Reginald Hall East Yorkshire Regiment 1918 War Diary

This diary opens with this rather poignant inscription, quite unlike the earlier diaries…

56355 R. D. Hall
Next of kin
Mrs R. D. Hall
c/o Mr W. H. Hart
Sutton – on – Hull
Friend – please forward to above address – many thanks

April 1918

Saturday 6th 

I found God’s house and entered. Therein I humbly prayed and peace came to me. Often lately have I prayed for safety and peace. There has been borne into my mind the conviction that the home prayers have been salvation to me and that in ways I do not know, they are efficacious.

Increasingly though I find that faith and religion are supreme necessities in this life, that without, nought but a shell would be left of life. Above and following extracts written in the wood bordering the path and light railway overlooking the landscape outside Hornoy.

Sunday 7th 

It is a most glorious morning. Here I am sat in something like the environment I love. After the nightmare of the last fortnight this is indeed Heaven. The friendly warmth of the sun, the gently caressing breezes bathe me in an atmosphere entirely angelical so that as I look around at the now budding trees and the landscape below me I am filled with thankfulness.

My soul awakens in spiritual fervour and desires to link with God. Oh so helpless have I been so weak and so cowardly. I have felt in very isolation yet the whole time intense desire has fired me to be in peace. What agony of mind has been mine of necessity I have had to seek God’s house and the quietness of his chamber in which to calm the surging of my soul?

Yea and I found it, to my being came the peace that passeth understanding but the thing that seems so utterly beyond me is to be able to carry this to the battlefield and to allow it there to reign supremely of surety this is of things the most difficult.

Monday 8th 

A very dull and rainy day, a poor dinner. Verey Lights performing tonight but I did not go. Instead I went to the Church and spent some precious moments in meditation. There were many women in the Church and in their tones as they prayed I could detect agonization for country and kin.

The twilight shadows had fallen and the amber glow from the candles split into prismatic hues as it fell on the pendant glass. In this solemn hour I was near to God and through my reverend mind came one by one all those hymns and spiritual songs of childhood days.

After a few moments I left the Church and walked through the cemetery back to the town. On night duty Shally rang up and said Hilda was worrying about me and asked if I had written home. This of course I had done.

Tuesday 9th 

Wrote again to Hilda and to Smallholders Association.

Wednesday 10th

Up very early. Today we have a very long march. Set off at 8.20am. The French are taking over this town (Hornoy) and we have to leave the whole area. The country was very flat and on places so undulating that for miles and miles around there was a fine view.

A violent bombardment that had raged all night and still continued caused me apprehension and no little wonder as to its portents. Later I found that it originated with the French who had driven the Germans back a little.

Our march continued until 1.30pm. We had now done 18km. Bully beef and bread was served but the great need was a cup of much desired tea. 2pm saw us once more on the road, rather gladly than otherwise for there was a chill wind blowing.

About 5pm we arrived at our stopping place for the night. Here we got some free cider and a good billet. Everyone was very tired and as tomorrow will bring a further long march we retired early.

Thursday 11th 

Reveille at 6am. Breakfast 7.30am. Fall in 8am and marched away. All the boys were more or less tired especially the infantry. Those poor lads one could only feel internal pity for. So young they were so very foot sore and I doubt not heart sore being so newly out from England. They stuck it well too. What times we live in!

The Germans have struck a blow towards the Channel ports and made some progress. We can look back to Armada times and be moved but it causes us apprehension. On the contrary this critical moment of our history is but the present and the future is yet uncertain it may be an Armada or it may be a Hastings, which no one can say – as we neared our journeys end the country grew more interesting, there were some larger cleaner villages and the signs told us of the coast’s approach.

A lighthouse appeared, then to the left a stretch of coast sea front, a mile further on we were stepping smartly and singing down the hill with its villas into Ault a charming seaside resort and to us a very heaven.

After a cleanup I went to the beach and the scene reminded me of Whitby and honeymoon days. Very tall and upright were the cliffs and white as Dover’s. I chatted with some refugees from Paris for a few moments and lifted over a stream the little boy.

To the left of Ault there are cliffs for a short distance but after that the coast is as flat as our Holderness shores, stretching away in much the same manner. There is a resemblance to in the beach hereabouts to the pebble ridge of Westward Ho Devonshire. To the north from the cliffs could see the mouth of the Somme and the fairly large ton at the mouth – the rocks strewn limpet covered beach reminded me very much of Robin Hood’s bay.

Thrice today have I heard the remark longingly made. So near yet so far. This referring to the strip of channel waters twixt here and dear old England.

Friday 12th 

A very good night’s rest on the mattress in our neat little room in the Hotel De France.

Up at 6.45am cleaned the room and ourselves had breakfast, paraded at 9.30am and dismissed.

I went to the beach where I found it was high tide. Very few folk were about. Fanny led me to climb the southern cliff and there a little distance from Ault I sat and watched the calm ocean, sat in the warm sun and under an almost cloudless blue sky.

Dotted here and there on the sea were the white sailed fishing boats picturesque and suggestive of peace and industry. Near the purple and misty horizon the black bombs trails of smoke betokened many a steamer. There where England should be were the low white sunlit clouds that might in very truth have been Albion’s cliffs themselves.

The gulls wheeled and whistled, the distant strain of a siren reached my ears but save these all was silence. War, there was nothing to suggest and would to God it will really so for this will go well towards creating in me a nostalgia a revulsion next this madness of mankind.

On returning from this walk I met a boy, a French refugee who took me to his family. I had dinner with them. They were from Chaulnes. The boy did not seem very bright and I fancy his invitation of me was not altogether pleasing to his people. For in the evening when I called I found most of them out and sensed the atmosphere as not entirely inviting – and just withdrew.

A little later I met Sergeant Fowler in the street. He told me to at once report to 59 Brigade with kit. This was a bitter blow especially coming at this late hour and with 6km to walk. Never have I felt so heartbroken or so bitter. After all the hard work, the intense marching to be denied the rest, the content which this beautiful place had brought me was annihilating.

I had come back to the sea with all the gratitude of a satisfied homing instinct. I had smelt the keen salt air, heard the gentle surge of the rolling tide, its murmurings a lulling to sleep, an invitation to forget, and now all at an end. As I climbed the steep hill out of the village two of the Somerset Light Infantry boys of the draft from England stopped me and offered to carry my kit. A kindly thought and an appreciated one.

Gazing back to take a last look at a loved and endeared place I saw what only the more realised it forever imprinted on my heart and mind. The sky was a flaming orange, the sea a deep glorious sapphire blue whilst above were the evening stars and the crescent moon – so near and yet so far, beyond the blue water of the channel was England my home where my heart longed to be. Regretfully I turned away with almost a lump in my throat.

Saturday 13th 

Last night I laid my bed with Jessop who kindly shared his things with me. It was a hard floor though. This morning I was on at 8am. It was quiet, the day was dull and cold and uninviting. In the evening I went for a short walk and sat under a bank sheltering from the wind. It was subtly and inexpressibly depressing and my spirit was weighed heavily down.

