Tag Archives: Willie Whittaker

Diary entries which mention Willie Whittaker, a friend of Arthur Linfoot from South Durham Street Chapel. Willie Whittaker enlisted in the 13th Battalion of the Yorkshire regiment in November 1915, rising to the rank of Second Lieutenant (by then serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers) by the time of his death, which is recorded in October 1917.

26 November 1918; Tuesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Went to Mr Eaves1 in the morning and talked to him a long while. Enjoyed the talk. Went to the mill2 in the afternoon. Mrs Whittaker3 a bit upset. Played piano.


  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

  2. The mill: Hendon Paper Works, where ALL had been employed prior to joining up. 

  3. Mrs Whittaker: Possibly Agnes Whittaker, mother of ALL’s friend Willie Whittaker, who had been killed in action on 22 October 1917

8 November 1917; Thursday

Up about 7 o’clock. On parade at 9 o’clock. Helped to pack in the morning. Got pass to Bailleul in the afternoon but Ernie didn’t turn up there so I only went into Locre. Returned in good time.

Heard of the death of Willie Whittaker 1 in a letter from Ernie.


  1. ALL also recorded this in a note added to his diary on the date of Willie Whittaker’s death, 22 October 1917

Sunderland Daily Echo 8 November 1917

ROLL OF HONOUR

newspaper image
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

WHITTAKER – – Killed in action October 22nd1, 1917 aged 22 years, 2nd-Lieut, William Gaylard Whittaker2, Northumberland Fusiliers, dearly loved son of William and Agnes Whittaker.


  1. See ALL’s retrospective note of W’s death on 22 October – coincidentally, the news actually reached ALL on 8 November, the same day that W’s name appeared in this Roll of Honour in the Sunderland Daily Echo. 

  2. See also: William Gaylard Whittaker at Lives of the First World War. 

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. 

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. 

16 July 1916; Sunday

Up at 7 o’clock. Still standing by and no church service. Rumours of Germans’ retreat up the line. Wrote to Willie Whittaker. Fine morning. Service in the field in the afternoon but it rained and so we stopped before the sermon.

Rained a bit at night. Wrote letter home in reply to one received and also to Willie Whittaker and Franchie Inwood. Went to bed early at night. Lay awake with toothache, but generally slept well.

1 killed and 9 wounded of the 57 Ambulance at La Boisselle.

7 April 1916; Friday

Went out with Mother in the morning. Visited Granny and Whittakers and Uncle George and Aunt Mary. Stayed in and played duets all the afternoon. Left by the 6.38. All family to see me off, and Willie Whittaker, Uncle Jack and Hilda1 and Whittaker family. Joe travelled with me to Pallion. Met Shepherd at Durham and travelled by a through train. Got car into city and arrived at barracks about mid night.


  1. See Hilda disambiguation page. 

5 April 1916; Wednesday

Visited Grandmother, Whittakers’1 and Jack’s. Mr Dill’s funeral in the afternoon and I went over to see it with Ernie. Met George Crawford2 who was in the procession. Climbed Ernie’s backyard wall to get in. Ernie took my photo3. Down to chapel at night and saw Mr Blott, Arthur Mullens, Billy and Edie and a few more.

Arthur Linfoot in Uniform
Photograph of ALL in uniform, with lance-corporal’s stripe, seated in a back yard; undated, but possibly taken while on embarkation leave, April 1916.
Ernie Linfoot in Arthur Linfoot's Uniform
Photograph of Ernie, ALL’s elder brother, apparently wearing ALL’s uniform and seated in the same back yard, possibly taken on the same day.

  1. “Whittakers'”: Willie Whittaker‘s family. Willie might not have been there, having enlisted in November 1915, although he was present a few days later. 

  2. George Crawford: a colleague of ALL from the Hendon Paper Mill, still working there as late as the 1950s. 

  3. While apparently taken in a back yard, there is no other evidence to suggest that the photograph of ALL accompanying this entry (top) is the one taken by Ernie on this day although a very similar photograph of Ernie himself (bottom) also exists in a family collection. See also Family page

4 April 1916; Tuesday

Lay in late. Went down to see Ernie. Out with Mother and over the water1 to see the damage done by the Zeppelin raid2. Out late in afternoon. Called at Whittakers3. Called for Ernie at night. Went over with him to Whitburn later. Had photo taken at Eccles’† in Holmeside4.


  1. “over the water”: phrase commonly used by ALL and his contemporaries for “across the Wear to north Sunderland”; nothing to do with the Jacobites. 

  2. “Zeppelin raid”: Presumably the raid on Sunderland of 1 April noted in that day’s diary entry

  3. “Called at Whittakers”: Willie Whittaker‘s family. Willie might not have been there, having enlisted in November 1915, although he was present a few days later. 

  4. Holmeside was (and remains) a shopping street in the middle of Sunderland. Perhaps “Eccles” was a commercial photographer?