Tag Archives: Sunderland

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

29 October 1917; Monday

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 at 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. Got5 seat in the train.


  1. 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. 

  2. “Sister Annie” is also named as a mourner at the funeral of Mr Mullens on 23 May 1917. See also note on 28 December 1916

  3. It is unclear which Hilda this may have been. 

  4. 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). 

  5. There is an indeterminate mark in the shorthand between “Got” and “seat”; it could be “no”, but this seems inconsistent with “fairly good journey”, in the 30 October entry. 

27 October 1917; Saturday

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.


  1. 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. 

25 October 1917; Thursday

Out as usual all day. Played the piano a lot. Uncle George down at night.

News of Italian defeat.

Italian Defeat 1.


  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. 

24 October 1917; Wednesday

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.


  1. “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)? 

  2. A Tale of Two Cities: Presumably the 1917 silent version released by Fox Film Corporation, directed by Frank Lloyd and starring William Farnum, Jewel Carmen and Charles Clary

  3. “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. 

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.

    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. 

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).