I read a few tales from Jack London’s book “Tales of the South Seas”. At 9pm I went on duty. We made a good fire and got down about midnight.

Sunday 14th 

After breakfast the lorry came round with Brigade reliefs Oliver and H. Thompson relieving us. For some hours we stayed out at Ault but under a dull sky it was not the same place. Arrived at Gamaches which seems a fairly large decent place with good shops. The billet is poor mostly an open barn. I agreed to sleep with Harrison. Yet it was still cold as there was little straw underneath.

Monday 15th 

Doing fatigues in the morning at the stables. Off it in the afternoon. Went to a café in the evening with Harrison. It appears our people at SVC are very much worried and upset about me. I think Pa-in-law even wired to the OC. Tonight I got some straw and we slept much more comfortably being much warmer.

Tuesday 16th 

On parade but no fatigues. At 6pm held for guard over a corporal but released at 7pm as am detailed for duty at 9pm. Jeffrey came on about 11pm and took first down.

Wednesday 17th

Washed and cleaned and had a rest. Similarly so in the afternoon. I heard through Shally that Hilda had got my letter, first for three weeks. Today I got a parcel from her.

On duty at 5pm. It seems we are to move very shortly in buses. We must pray that our arms have success so far the Germans seem to make progress and our souls are being tried on by fire.

Sunday 21st 

8am – 1pm duty. Rimmington, Harrison and I went to the Canadian YMCA at Aubigny and spent an hour there afterwards returning. It was a splendid clear day. Tea was at 4pm. Cleaned myself and then walked to Moreuil to service. This conducted by Rev. Barry who had come to pay a visit. The service was in the schoolroom a small place. About twenty were present. There was no music but the singing was devout and hearty and I was greatly uplifted and spiritually comforted. I stayed the communion.

9pm I took duty and wrote letters till 3.30am then getting down. It seems the Germans are held.

Monday 22nd 

After night duty I cleaned myself and shaved I also posted letters to Hilda and mother. This done I found Corporal Goddard and enquired after my ring. I had given him this to send home before we marched back to Division into action again.

He told me with regret that his own kit had been lost when the General’s car was hit by a shell so that my ring has gone. This is the second one lost. The first I lost in the sea at Spurn nearly ten years ago on a night bathe.

Tuesday 23rd

Hereabouts received a reply from Smallholders Association. Their schemes are in abeyance, but there seems a possibility that SHA may be able to offer something interesting and profitable.

Wednesday 24th – Monday 29th  (inclusive)

Days in the office, leisure spent in walking, visiting Aubigny in the church and listening to the organ. Many of the happy hours I have spent in the fine little church listening to the sacred strains and being subdued to devotional attitude in the mystic dimness of the interior. Rich colours of the stained glass awakened the deepest and remotest stirrings of poetical and spiritual instincts.

The Countess De Florimonde gave very free concert to the use of the organ. I have written to Rev. G Black enclosing letter to mother and Hilda only to be delivered under remote necessity

Tuesday, April 30th 1918

After many critical days, the situation is a little eased for the moment. More breakaways will undoubtedly occur but faith in victory is rising. God knows that when victory does come I shall be most devotedly thankful in the most sincere sense.

May 1918

Thursday 2nd 

Travelled by lorry to Villers Au Bois. It is a quiet place, in front is the famous Vimy Ridge. We relieve the Canadians. On duty all night.

Friday 3rd 

A very busy night I got down at 4.20am. Cleaned up in the morning and then walked to a ridge covered with bushes. Read the Hull paper and afterwards the booklet on prayer. This is a great book, inspiring and faith giving. There was never anything more devotional than the prayers therein contained. They answer to my needs and experience.

Saturday 4th

Had a walk this morning. On at 1pm. Busy afternoon. Military operations quiet after the great repulse of the Ypres attack. More will follow but I have faith in God, our cause and allied armies. Evening took Exton to supper and afterwards had a kick with football.

Sunday 5th 

Last night came near to a descent from the spiritual but maintained the level ultimately for which I am thankful. Otherwise how should I face this holy day of Sunday with a clean conscience or dare to approach God in the evening’s service which I hope to attend. Grant O God in all thy mercy and power to keep me clean before thee so that I can meet Thee in communion unsoiled countenance and happy face.

Monday 6th 

After night duty wrote home and walked to the bushes on the hill. Here I sat on a tree stump in the gathering sunshine, the budding and developing greenery all around and the unceasing exquisite song of the birds.

Oh my God I come to Thee, resolved to lay hold of Thee, to have Thy companionship. Let all the evil conversations the lusts of mind and body roll away and leave only a pure soul. Let me cling to Thee as a limpet to the rock. Give me strength to maintain myself in all that may come. Let no sudden assault surprise and lay low the citadel of my soul but ever do Thou be the Keeper of the gate swift to repel all that threatens fellowship with Thee.

Quick to succour in times of distress and weakness. Most sincerely do I thank Thee for the felt blessings which I have received for the companionship that has been mine, the refuge that Thou hast been to me. As I have embarked with Thee grant that I may not desert but ever with Thee remain.

Tuesday 7th 

After duty went by lorry to Chateau de la Haie 2km away. This is situate in a fine wood, statues here and there. In YMCA and all that makes comfort. On duty all night.

Wednesday 8th 

Went to the Verey Lights in the evening. Weather’s fine, the fresh greenness of the trees reminds me of Ytres last year and the happy times there. Those memories so dear will scarcely bear recalling. So happy so full of mystic meaning to me what the pleasure is of recall almost pain. I am limp with the happy memories. In them I would live, but know I am conscious that there is a future to be faced.

A very stern future that will need all my strength of mind and will to meet. Therefore I must inhibit wilfully too much thought on the past and must concentrate on the future.

Thursday 9th

As the Americans would say “much wind is up”. The Germans are concentrating and evidently mean to attack here. I say we have the wind up, perhaps it would be better to say there is a stir abroad of preparation to meet whatever “Fritz may send”.

I think we shall meet him with determination so that at least he will have no easy task. God grant us his help in our endeavours for home and country. We sent gas over his lines at midnight. Oh the pity of all this slaughter. Lives cut off from all great planning all schemes of the future, all intercourse with the dearly beloved.

But – if we gave not the sacrifice what would England be, what of our dear wives, mothers and children? What pictures come at imaginations call? Ah no these horrors shall never be. Rather we face the enemy be a barrier betwixt home and they would be violators of our happy country.

It saddens me I would rather be at peace and in fellowship with mankind. I would that the sun shone down on the countryside quiet, peaceful industrious. I would that the shores of our isle were lapped by the tides of the sea wherein no odious under sea menace lurked. I would that the golden sands were bright with happy faces laughter singing through the fresh keen air and through all and between all that sense of love and comradeship always so evident on our seaside holidays.

