Tuesday (7 August 1917)

The new O. C. Colonel Standish is a martinet.  He has extended the drill hours up to 5 p.m. so that one has no time for a rest and clean up before tea.  If he could hear the names he is called he would turn green.  R. and I went roaming in the gloaming.  I did a sketch and he made an amazing attempt on a piece of writing paper.  After that we strolled down a lane not previously explored and had a half pint at the “Rose Inn”.

It seems bad management not training us all in driving if we have to be drivers in France.  Most gunners don’t know the first thing about it – to stick on a horse is a minor detail for as the instructor says, “when you have fallen off heavily once or twice you take care not to do it again”.

Sunday, 6 p.m. Tandle Hill Tavern (5 August 1917)

There is a restriction on the hours of drinking, but when she opens at 6.30 we are just the boys for a pint and a snack of anything that’s going.  R’s appetite is almost as large as his feet, which are elevens.  A girl in the Parlour is strumming familiar old airs – little boy is talking to R. in broad Lancashire, calling him thee.  We had a blow out of bread and jam and finished up with, what do you think?  Pickled beetroot and carrot.

In a short lecture by a returned officer, he thought that in some sectors the Hun artillery was quite as effective as ours, but not on the average of the whole front.

4th August (1917)

3rd Anniversary of outbreak of war and no sign of it ending.  The 25th are back from leave.  Many have been to Scotland and speak of it in glowing terms, the people there seem to be most patriotic and have given them a good time.

R. spent the last night of his leave in a poor man’s cottage in Kilmarnock. He couldn’t find any accommodation, and this working man invited him to spend the night. His account of it: a supper of tinned salmon – Dad – Mother and the soldier at the table, the children on the floor, feeding out of father’s hand.  Their home, one room.  There were two beds, Dad, soldier and little girl of about 10 in one; mother and the rest of the family in the other.  They wouldn’t hear of him paying anything.  The scotch of the mother was so broad, that he couldn’t understand it at all.  No conveniences.  Water from tap in yard 3 stories down.

Returned after a ramble of about 8 hours with R.  I did two sketches whilst he talked and slept.  A queer-looking golden haired and golden toothed girl came along and talked to us.  After awhile her (golden) aunt turned up and a chap who appeared to be running the farm.  They were by no means typical farmers, and we couldn’t place them.  They said something about having been professionals before the war, apparently Music-hall artists.  At about 7 we arrived at Tandle Hill Tavern – with the fat landlady, who produced pints of beer, meat-pies, bread and jam and black currant tarts.  A very old building near the camp bears date 1668 – and the name – Chadderton Fold.

[Sketch by Lincoln Lee titled ‘Home of Golden Girl, Naylor Cottage, Thornham’.]

LOW RES-19-1_Cropped


2nd August (1917)

New Zealanders here are known as diggers.  Whether it has originated from the Kauri gum industry or not I can’t say.  I am now in a new hut under a N.C.O. who was in charge of the hut I was in at Featherston and there are actually with me 4 other of the men in old hut 177.  Last night had repetition of the two signallers’ boozeroo, but this time one of them (the funniest) was far too drunk to even attempt to be humourous and had to be undressed and put to bed like a bag of potatoes.

Wednesday, 1st August (1917)

Building gun pit this morning and took part in an expedition of depredation on a neighbouring quarry with a party of old soldiers.  Two of them held the quarry-men in conversation whilst the rest of us walked off with some large pieces of timber to support the roof of the gun-pit.  These returned men are interesting on the war when you get them going.  They say that we have more ammunition than the Germans now and are killing them quicker than they us, but that none of these big pushes could possibly lead to final victory.  Owing to the state of all roads and difficulties of very kind it is quite impossible to follow up any initial success, the attackers being too exhausted in men and material to be able to carry it further than a mile or two.  They say the Hun machine gunners are wonderfully game and fire to the last with one hand up pretending to surrender, and the other on the lever of the gun.  These chaps are unanimous that it will simply be a process of wearing them out.

At Rochdale I heard a young girl, daughter of a Labour M.P., addressing the crowd.  She spoke well and with great fervour, denouncing (inter alia) the working of children in their disgusting factories, they being the capitalists.  I could agree with her.

30th July (1917)

Saw some very old cottages in Middleton on route march and an old Inn at which Dick Turpin is said to have stayed, the masonry trellised with oak beams.  It was the shop’s half holiday and the female population gaped and grinned at us in thousands and at the schools the kiddies were let out in droves to look at us.

Sunday afternoon (29 July 1917)

Yesterday I had Manchester leave.  Set out in company of one Brodie, a signaller.  We had a look around the Belle Vue Gardens again.  Huge crowds everywhere.  Then to Whintworth Institute.  Fairly interesting though few famous pictures.  There was however a collection of Turner sketches, a lot of water-colours of the old school and a lot of very fine architectural drawings in colour of Belgian and other cities by Prout.  Visited the Art Gallery again to get another look at Watt’s pictures and Rodin’s statues.  We then went to a cafe limited to 1/3 worth of food, had 2 eggs on toast and three small pieces of shortbread (awful stuff).  After a cigar, a liqueur etc. we set out by a different tram route via Hollingwood and Oldham, stopping at the latter for a last drink and look round the weird Fair by lamplight.  Finished off with a plebeian feed of meat and potatoes in a “peoples” hash-house where the proletariat were gorging potato-pie, horseflesh, and other delicacies.  The profound, ugly, hopelessness of life in these big manufacturing towns baffles description – millions of moony girls and youths and poor dirty little kiddies whose whole life is passed in gloomy streets of tenement houses, without gardens or any kind of decoration.

[Note – below image is the cover of the 1917 “Official Guide” to the Belle Vue Gardens, Manchester.  A link to the full guide can be found here].

Bell Vue Gardens - Guide Cover - 1917