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.

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 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. Four men *. 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 * country and asking† 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. A party† 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 those 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.  

30 December 1917; Sunday

Up about 7.30. Woke up by heavy gunfire and German shells bursting near. Heard that the Germans had attacked and taken two lines of trenches. Saw a few German prisoners. On fatigue all day. Went to a C of E service at night and it was very good. Commenced letter to Mr Eaves1 and then had a discussion about war and armies and all the rest of it. Turned in about 11 o’clock. Pulled out again about 12 to go up the line. About 30 of us to go.


  1. Edward Eaves was a minister at the South Durham Street United Methodist Free Church in Sunderland where ALL had been a member before joining the RAMC. See also all diary entries tagged Eaves

27 December 1917; Thursday

On working party again. Stayed at night with Harvey, Holman and Mills and had tea <in> another little dugout. Left about 8 o’clock and came down. Met Mark Jackson, half drunk, and he came into the billet and talked until late. Had good night’s rest.

Received Christmas card from Ranald MacDonald. Big peace rumours. Read account of the official entry into Jerusalem1.


  1. “Official entry into Jerusalem”: Following a long battle, Jerusalem had  fallen to the Allies on 9-10 December 1917. On 11 December 1917, Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby, GCB, GCMG, GCVO (23 April 1861 – 14 May 1936), commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), made his formal entry into Jerusalem on foot through the Jaffa gate, instead of by horse or vehicle, to show his great respect for the holy place.