Tag Archives: War

Diary entries which mention aspects of the war (other than naval and aerial warfare, which are separately tagged) which ALL noted but in which he had no direct involvement.

26 June 1918; Wednesday

Up about 7.30 and spent most of the day preparing the hospital at the Salle de Reunion. Fine day. Good news in the papers. The Italians have driven back the Austrians, affairs in Austria are pretty serious, Lloyd George speaks of the possibility of Russia re-joining the allies and Kuhlmann1 made a reasonable speech.


  1. Richard von Kühlmann (1873 – 1948): in German London embassy 1908 – 1914; negotiated Brest-Litovsk Treaty with revolutionary Russia, and Treaty of Bucharest with Romania, which Ludendorff considered gave inadequate guarantees on Eastern frontier; briefly German Foreign Secretary, said in Reichstag (July 1918) that the War could not be ended by arms alone; speech ‘misinterpreted’ by the Generals, had to resign. 

25 June 1918; Tuesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Told after morning parade to go on the advance party. Went off in car about 10.30 to Fleurs1 – a pretty village. Got a good billet. The men who made the disturbance up for trial and got pretty well off. Better news in the paper. The Italians have done well and the River Piave flooded and helped them2. The rough men in the billet had a lot to say through drinking too much watered wine.


  1. Fleurs: very clearly written, but actually Pleurs (B), 14km S from Broussy-le-Petit (A) across the N4; Michelin map 515, square D10. 

  2. The Second Battle of the Piave River, fought between 15 and 23 June 1918, was a decisive victory for the Italian Army against the Austro-Hungarian Empire 

16 June 1918; Sunday

Up about 7 o’clock. Paraded at 9. Not much to do. Read a good lot of Wells’ “Passionate Friends”1 and wrote home and to Charlie. Received letter from home. Not much in the news. Our Divisional band played in the village in the afternoon and in the evening an Italian band played splendidly. Had walk with Holman at night. Quite a †new life† with this place. Saw the girl I spoke to a few days ago2. Some bonny kiddies in the town. The troops of four armies in the crowd. Heard that Austrians had attacked on the Italian front.


  1. “[The] Passionate Friends”: 1913 novel by H G Wells. ALL had started to read this book a few days earlier, on 10 June. See also The Passionate Friends and Arthur Linfoot’s Library

  2. ALL did not record his earlier meeting with this girl in his diary. 

25 April 1918; Thursday

Up about 7 o’clock. Busy in hospital all day. Received orders in the afternoon to pack up and stand by. Many rumours in from the line.

Heard of attack on Zeebrugge1.


  1. The Zeebrugge raid, with the simultaneous smaller raid on Ostend, took place on 23/24 April and was intended to prevent German access into the North Sea for blockade and military/naval purposes. It was approved in February 1918, but originally suggested by Admiral Fisher in 1917, partly as an attempt to outflank the Western Front (allegedly related to the Passchendaele campaign.) The Zeebrugge element was largely ineffective, mainly due to failure of the smoke screen and consequent failure of the main warship to get to the right place and silence the shore batteries, with the result that the concrete-laden blockships did not get into the harbour. The Ostend attack failed totally, as the British warships did not even reach the harbour entrance. Nevertheless, the raid was presented to the British public as a great achievement and 8 Victoria Crosses were awarded. 

17 April 1918; Wednesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Did practically nothing all day. A tremendous lot of French troops about. Heard that we are holding our own. The Germans shelled Westouter in the morning and our people had <been> shelled out of the convent. Some civilians killed and wounded. A very hot time for the people in the town. Some of our bearers went up again at night.

1 April 1918; Monday

Spent most of day packing waggons and overhauling equipment. Went out at night to Westoutre1. Over main road. Called at Johnny’s and had custard and coffee. Fine night. News from the Somme slightly better.


  1. Westoutre: Westouter (B) 3km NW. of Locre (A); Michelin square I3. 

26 March 1918; Tuesday

Up at 6 o’clock and marched off about 6.30. Arrived (after passing through civilised country and seeing civilians) at Bienvillers 1 at about noon and had breakfast. Received orders to move on immediately, and arrived at the cross roads near Humbercourt 2 about 3 pm. All property† left on the way. Put up tents and marquee and flags and opened up dressing station. News from the front still bad. Saw newspaper in which it said the Germans claimed 30000 prisoners and 600 guns. Still no relief. On night duty.


  1. Bienvillers: Bienvillers-au-Bois (B), 6km N. of Hébuterne (A), Michelin square H6. 

  2. Humbercourt: ?Humbercamps (C), 4km W. from B.-au-Bois; Michelin square H6. 

21 March 1918; Thursday

[Page headedGerman Offensive1.]

Up about 6 o’clock. Lay awake from 3.30 listening to a very heavy bombardment. Thought attack must be coming next. On duty at 7 o’clock. A little friction on the bed-patient washing problem. Received orders first thing to clear all bed patients and all other patients to be dressed and ready to move. Later on received orders to pack waggons, and again later that we were not going. Ben taken off the ward in the afternoon. Glorious day. Gunfire very heavy all day.


  1. This German offensive, aka “The Spring Offensive“, “The Kaiser’s Battle” (die Kaiserschlacht) and “The March Retreat”, was the last German attempt to win the war in the West before (a) the Allied blockade would make the Germans’ military and domestic situation logistically untenable, and (b) the arrival of American troops in France could make a critical impact. The initial scene of the offensive was north and south of St Quentin, some 40km east of the Somme battlefield, against the British 3rd and 5th Armies, the latter of which especially had had its section of the front extended to relieve the French army, and both of which had undergone thinning-out to offset manpower losses (the British Government by now was restricting reinforcements for Haig, partly due to industrial and reserve manpower needs in Britain, but also, rightly or wrongly, to prevent him from attempting further offensives at huge human cost.)

    Malcolm Brown, in “The Imperial War Museum Book of the Western Front”, says that “The March offensive . . . made use of . . . means [including] surprise achieved by marshalling men and matériel to the front by night; deep infiltration before zero hour by storm-troop groups who bypassed front-line defenders leaving them to be dealt with by subsequent waves; and a concentrated, devastating bombardment on all key points of the British resistance, including headquarters establishments, dumps, magazines, even individual guns.” The attack was also assisted by fog at the vital time.

    There were further German onslaughts in the following weeks, re-taking a lot of the ground which had been gained since 1916 at the cost of great British and French losses. But: much of the ground regained, eg the Somme/Ancre area, was difficult to fight on due to previous devastation, including the Germans’ own mining, trenching, tank traps etc; at long last (26 March) Allied unity of command (under General Foch) was accepted by Haig and established; and in August there was a well-planned Allied counter-attack, integrating all kinds of troops, weaponry, air and communications resources, and achieving massive troop movements in complete secrecy.