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From 12th August 1915 until 31st December 1915



At Dover we were met by private motor cars which I afterwards found were those of Lord Loreburn, Sir Arthur Woolerton and Sir Charles and Lady sergeant, the latter being the Commandant of the hospital to which I was taken, namely a saint Anselm's V A D Hospital, Walmer.


We had tea such as we had not partaken of four months and were then ordered to bed.



I was in bed all Friday the 13th August, 1915 and managed to get up during the afternoon for a nice warm bath.



Saturday 14th August was a beautiful day, and in at the afternoon I was allowed to get up and go into the grounds where I was initiated in the game of bowls.



On Sunday 15th August I got up early in the morning, but was not allowed to go out or go to Church.


In the afternoon, however, with Sir Charles sergeant and a number of men, I went out for a quiet stroll down to the beach at Deal, and there met many civilians and had a chat, and they were most kind to us, and gave us many little things such as cigarettes and tobacco, of which we were in need.


I could not help thinking how very strange that less than a week before I was in the most terrible part of the line in Flanders, and only a few days ago in the midst of a raging battle, but now I was in England at the seaside where all was peace and quietness.


I remained in hospital for some weeks, during which time my mother, sisters, brothers (including one who is at present in France having been there nearly 15 months and just had leave), and many of my friends, paid me a visit.



On Tuesday 17th August, Sir Robert Borden, (Prime Minister of Canada), visited the hospital and made a speech at dinner.


The patients in hospital had very many enjoyable afternoons and some very pleasant motor drives, walks, cricket matches and entertainments were provided by several of the local celebrities including Lord Loreburn, Sir Arthur Woolerton, Lady Hamilton (of Deal Castle), Lady Matthews and many others.


We also often went to the theatre at Deal and had excellent concerts in the hospital itself, and a band played weekly in our grounds, and everything was done that could be for our comfort.


Many amusing competitions were held such as trimming a ladies hat, etc, and I was twice successful in obtaining the first prize in these competitions.



On Sunday 22nd August my brother came to see me, (since killed in action RIP) and in the afternoon went over Deal Castle with me at the invitation of Lady Hamilton.


The underground passages were very continuous and it was quite easy for one to get lost in them.



Quite a peculiar fishing competition for the wounded soldiers was held on Thursday 9th September from Deal pier, in which every partaker received a prize.


I was fortunate enough to induce on to the end of my line two star fish and a crab, thereby obtaining a very nice box of handkerchiefs.



On Thursday September 23rd, Sir Arthur Woolerton took a party of us over Walmer castle which was most interesting. Incidentally we saw the room in which the Duke of Wellington died.



During the night two ships had been torpedoed just off the coast, and on Friday 24th September we observed the result.


One of the ships was carrying oil, which escaped, and for a large expanse the sea was absolutely "as smooth as a mill pond", and the odour from the oil was very strong. The smoothness of the sea where the oil was floating made it possible for one to imagine how the sea was calmed some years ago when the S S "Volturno" was sinking during a heavy storm in the Atlantic, and by this means many lives were saved.



I had been told that I was to be discharged from hospital in a few days, and Lady Matthews kindly invited me to dinner with her and her family on Sunday 17th October.


After dinner we had a walk, returned to tea, and later went back to the hospital.


I might mention that Lady Sergeant and Lady Matthews were very kind to me, and I would be allowed out of hospital especially to have a game of tennis occasionally with their daughters - a privilege which I was most pleased to accept - and many an afternoon I enjoyed with these girls.



On Tuesday 19th October I left hospital at Walmer and, with about 20 others went to the station to catch the train. As is the custom when a party was leaving hospital, most of the men who could walk came to the station to give those departing a cheer, as it was always understood they were taking their first step towards again returning to France.


We got a good send off and arrived at Shorncliffe station about 9.30 am.


We were then met by ambulances and taken up the hill to the very large Canadian hospital there, where we got fresh issues of clothing and leave for 10 days.


On the way up the hill our ambulance had a collision, and we finished the journey with the two front wheels pointing towards one another.


About midday I sent a wire to my sister stating the time of the train I was catching and arrival at London Bridge, where I was met by her.


After a cup of tea at a shop nearby, we caught a train to Balham.


It was rather funny that at Balham station when we were getting into a taxi for home, I'd gave the wrong address, and was almost ready to argue that the address I mentioned was that of home, but, as a matter of fact it was the address of a friend who lives nearby.


I spent the evening at home, very content to think that once more I was within the family circle.