Friday 10th 

The evolution of a soul, of my soul! What is the effect of my past two month’s experience, am I different?

If so, is that difference an advancement or a retrogression? I think, I hope it is not the latter. More determination, more willingness to sacrifice, more fearlessness, more spiritual courage.

These I pray for Oh Lord. Ah God yes how sincerely I. It has not been given to me to be born a natural hero but nevertheless for me to be an Englishman is not impossible. Shall not be impossible.

When comes the trial if comes it does may I be not then found wanting. May those high ideals, may the alliance I have with God prove all sufficient to strengthen and fortify me.

Saturday 11th 

8-2 – 9pm. I won the toss so got all night off.

Sunday 12th 

About 2am came over with great shivering and difficult breathing. 8am I asked for the MO who came and examined. Spent a dismal painful day in bed. Again visited by the MO in the evening.

Monday 13th 

MO visited me and said I had to be taken to the 60 Field Ambulance.

Admitted with PUO and put on a milk diet. In a large Nissen hut. The weather is very fine and warm. From now to the 19th each day but a repetition of another.

Sunday 19th 

Sent by ambulance car to 30 CCS rest station. The place is beyond Saint Pol-sur-Ternoise and perhaps 12km or more from Div HQ. It is situated high up on a hill and commands a wide prospect of hills and valleys. Everything is very fresh green and peaceful.

What a blessing it would be if there were no war. Went to a church service in the recreation tent. A noteworthy remark made by the Padre was that biblical criticism which said that the New Testaments histories were written 100 or more years after Christ were out of date and incorrect. Saint Luke’s gospel is stated to be contemporaneous.

Monday 20th 

A brilliant day. Last night Fritz came over bombing around here. Porridge for breakfast but my trouble is that I have no appetite and can only force myself to eat a little. Therefore I have listlessness which I desire to throw off so that I can get back to my unit.

Tuesday 21st

Hereabouts I was marked for the base. I was hoping to get to Blighty but that seems almost too much to hope for.

Wednesday 22nd 

Entrain as a stretcher case to Camiers near the sea. Hospital 22 where I am is on a hill commanding a view of the sea and the seaside resort called Paris-Plage.

Thursday 23rd to Tuesday 28th

All this while I was a bed patient seeing many go to Blighty but not myself. I am not much in favour with the Sister. That I think has more than a little to do with Blighty or not Blighty an opinion that others besides myself share.

Wednesday 29th

Go by car to number 6 convalescent camp near Etaples. It was close here that the Bosch Airmen came over and bombed the hospitals. This very night at 10.30pm we were turned out into the trenches as an air attack was on mostly over Etaples itself. This lasted till 1.30am.

Thursday 30th (or 31st

On this morning we were detailed to go into Etaples taking fat to a factory. Here we saw the great damage done to the town mostly to the civilians, the bridge was only slightly damaged. Again this night at 10.30 the German Airmen came over. We went into the trench.

This raid was an even greater extent, many planes being employed but it was the camps and hospitals that suffered rather than Etaples. Right over us he dropped a flare which came slowly down lighting us up. Then came four bombs one fell quite close and into our recreating hut marked with a Red Cross.

Another set fire to a hospital causing deaths from burning. This time there could be no earthly excuse for the enemy airmen. The bomb that fell into the recreation room made a tremendous hole and burst a water pipe. At 1.30 as the moon came up the enemy departed from his evil work. Enemy still advancing in the Soissons Rheims front.

June 1918

Saturday  1st & Sunday 2nd

Entrained at 5pm for Trouville–sur-Mer. Travelling all night and next day till evening. Grand scenery as we go along. Arrive there after tea. Miniature train took us to the camp high up in the hillside. The company in my hut are rather rowdy but full of fun. Had a rather bad night’s sleep.

Monday 3rd

Examined by Dr. and put into category B which means I may get a fortnight’s stay. Got a pass into Trouville in the evening. It is something like Scarborough but continentalised. The Ladies look very chic. The shops are A1 and houses on a grand scale.

I went by the sea. It was glorious indeed, fresh and health giving and appetite giving too I might add. Met two acquaintances with whom I return to camp. My next door companion is of the same name as myself. He is a nice chap, comes from London. Had some fun after light out.

Friday  7th (or thereabouts)

Visited the Salvation Army hut. What invigorating spirit and happiness seems to possess this type of Christian (Salvation Army) I almost envy them their certitude and outlook on life. Read some of Wallace’s book on man’s place in the universe.

He thinks only the earth is inhabited and that because the earth only has all the necessary conditions to bring forth and sustain life. The sun (and the earth of necessity too) is at the centre of the Milky Way a position of great importance to a life bearing world.

Can we not see in this the hand of God and if so how proud and yet how humbly adoring we should be to think that we alone of all worlds should be chosen for the abode of life. Humanity takes on an immense importance and moral significance.

Monday 10th

Received first letter from mother.

Tuesday 11th

Marked for four days stay here then away I shall go to where I cannot say.

This morning I glanced at the Hibbert Journal. I get nothing but bewildered when I read these articles. Is it not better I should leave them alone and content myself with just the ordinary facts of life? One article on materialism there was which however clever and seemingly convincing would cut all hopefulness and religion away.

Later I read a book by Harold Begbie on “the ordinary” man dealing with the work of the YMCA and conversions and here despite the difficulties of Christian belief I felt were experiences which would make the world what it really should be.

No doubt the great thing that is wrong with humanity is the disease of sin and what then should we accept as a remedy? I know the oft repeated answer but for me is it acceptable? At any rate I know it to be desirable. Will the future prove it so.

Sunday 16th

Went to the Church of England service a manly sermon but I felt I could not join in the service.

Why? Because sincerity would make me hate to act the hypocrite. I know that despite the longings after spiritual peace and a spiritual life I fail to attain, or if attained to keep to such life.

Yet I remember in the month of March how danger anxiety and fatigue move me to seek peace of soul where only it can be found. The danger passed, I lapse or tended to lapse! How despicable is this now lacking in manliness, in the keeping of a promise. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.

God loves the world. Even now he is chastening the world, unless it turns to him. The chastening of love must continue. For me personally the chastening must continue. If in March he would bring me to a realisation by suffering then when I lapse I must expect an even greater chastening on me or other of its forms.

In some way I shall be touched and pursued, by fear, by the hurting of affections by deprivation. Yet I must not forget that even a good man receives chastening as the conditions against which his spirituality is maintained.

Wednesday 19th

Thoughts on Education (Spencer) of children and their upbringing “at the outset of autocratic control where control is really needful, by and by an incipient constitutionalism in which liberty of the subject gains some recognition, successive extensions of this liberty of the subject gradually ending is parental abdication”.

Be sparing of commands, command only when other means are inapplicable or have failed. Whenever you command, command with decision of consistency. Consider well what you are going to do weigh all consequences and then finally enforce obedience at whatever cost. (Use nature’s analogies of disobedience and their consequences).

