Tag Archives: War

22 May 1917; Tuesday

Up at about 6.50. On duty as usual. Kept fairly busy. Off at night and went to the Pierrots. They were fairly good but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have done concerts. With Gus Rodman and Dai Davies. Went to bed late as usual. A lot of guns1 going up the line.


  1. “A lot of guns”: this was in preparation for the Battle of Messines Ridge, which began on 7 June with the detonation of 19 mines of unprecedented size under the German lines (2 more are still there, unexploded.) On this occasion, the artillery barrage did not begin until the mines were blown, so that the Germans had no warning of the attack, which took place immediately after a comparatively short but intense bombardment. Apparently the Germans had not picked up any signs of the impending attack, though it seems from ALL’s diary that artillery movements were there to be seen.

    Passchendaele, or the 3rd Battle of Ypres, which began on 31 July, followed Messines Ridge, and besides its quasi-political objective (to relieve the French army, by then suffering from mutinies following the failure of Nivelle’s attack of mid-April – 9 May in the Reims/Chemin des Dames area and the associated British attack at Arras), it was intended at least to capture the higher ground to the south and east of Ypres, from which the Ypres salient was constantly threatened, and possibly to enable the capture of the Belgian sea-ports. The front line ran in an approximate semi-circle round the east side of Ypres, and from the southern point of this the Messines Ridge ran further southward. 

19 May 1917; Saturday

Up at 6.40. Kept busy all day. Stayed in at night and helped with dinner. Wrote some letters. A lot of guns going up the line1. Rumours of Russia turning it in2 and the war being over soon3.


  1. “A lot of guns…”: This movement of guns (and troops) is noted over a period of several more days. See note on 22 May

  2. “Turning it in” (if this reading is correct; it seems an early date for this colloquialism) means withdrawing from or abandoning some endeavour. 

  3. Revolutionary Russia did eventually withdraw from the war in October/November 1917, having been increasingly disorganised in its war efforts after the February Revolution of 1917, the rumour of which ALL had noted in his diary on 18 March, but sadly the war was not over soon. 

4 May 1917; Friday

Commenced work again 5.0. o’clock. Had bath first thing after breakfast. Went to bed and stayed there until after dinner. Had late dinner and lay down again. Went into grounds after tea and read and tea and did a bit of French. Glorious night.

Rumours that the British have had a nasty setback.

15 April 1917; Sunday

Up at 6 o’clock and went up the line on the dugout fatigue. Rained heavily all day and we returned at dinner time after simply unlocking a waggon of stuff. Good news in the papers about the advance at Arras.

Went to service at the Y M at night and played1 for a short while afterwards. Had serious talk with Harvey and felt better after it.


  1. “Played”: Not a game but a keyboard instrument of some sort; a piano or organ if such was available in the YM. 

9 April 1917; Monday

Up at 8 o’clock. Practically nothing to do all day. Wrote letter to Ernie. Received letter and parcel from home. Cold day and a few showers of snow. Read some of “Villette.”1 The man badly wounded in the arm2 died tonight. I felt a bit * as is Captain Strickland.

Vimy Ridge captured by the British.

Sat† at *.


  1. Villette: a novel by Charlotte Brontë. See also Arthur Linfoot’s Library

  2. “The man badly wounded in the arm”; possibly the unnamed man mentioned on 7 April as having a cut artery? 

18 March 1917; Sunday

Mooned about until 2 o’clock. Came back to the billet and roused * house. Up at 6.30. Cleaned up ready for parade. Dull morning. Marched off about 11 o’clock. Passed through Hazebrouck1 and saw the people going out of the big church. Sat by the roadside and had tea served up. Arrived at Outersteene2 about 4.30. Decent village and good billet. Went out with Holman and had eggs and chips. Supposed to finish guard but didn’t go on it. Had short walk in the direction of Meteren3. Four of our chaps went into Méteren. Turned in early. Had meat and tinned tongue for supper. 22 kilos. Heard rumour of Bapaume being captured and revolt in Russia4.


  1. Hazebrouck (B): 11km NE. of Boësighem (A); Michelin square H3. 

  2. Outersteene (C): Outtersteene is 10km E. of Hazebrouck, 5km SW. of Bailleul (D), Michelin square I3. 

  3. Meteren (E): Méteren is 6km NNE. of Outtersteene, 5km W. of Bailleul (D); also Michelin square I3. 

  4. The February revolution in Russia had started on 8 March 1917 (23 February in the Julian calendar). 

28 February 1917; Wednesday

Up at 7 o’clock. Shaved and dressed and went to tent. Had paste egg1 for breakfast. Posted letter to Charlie. Expecting 400 to [figure omitted?] wounded soldiers.

The papers tells [sic] us of the capture of Serre, Pys, Miraumont2 etcetera. 2 mile advance on 12 mile front – also capture of Kut- el-Amam3.


  1. “Paste egg”: North-Eastern English vernacular for hard boiled egg. Paste eggs were usually decorated and were associated with Easter although this particular paste egg would have been neither. 

  2. Miraumont (A) and Pys (B) are 5km and 7km respectively E. of Serre (C; Michelin square I7); Pys is 3km NW of the D929 from Albert to Bapaume, and only 7km from the latter. 

  3. Possibly a reference to the second battle of Kut

27 February 1917; Tuesday

Up at usual time. Papers mention the capture of Serre & village beyond1.

Rumoured capture of Kut-el-Amam2.

Walked to Lealvillers but found no concert there. Bought some things and walked to the little cocoa house and had some biscuits and cocoa. Went to bed fairly early and slept well. Wrote long letter home. Had tent crowded out at night.


  1. See 25 February

  2. Possibly a reference to the second battle of Kut

25 February 1917; Sunday

Busy all day. M O called round twice† and rumour of the evacuation of Serre1. All sorts of news going round all day. Went to service at night at the Y M C A.


  1. Serre (C): Michelin square I7, about halfway between Gommecourt (A) and Thiepval (B) and 12km E of Acheux-en-Amiénois (D). This was evacuation by the Germans. See the Capture of Serre at The Accrington Pals and Serre at World War One battlefields.