My 10 days leave were occupied in a visiting friends, etc, and, although on the whole I had a very quiet time, it flew rapidly by.


On one day I was taken rather queer and was forced to the conclusion that I had left hospital before I was fit.



My leave expired on Friday 29th October, and I reported to the headquarters of the 1st Battalion Queen's Westminster Rifles at Richmond, and as instructed reported to the doctor, who, however, ordered me back to hospital.



As I had brought nothing with me, he extended my pass for another day, so that I could go home, and next morning, Saturday 30th October I went to Richmond, and from there was sent to the 2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea (St Mark's College), and was ordered to bed, and did not get up for nearly a fortnight.



On Thursday 11th November, I was getting on pretty well but the doctor in charge thought that I was unlikely to become fit, and I had my papers filled in for discharge from the army.



On Friday 12th November, I was allowed up, and in the afternoon went for a motor drive and tea at a house in the West End.


This I might mention was the first time I had been out with a lady driving the motor car.


We went through St James Park and saw the captured German Guns, aeroplane, torpedo and search light which were on the exhibition there.



On Monday 15th November there was a death in the ward in which I was, of an Irish soldier, (Private Walsh), and he was a Catholic.


About six o'clock in the evening the priest administered the last Sacraments, and he asked me to serve, which I readily did.



On Tuesday 16th November I went before a medical board and was proposed for discharge. Not feeling as if I would like to get out of the army after having been through a part of the campaign, I asked that I might not be discharged, and was therefore placed on Home Service, which requested was acceded to.


After this date I was allowed out several times for motor drives.



On Saturday 20th November, I went for a trip through Epsom, Chessington and Surbiton, Sir Albert Stanley and Lady Stanley entertained us to tea. It is interesting in this connection that Sir Albert Stanley has lately taken over the presidency of the Board of Trade under the Ministry of Mr Lloyd George.



On Monday 29th November I was informed that I was to be transferred to the military convalescent hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom, and at about 10.30 am, with two or three others I got into a motor and proceeded on our way.


The driver, however, did not know his way, but I had a fair idea. We were also, however, by no means anxious to get too quickly to Epsom, so the poor driver was induced to take a route via Wimbledon, Kingston, Hampton Court, Chessington, Leatherhead, and thence to Epsom, having done about twice the actual distance.


In the afternoon I got out of hospital and went home, and on several afternoons I was able to do this.


I was ordered massage treatment which took up a fair amount of my time, but this did not often interfere with my trips to Streatham.



On a Thursday 2nd December I had the pleasure of meeting in Epsom a member of the Westminsters signal section who was in a hospital nearby, and I managed to get some of the latest news regarding the movements of the deer old "Westminsters".



As the troops in the hospital were to be entertained by various ladies and a certain celebrations were to take place on Christmas Day, an order was issued that no leave was to be given at Christmas time.


On hearing this I awaited my opportunity and seeing the Colonel around the camp, got him and asked if he would allow me to get home for Christmas. He, however, said that it was impossible.


There was therefore no other means open but to take leave, which I accordingly did, and for a very small sum the sergeant in charge of the ward in which I was placed, arranged that he would not mark me absent.


I got home about eight o'clock and sat up until I turned out about 11.30 pm to attend midnight Mass at St Anselm's, Tooting Bec. We got back about 3.00 am.



On Christmas Day, 25th December, I caught the train over to Sydenham where I was to spend Christmas.


It is interesting to note that not only soldiers absent themselves, but also naval officers, which is illustrated by the fact that one of my brothers who was home on leave from the Dardenelles whilst his ship was in port at Naples, was due back yesterday, but he also, was with us on Christmas Day.



We had a very jolly Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, and on the Monday, 27th December, my brother proceeded to join his ship at Naples and I went back to hospital, and I was pleased to find there was no trouble regarding my absence.



The next day, Tuesday 28th December, the Colonel sent for me, which, by the way put me in great fear, and asked me if I would like to attend a retreat at Isleworth, which I was very pleased to accept.


We got off in charabancs about 10 o'clock and a arrived at Isleworth about noon.



The retreat finished on Thursday, 30th December with a visit to Westminster Cathedral and an audience with Cardinal Bourne.


After this we had tea on the premises of the Catholic Women's League, and with father Plater S J, returned to hospital.


There are no further events that I can call to mind, and the year of 1915 which had been so eventful for me passed away, but the memory of the incidents in the first portion of the year, and the incidents of the latter portion, so happily, will be ever in my memory.





Diary Overview Diary Home Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Epilogue Some Pictures