Today fit parade. This evening I met a very intellectual Welshman with who I had a walk and some very interesting conversations. He would turn out to be a congenial companion if it were possible to cultivate his acquaintance.

Thursday 20th

This evening I left Trouville of happy memories. The train left the station with the band playing “should auld acquaintance be forgot”. Descending from the train when it stopped for some minutes I notice three carriages of another train that was positively riddled with shrapnel, probably from bombs.

Friday 21st

During the morning we arrived at Rouen and went to the next station for a few hours. Here I got friendly with a fellow whose home was near Ripon. We agreed to go into Rouen together and doing so we had en route some happy conversation.

Arriving in the town I made straight for the Cathedral a noble building with a slender spire of tremendous height apparently of modern build upon the Old Tower. Inside I made the acquaintance of a young Frenchman of good breeding and much kindness who volunteered to show us around.

Joan of Arc’s statue was covered but of equal recompense was the climb right to the top of the Tower which he obtained permission for us to undertake. A great and glorious view we saw of river, city and far countryside and all the outstanding features of the town.

Later visited the scene of Joan’s martyrdom at the stake and as I looked I tended sincere and humble tribute and also contrition to her noble memory. I saluted and voiced my sentiments of regret concerning my countrymen’s action to any French friend. With charming brotherliness he said, but that was a long time ago, we are now friends. I am pleased to do anything for English soldiers.

Truly our friends the French our great enduring nation with much to admire in them. Later we boarded the train and next morning arrived at Etaples.

(During the night journey I was talking to a boy from Edinburgh on wives, morality, religions. He had been to Hull and London. In our town he received bad treatment by a lady of easy virtue, being drugged and thrown into a lane. Despite this I think he was right-natured).

Saturday 22nd 

Stopped at the YMCA rest hut until train departure. In a few hours we reached Boulogne and climbed the hill to the Labour Corps Camp. Of course this was a mistake as I should never have gone to Boulogne at all.

Sunday 23rd

I get a movement order and left camp at 2pm put my things in the station and went New Boulogne across the river. Spent time on the pier and beach had tea and afterwards went to a French cinema.

Coming away I had supper and a final walk along the sea shore just as the crimson sun was setting amidst a cold sea of green. With a farewell look I returned and then spent the remaining hours at the Scierie (sawmill) Rest Billet.

Monday 24th 

Caught train for Rouen at 6am. Slept in the train till 7am. Changed at Abancourt where large numbers of refugees from Belgium got into the train. During the journey to Rouen I chatted with a girl from Bailleul who spoke English well and she told me many a tale of German’s atrocity.

Rouen I reached about 1pm and taking the cars to the hilltop arrived in camp about 2pm and reported. Settled down had tea and in the evening was at an excellent concert given by Miss Lena Ashwell concert party.

Tuesday 25th

Went through various unpleasant parades including gas parade. Learnt that I shall have to go to Abbeville to Signals Depot shortly

Wednesday June 26th to Monday July 1st

Days of tedious parades and fatigues, some nights in the trenches when the German aeroplanes where over.

Fatigues included trench digging and sand bagging round hospitals.

July 1918

Tuesday 2nd

Arrived in early morning at Abbeville. This place is much damaged by bomb and the civilians appear to have left the town in great part. Those who remain go into the country to sleep.

Camp routine very strict and parades continual leaving very little spare time. I meet a few old acquaintances from the Division, chief of whom is Syd Crawley. He has altered a little looking older as most of us do.

Wednesday 3rd 

Routine includes Technical instruction physical exercise. The latter I do not mind rather I think a continual course would do a world of good. Still it is strenuous at first. I do not like all these parades or the hustle which pervades them. It seems to me to be calculated to spoil the spirit of the men and judging by conversation this is so. It is a mistaken policy of chat I am certain.

This night we marched out into the country four miles and slept under the stars.

Thursday 4th

Up very early and off away again home. This evening out of the party for marching. So Ireland and I went into Abbeville wrote a letter or two home from the Catholic Club this done we had a good supper of eggs, potatoes and coffee and returned. It does not appear that I stand much hope of getting back to the 25th Division. I have written but had no reply nor is there anything on the notice board indicating that they require me again.

Saturday 6th

A slack Saturday morning detailed for the marching party. My feet are very bad otherwise I would rather welcome the march. Visited the Medical Hut and got some boracic powder and Condy’s fluid. I suggested lint but they said it would make them worse. Washed my feet and applied powder but boots were still very painful. So I relied on my own judgement and sewed lint round my toes with the result that I marched comfortably.

At the commencement of the march Percy Whitham of Grimsby, brother of Ida once of our office, came and spoke to me. We had a happy chat on old football games and the convivial evenings which followed those old time festivals.

Slept a little warmer than last time. Spent some minutes looking up at the great star Aldebaran and the darkening heavens as the stars came slowly out.

Sunday 7th

This evening I was neither on the marching out party or the lorry, nothing to report of this day except there is still the same irksome discipline and the Technical which I find difficult to crave.

Monday 8th

Detailed for the lorry party this evening, no biscuits or food in the YMCA but fortunately I got a tin of peas in the EFC. No letters from home yet. 8.45pm went by the lorry during a very heavy rain.

The sleeping place was under a beautiful avenue of trees and quite romantically situated. For my place I chose the bye woods of smaller trees underfoot there was a carpet of leaves and as I lay in the dim twilight looking up at the green canopy above my thought more akin to peace than they had been for some time. I slept very well.

Tuesday 9th 

It must have been about this date I got a letter from Shally. It appears they have sent for me but I must not yet arrived at Abbeville when my name appeared on the list. Shally has gone to the Brigade (61) as second corporal.

Wednesday 10th

Saw cutting of HA here today. He is from the 8th Corps now disbanded. Today and yesterday on fatigues.

Had a talk with two WACS in the garden while clearing buckets out.

Thursday 11th

A very rainy day. Still the same old lectures. This depot is becoming very full and there appears to be little demand for operators. I foresee unpleasant changes. It may come to pass that my leaving Division was exceedingly unfortunate.

Friday 12th

Receive first letter from mother with letter enclosed from Willie. He is very comfortable where he is and is likely to stay. They are feeling a little despondent at home sometimes as they work very hard.

Hilda’s (sister) baby is growing rapidly and can say almost anything. So far have not heard from Hilda but she must have removed as mother refers to it. Dad is 76 and is well for that I am glad. As I feared, they are wanting some operators to transfer to signallers so I await events.

Saturday 13th

So many more operators have been detailed for wireless course. Weather is now very sultry and oppressive. The marching out party were caught in a thunderstorm during the night and returned wet through in the early hours of the morning.

Sunday 14th

A very clear night and the beginning of the moon. We had a visit of an unnatural kind from Fritz after 11pm. Several of his planes came round and dropped bombs on the station and waterworks. A hospital train in the station was hit with a few resultant casualties. The barrage we put up was great. After two hours in the trench got back to bed felt very sleepy next morning.

