in a photograph accompanying the diary entry for Easter Monday, 1914. See also all diary entries tagged “Willie Whittaker” and William Gaylard Whittaker at Lives of the First World War. ↩