Monday 15th

At last! I am in orders for the 20 Signals having been applied for by the OC. I am mightily glad as Abbeville is a place calculated to spoil the spirits of the best of men. I think the treatment they meet out is the reverse of wise. The lorry party went out again this evening and got very wet once more.

Tuesday 16th

Left Abbeville this morning and arrived Etaples where we were put in tents for the night at the 9th Rest Station. Went to the cinema for a couple of hours. There were a party of Yanks in the camp and one in our tent. A very decent lot they seemed to be. Another thundery night which however is something to be thankful for as it keeps Fritz away. Had a very decent sleep tonight.

Wednesday 17th

Up early and entrained. Raining very heavily. It is a very tedious journey. Detrained at Acq near Mont-Saint-Eloi. At Acq we stayed the night.

Thursday 18th 

After a drink of tea I set off for Chateaux De La Haie. Walked to Villers-au-Bois through that village I was lucky enough to get a lift to the Chateaux where finally after a long time I rejoined my unit. I am mightily glad too. It is immensely pleasing to meet one’s old friends and pals. They were very glad to see me too.

I met old Oliver and Exton but was sorry to hear that Golding and Wildman had died of gas in Blighty and that all the NCO’s of 61 Brigade were in England with gas. Reg Mitchell too is convalescent in London. Calton has died from his complaint. I expected he would get better.

Today I had the day off and in the evening went to the 1st Canadian Division show and saw the best show for a long time. A review “Take A Chance”. In it was a very bonnie girl Kitty O’Hara.

Fritz came over this night as it was a brilliantly moonlight night. Several bombs were dropped.

Friday 19th 

Went to the show at Camblain-l’Abbe given by the Canadians. A great affair worthy of Blighty. Today I did very little. Fritz was overhead again this evening but he did no bomb dropping.

Saturday 20th 

This morning I walked with Oliver to Gouy-Servins. Stopped for a drink at a café. Here I met a very vivacious and witty French girl Julia, neat and good looking too. She spoke English too.

Sunday 21st 

The news continues great 20 thousand prisoners taken by the French & Germans back over the Marne. I did 1-5 today.

Monday 22nd 

Again 1-5 on another shift. Letter from mother. Walked over to Camblain and met Reg Horne at the 8th Corps. Had a long chat with him. Oliver and I went to supper across the road, fish and chips. Fritz brought one of our balloons down.

Wednesday 24th 

Letter from Hilda. She is very anxious that I should join the artillery or apply for a commission. I do not think I would be allowed and in any case I have no inclination that way.

Sunday 28th 

Came off at 8am after all night but this I spent sleeping mostly as I had won the toss with Simpkins. After cleaning up I walked with Exton to Camblain and booked a seat at the show. I met Bishop in Camblain the first time since 1914. He looks pretty much the same.

On duty 5pm-9pm. A very beautiful calm evening, moon rising full and bright. I expected Jerry would come over and at 11.30pm he did so, circling round above us. Had a severe argument with next door for keeping lights on. Bombs were dropping far and near until finally there came a whiz and instinctively we all threw ourselves on the floor. A great explosion followed and debris crashing through the trees was accompanied by cries of agony and for help. Great damage had been done to Camp. Eight or nine huts but a heap of refuse, the others shattered and riddled with shrapnel. A great hole was in the centre of the row of huts.

I saw seven killed but many more must be missing or wounded. About a 120 cases passed through the field ambulance. Went to the dugout and paid frequent visits during a very bad night of raiding. It seems the whole district has been bombed on this occasion. Later found that this bomb was 400 pound weight.

Monday 29th 

No trouble from Fritz tonight as it was a stormy evening.

Tuesday 30th 

My day off. Stayed in during morning and cleaned up. Went to the show given by Canadians. “Take A Chance” a very fine piece of work.

Wednesday 31st 

Spare morning after all night. In the evening went with Oliver to 56th Division show at Camblain.

Called to see Reg Horne. This also was a good show the girl in red beret especially fine.

On at 9pm so I am transferred to same shift as Oliver. About 10.30pm Fritz came over so we transferred office to the dugouts. Eight bombs dropped at Carnoy.

August 1918

Tuesday 6th 

Heard from Mr. Bolton at last he suggests the rabbit holding and gives particulars.

Thursday 8th 

The Allies start offensive on Montdidier Villers-Bretonneux front.

Friday 9th 

Germans making a harder fight for it on the Vesle Heights but on the Somme they have been pushed back to Beaufort. This is the place where we stayed with the 61 Brigade in the cellar prior to the French relieving us. We await further news for one days advance is as equal to anything the Germans did in March.

Saturday 10th 

I wrote to Small Holders Association and Hilda today.

Wednesday 14th 

Davidson, self, Keohane and Hedges went to Ablain-Saint-Nazaire. Our office is opposite the famous Lorette Ridge the bloodiest hill in history. Here seventy thousand men lost their lives taking the ridge.

Thursday 15th 

We slept in an Armstrong hut these first two nights but were later turned out as it was an officer’s billet.

Now the signal office is our billet and a thing I do not like. The bombing we go through is a test of nerve as it is a nightly performance.

Friday 16th 

Went with Keohane to the balloon section for a drink in the evening and saw the interesting sight of the balloon going up. Got letter and photos of Eileen.

Saturday 17th 

After duty I walked to Gouy-Servins. Some distance just to get a bottle of milk. It was very dull and this gave us all a feeling of security and consequent gladness a decent night’s sleep was the result.

Sunday 18th 

Have just finished reading one of Baroness Orczy’s books. “Fire in the Stubble” a very fine love story dealing as usual with this author’s France of the seventeenth century. I have read quite a lot of literature in which our French allies figure lately. Personally I find much to admire in the French, they are a great race.

This night was, from the point of beauty a perfect one. It was a moonlit night with a few clouds drifting across the sky, but no sense of beauty appealed to us from 10pm to 2pm we had constant raids from the enemy.

Quantities of bombs were dropped some nearby. The result was a rather disturbed night.

Monday 19th 

The morning opened fine at 7.20am quite forty-five of our planes went over in what seems to have been a retaliating raid. Some say there were a hundred planes.   Coming back they skirted our camp low and I was surprised to hear a burst of machine gun fire apparently from one of the machines.

Later I found that this was so resulting in two horses killed one wounded and one man wounded. There is doubt whether a German’s plane masquerading as a British had come amidst the others.

Saturday 24th 

This evening I went with Hedges and Keohane to the top of Lorette Ridge “the bloodiest hill in history” where seventy four thousand French were lost in the attack. To my right was Vimy famous forever in Canadian annals. At the station we stopped a while and looked over the countryside below.

I could see far beyond the German lines, one slag heap in particular was pointed out as the place to which our boys signalled our successes. It appears the German signaller correctly too and answered our news so we may be sure that the enemy do get a little truth sometimes at least.

On all night with the enemy dodging overhead and consequently sleep was not easy until 3am or later.

Sunday 25th 

Resolved this morning that I would again climb Lorette Ridge. This place begins to fascinate me; indeed its catalogue of attractions is numerous. At this present moment I am seated on that part of the Ridge overlooking the enemy lines. Far and vast is the panorama below veiled thinly with a haze born of the heat.

A dozen villages and towns lie scattered below in their patchy redness, everyone a famous landmark in the history of this war. Slag heaps shafts and all the paraphernalia of the mining industry about. Some of the mines are still working and yielding to Fritz a black fortune.

Broken woods, woods still untouched lie below me, the blueness and shimmer of the nestling pools the green and white of a chalk marked landscape fitfully overshadowed by the passing clouds. What most glorious presence thou hast.

Nature vast and far flung are these places with their poplar lined roads but still closer to me are many, many other glories clamouring for recognition, sweet warm scented clover, white and pink convolvuli blue cornflower, sturdy upstanding thistle of deepest purple down. There is the browned bracken, vivid green of the gorse, the tall sword blade of the bull rush and everywhere fields of yellow bloom the name of which I known not.

Too feeble are my words, too feeble my endeavours to expresses, yet who can remain silent amidst so much calling for praise and appreciation? The hours of the long day were too short to drink in all this multitude of beauty. High up and far away as I am, still there comes to me at this moment the strains of religious music for today is Sunday.

What stirrings of the spirit do these strains, these noble sights, this riot of colour, these sweet scented odours awaken. Encrusted as I am by the militarism and routine of this life, the barrier it opposes to all high thought and aesthetic living, I am still capable of being aroused untouched by all this great natural wonder around.

Come quietly the day when all this hideous cloak of war wrapping me around is cast finally away, leaving me free again to respond to all that is highest and best. Free to work out a life’s work and destiny to make a home in the countryside living the life that nature demands.

Wednesday 28th 

What memories of old days are revived in the names now coming to us in the communiqué! Carnoy, Montauban Briqueterie and today Guillemont of our own Divisional fame. It is difficult to stem the rising tide of optimism which fills one.

Thursday 29th 

Had a walk to Lorette and the victual station this evening. Saw the whole landscape below though it was rather misty. Occupied my mind with my future ambitions and came to some resolutions which I chronicle below and which I must read very frequently.

What do I want for the future? A comfortable artistic home in the country with a sufficient income to provide what I desire in the realms of literature and aesthetics generally. An income that will ease the burden of home duties for Hilda and that will enable Eileen to be well educated.

For this ambition I need –





Health. My health I must conserve, all inimical habits must be foresworn. This decision must be constantly brought to mind and strictly enforced. Dissipation or carelessness of any sort is an Enemy to my Ambition. There cannot co-exist. No exceptions must be allowed and no allurements can be permitted to influence even one single betrayal.

Energy. My aim must be a ruling passion, a constant stimulus to energy. My ambition must be a strong motive power that urges continually to endeavour.

Knowledge. This must be gained else energy will be misspent or aimless. Whatever opportunity comes must be appropriated and not only that but I must definitely seek knowledge. And I might add see persistently.

Money. This necessary commodity must be conserved by personal care in expenditure. If when the time arrives I have not sufficient money I must borrow but carefully and only to a limited extent.

Now granted the above programme adhered to and that the prospects of rabbit farming are as good as I am assured they are, I am convinced of success and of progress up to whatever limit I care to put. In no case however shall this reach to greed but only to the legitimate satisfying of the best impulses of the soul.

We are making great progress – Guillemont Ginchy Flers, scenes of my 1916 experiences in French Esmery-Hallon etc. of vivid March memories when I had both days of the happiest in the woods and days of weariness and trial on the great retreat. Now Mr. Fritz is getting some of his own medicine and with a vengeance.

Friday 30th 

Had a very happy evening with George Keohane and Royle with whom I went a brambling we got quite two pints if not more. On night duty tonight. I have been wondering if I cannot expedite my scheme for rabbit rearing so that the foundation is already laid for immediate resumption when I return home. Can I get the house and land now?

Saturday 31st 

Once more I am sat overlooking the plains from Lorette Ridge. The morning is wild and dark, very cool and fresh but pleasant with all. As I sit it is mostly silent around with just an occasional drone of a passing aeroplane in the bark of hidden batteries. These however do not suffice to hold my mind from wandering back to times prehistoric and ancient.

Think I, how is it possible that a few hundred years of advanced civilisation can over balance the instincts of age long history? In many cases they do not, witness my oneness with nature around my desires and learning’s for the country and its influences. There I say you have just this age long instinct reprising to be held bond slave to modern civilisation.

In all that is best let the ancient stirring reign supreme for they are root and seed of many noble things.

Note I forgot to chronicle that the other evening the new Divisional institution of Education gave a lecture on “You”. Government will educate us on an topic we desire so fitting us for remaining life after the war.

I desire to thank the Government and express appreciation. It seems to me that here to hand is a means by which I can further my own ambitions. So I will exploit this too and make it a stepping stone to my complete equipment of knowledge.

September 1918

Monday 2nd 

Went to pictures in evening. A very touching drama, superbly staged. The heroine was fine her type of face particularly appealing to me.

Tuesday 3rd 

Climbed beloved Lorette again and there sat and thought, meditating upon my schemes and how to fulfil them. I have the strong desire, I have the definite aim. I see my scheme more or less in the rough and so far complete as my ignorance will allow me data to build upon. I have a programme, the first part being the acquisition of knowledge and the means thereto.

So much is as far as I can go at present. I have ideas of its later development but other earlier considerations require attention as of yet.  Resolved that when I read anything I will try to visualise it.

Resolved with emphasis, that I fiercely keep hold of my health, that I kill everything likely to prejudice it.

Without health I cannot plan. Without health I cannot execute plans. Without health I cannot enjoy the fruits of my planning or executions of ideas. Therefore let reason reign in the regulation of habits.

Wednesday 4th

Went to pictures and enjoyed them very much. Picture “The Thoroughbred”.

Friday 6th

Spent the morning on Lorette after doing night duty. Studied Mr. Bolter’s letter and finally decided that I might venture with 50 does and 10 bucks and the acre of ground near a town. Also I think the house and land should be chosen before I get home and cultivated with the necessary crops to be in readiness for an immediate start.

Possibly also the hutches may be made ready. Still sticking to my non-smoking resolve etc. A thing to stir the fancy the French are in Guiscard and Freniches, where we were before the March Offensive. Harm is very close now.

Thursday 12th 

Letter from Hilda and Mother. Hilda mentions my allusion to children thinks we cannot expect any more as it would be dangerous to her. Well it will be a great grief but we have Eileen. My fear is that we should be lonesome if any might happen to that dear little soul.

Hilda has bought some rabbits. I do not know if that is of any definite use at present but anyway it shows sympathy with my aims – and myself? Am I still of the same mind? Yes – so far I have not failed in the two respects appertaining to health. There are one or two other things which I have come to regard an inimical: worry, indecision, irritability.

It is no use constantly railing against persons and circumstances such a policy indicates weakness and results in still further weakness.

Friday 13th

I climbed Lorette and walked further than usual over the ridge. I found a very large number of brambles and ate quite a lot. Planta Genista was still in vivid bloom. I plucked some, the colour reminded me of Laburnum. I must grow some of this latter with lilac someday.

The evening was threatening and dull, a strong wind blowing. The observation from the heights was very good and I saw two German balloons up. I felt fully under the sway of nature and all my desire rose as keenly as ever to make my home amidst nature and nature’s beauty. I can be very happy in the solitude of nature but why call it solitude?

All the time there is going on a silent commission, satisfying an enriching though never a word be spoken.

I was arrested by the site of a small bush with yellow flowers but whose small red flowers with the ruddy tints of autumn and taken was I with the sight that I sat down beside it and watched it closely. Those tints are links of association which carry me back to happy days at Cavillon and Belloy-sur-Somme.

A glimpse upwards and I saw the red roofs and white walls on the edge of a plain, these too arouse in me all those visions of home life I covet.Just now as I sat there came the crack of a rifle and the whiz of two bullets not very far away can it be possible I was being sniped at? It seems a long way for that to happen but I cannot otherwise account for the shots.

Sunday 15th 

During the night from 11.30pm till 1.30am enemy shelled the vicinity of camp with heavy stuff. Very poor sleep consequently. Carency suffered with bombs which Fritz unloaded when we got him in the searchlight and peppered him heavily. He was an immense plane.

Monday 16th 

(A heavy thunderstorm) This night we had four shells over, not a large number but they were much closer falling in the football field.

Tuesday 17th 

I have a very bad cold and am a bit feverish. The night started very clear and moonlit but gradually became misty and the sky cloud swept. About 10.30pm there were unmistakable sounds of aircraft circling around, diving and shutting off of engines.

It was difficult to say whether it was enemy aircraft or ours until bursts of machine gun fire settled the matter. We rushed outside and saw a very large Fritz in the searchlight low over our camp.

Our neighbours machine gun was spitting luminous bullets at Fritz who rapidly climbed and sped away firing back at us as he did so. After this the night was quieter and I got a much needed sleep.

Wednesday 18th 

After breakfast cleaned up and climbed Lorette. I see in the morning’s paper that it is difficult to obtain a place in the country suitable to my needs. Everyone seems busy exploiting the demand for country houses and land. Well it is up to me to do my uttermost and not despair.

This morning there is to be a daylight raid with the object I’d say of testing the strength of his line preparatory to the great push for Douai which I think is coming off shortly. Leave is commencing a little better.

Wednesday 25th 

After a period of unsuitable nights we had a visit from Fritz. The sky was clear and the visits were three in number. Each time the very powerful searchlights caught him. No. 1 was so best with machine gun fire that he unloaded his bomb which fell around Carency.

I was watching all this from the hillside where I slept. Other bomb fell on Lorette. After the bombing the shells came on bursting not 50 yards from me. Altogether we had a busy night. For two distinct nights I slept in the tunnel and very good sleep I had too.

Thursday 26th 

Put a trench round our hut and made a parapet all round us as a protection against the increasing activity of Fritz. Some of the infantry boys say they would rather be in the line. A very wild dark rainy night. We had a quieter night too. We are obtaining victory on all fronts.

October 1918

Friday 4th 

Tomorrow we are being relieved by 12 Division. I am left behind to look after office till closing down. No sleep as we were very busy.

Saturday 5th

Three 12 Division boys relieved us at 2pm. Walked to Division and got the limber to Villers Chatel. This fine old spot looks as beautify as ever in its setting of green.

Sunday 6th 

Exton, Oliver, Harold & I walked to Aubigny. This is nice little place where almost anything can be obtained. I got a notebook. We all had egg and chips supper and a happy walk home.

Exton telling us of his Paris experience – it appears that the Germans dropped 40 bombs on Aubigny the night they dropped one on Chateaux D’La Haie.

Monday 7th 

Cleaned up thoroughly in the morning. On duty at 5pm. Sergeant Denton left me in charge till 9pm. I am to have tomorrow off from 1pm to 5pm. Smith was very merry at 9pm and complained about having no NCO on the billet and no stove.

The orderly officer turned his back an unmerited snub after all Smith was quite respectful and correct in his complaints. Another thing, it is not pleasant to sit up in a cold office all night without a stove.

Tuesday 8th 

On parade 9am gun drill, cleaning cable carts. This done I took a walk in the Chateau grounds. I went through the low arches of entwined trees lit here and there by the golden shafts of sunlight. Turning left into a very narrow path I wandered on till I came to the open and ploughed fields. Across I could see Mont-Saint-Eloi and the balloon which must be the one at Givenchy.

This morning there is a strong wind, the air is keen and pleasant. The earth is dressed in autumn robes of dark green, vivid green and many shades of brown with here and there a tree stained crimson with the hue of its laden berries. I admire and love this glorious weather, indeed cannot rise to appreciation of its beauties.

I should have to be a different person to give all the homage that is due. In the evening Oliver, Exton and I went to Mingoval and visited two Estaminets and afterwards the house where we obtained chips. Returned to billet and were soon in bed. Smith was “merry” and was talking about hypnotising causing much merriment but later when all others were asleep I had a long discussion with him about hypnosis, spiritualism and kindred subjects.

Thursday 10th 

On duty 8am. A rather dull and misty morning. From where I sat in the office I could see through the small window the big chestnut tree whose leaves were turning yellow and brown. The pods themselves were hanging in many cases partially split showing the rich colour of the nuts within.

I spent some time pondering over the rabbit scheme. I think I will write for CA House’s book and read in conjunction with the one on market gardening. I expect to receive this shortly. Walked with Oliver to Aubigny after tea had supper and returned on duty 9pm.

Friday 11th 

Write to WH Smith enclosing 2 shillings for book by C A House on Rabbit rearing.

Yesterday we had broken through as far as Le Cateau with slight or no opposition and with evidently a rapidly retreating enemy in front.

Much thought on my project. Have come to the decision that much might be gained by my visiting Buckingham Palace Mews rabbitries as soon as I possibly can. I may mention this to Mr Bolter. In this way I might learn and see much of practical value to me. Later I have the house and land problem to tackle. I wish to ask a question re the respective value of pedigree animals, or utility rearing from the financial point of view.

Wednesday 16th 

Still no reply from WH Smith or Mr Bolter. It is a great tax on my patience and renders me a little despondent on my chances of success but I must assert my will to win and persist till I do get the information I require.

Also I have heard nothing from the Education Officer referring to my application. It seems to me that I had better enquire if there is any place where I can get practical insight into methods and material. At the moment the national rabbitries at Buckingham Palace mews suggests itself as the best way. I must write and arrange a visit when on leave.

Friday 18th

Lille freed at last with 220,000 civilians. Later Roubaix and Tourcoing had fallen or better said was restored as once more to France.

This afternoon I went into the avenue and gathered chestnuts and firewood. The leaves are falling thickly now and the nuts are plentiful on the ground. I could hear them falling every two or three minutes it was a difficult job to espy them as they fell.

Saturday 19th

On duty at 8am. I had forgotten to mention that Oliver, I and Harold went to Aubigny last night and at a happy time. Also one recent evening Pollard received a parcel but as he was on his way to Blighty we opened and at 1am four Yorkshire lads were eating pork pie.

After tea we went to went to Estree-Cauchy about two km away and had a drink or two in the Estaminet. Called in to see Sergeant Passy of the Durham Light Infantry and he took us to his billet which was an Estaminet. Here was a fine girl who charmed us with her quaint English.

Too late to stop for supper with Sergeant so we set off back in a heavy drizzle and got very wet. On duty at 9pm, hear we have advanced still further and are nearing the Dutch coast of Bruges and Ghent.

Wrote to Hilda, mother and Mr. F. N. Preston local representative of Agricultural Society regarding the rabbit scheme of Hull and perhaps this will help me. Do I see my scheme gradually unfolding? I hope so sincerely.

Monday 21st 

In the evening went with some of the boys to Cambligneul afterwards coming back to the chip shop and thence home to bed. Bill Kelly was very demonstrating affectionate on my bed.

Tuesday 22nd 

Duty morning. In the afternoon I searched the woods round the chateaux for fuel getting a sack full and hiding it until nightfall. Spent an odd hour at an Estaminet at Mingoval but I was rather unsettled as I miss my friends.

Wednesday 23rd 

For Douglas Haig’s dispatch contains mention of 61 Brigade and our stand before Liancourt, the night I was with the Summersets’ as a runner. This was the day we dug in till dawn.

Still no reply from the Smallholders. I will wait a little longer before writing again. Also I have not yet got the books I sent for. Truly enough I need patience and determination to persevere.

If I do this then perhaps the trend of events will turn in my favour – the Corps are now at Oscines far ahead “we” are even farther behind than Army HQ.

Reading in the Times (1st Tuesday) I see the greeting convened to consider the formation of a rabbit club was not a conspicuous success. Criticism ran on the lines that food was not obtainable and when obtainable only at exorbitant prices. Mention was made of the high price of oats though oats were a luxury food and therefore unnecessary. So the remedy would seem to be an abundance of green food. Mr. Preston stated that the food produce department would supply some if club started.

My own estimate judging only from the newspaper reports is that the rabbit keepers show some hostility to the co-op notion either through a jealousy of further organisations arising or that they are at present unable to feed their stock. The remedy would seem to be an amalgamation of societies into one and the production by government of large and adequate food stock. In my case the thing to do is to be if possible independent of such food contra verse to grow it myself.

I do not see any evidences that rabbit keeping is going in Hull on any ambitious scale but that is no reason why the attempt should not be made provided a few difficulties are smoothed away, viz food, disposal of food and have already written to Mr. Preston for information. What can I do further?

I suggest (a) writing to Sec. N U R A asking information re progress of clubs elsewhere up to date the steps I have taken are

  • Writing to Mr. Bolter
  • Writing to Smiths for “Gardening”
  • Writing to Smallholders
  • Writing to Mr. Preston re Hull club

So far no answer but I will persevere. Further reflection determines me to write Hilda and ask her if she could be present at the lecture proposed and possibly the subsequent meeting of the Hull Rabbit Keepers.

Thursday 24th 

Much severe thought on the scheme. Several lines of action have suggested themselves as a result. I will write to Hilda stating definitely the money I may require and will point out that Uncle succeeded on his wife’s capital therefore why shouldn’t I on borrowed capital etc.

I must write Mr. Bolter asking about capital, visit to the Mews, book or advice on market gardening especially intensive. I must also find out if possible the cost of food for rabbit cost of living for selves?

Also get Dad’s aid whilst home and if possible find the house I want or at any rate make enquiries. I must write to the Secretary of United Rabbit Association re clubs elsewhere and their progress and also general progress of government’s scheme.

I recognise I am up again at something but still I am determined. Those books, or similar ones I will have, and will master them, the money I think I can get and the house too I shall make all endeavours to get them. Hard work will ensure success because I know it is the wish of the authorities that we grow our own food.

It is reasonable to suppose a bright future and it will be a wise step to take the opportunity. Others will if I do not – I do not think it will take me long to pay off what I will borrow. Should I succeed in cultivating my land even the amount I think I need maybe not so large a sum.

Saturday 26th

Wrote to Smith Sons asking them to keep Rabbit Rearing on order. Wrote Mr. Bolter asking re the sufficiency of capital and advisability and getting experience on a rabbitry if possible. Wrote Secretary N.U.R.A. re clubs and visit to Mews. Next I shall have to write re house and land. I wrote Hilda a long letter asking about assistance and furniture.

This afternoon I went into the woods and chopped trees with Robertson. It was a beautifully fine afternoon putting vigour and life into one.

Tuesday 29th 

On all night in the morning was detailed for visual and at 6pm for night visual but in afternoon whilst laying down I was fetched out to do an hour in the office. On arrival there I was further informed I had to pack up immediately and proceed on bicycle to Morlancourt.

This place is about 18 km from Division. I was very vexed because I was going out to relieve Smith a man who cannot behave himself. It is a strange coincidence that this always happens before Brigade goes into action. I pass through the villages Mingoval, Villers-Brulin, Frevillers, Magnicourt , Monchy and Breton.

Just out of Magnicourt I saw a magnificent panorama. It burst into view suddenly and unexpectedly reminded me of the old view of the Yorkshire moors I remember so well. I coasted swiftly downhill my eye constantly on the wooded country below shrouded in evening mists. The road ran between a cleft in the hills and to the right of me there jutted into bold relief a span of the hill.

It was a view to be thankful, to raise the highest emotions of gratitude and worship. It certainly took from me much of the bitterness rankling in my mind and made me thankful for the experience.

Wednesday 30th 

Spent a not too bad night alongside of my old friend Sykes. Sorry to hear his father was killed, Sykes himself just returned from leave. We leave sometime today marching to Tinques training to some place and then bussing.

This morning I fancy Fritz was over bombing rail heads nearby. Let us hope the news will continue good and that Austria will finally pack in.

George MacNish
The Master of Evolution (written 1911)
Sherman French and Coy

Necessary to a good understanding of the above is James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, this book also links up with my recent readings of Begbie’s books of the submerged truth and also of the conversion of middle classes (YMCA and its work).


William Wordsworth
The Prelude 1805
Book Four
Summer Vacation

Success depends finally on the depth and intensity of your liking for your work, you have an end towards which you strive dearly and brings into play all the powers necessary to the desired achievement.


Reginald Hall East Yorkshire Regiment 1918 War Diary

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