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Charles Binyon's diary: November 1917

Diary Entry

NOV 1 Thursday – In the morning to the Office.  Made up the Cash Book to date and checked the Army Canteen account.  The truck shortage has been very bad this week – a little better today.  We have secured 4 trucks.  Afternoon answering letters.  Dug a little more Belladonna.  I have arranged with Reed to have Garnetts ploughed with the motor plough, as soon as possible, 20 bags Sprouts today.  They are making 8/6 at Liverpool.  Poor quality onions 30/- cost.  The townspeople are suffering from a potato shortage.  They all appear to think this is owing to the controlled price.  But surely at 1¼lb. maximum price to the consumer, this is a cheap food as things go now.  There was a debate last night in the Commons on the subject. The Germans are approaching the Tagliamento.  The threat from the north (Carnic Alpo) seems serious.  The Germans claim 120,000 prisoners now.  All the British Guns saved.

Our men made an air raid on Volkingen steel works.  Submarine bulletin:- Arrivals 2,285 Sailings 2321.  Total 4606.  Large ships sunk 14 Small 4 One only unsuccessfully attacked.  There appears to have been some fighting at Gaza, and in German East Africa which by now is nearly all in our hands.  Recruiting is now taken out of the hands of the military and handed over to National Service.  Air Raid on London again – no particulars yet.  Produce Committee (LBG) in the evening to consider the results of the contracts with Cadbury’s.

NOV 2 Friday – All belladonna now packed.  The stems today have been fetched up from Aldington and the consignment is ready to go off.  This evening at HJC’s, Kathie’s birthday.  Regular November day, dull with drizzle.  3 speed fitted back on Jo.

News from Italy no better, Germans say they have taken another 60,000 prisoners.

Beersheba has been captured by Gen. Allenby.  Sir Eric Geddes in Parliament says 40 to 50% of U boats have been lost.  2½ million tons of our shipping sunk 14% of our total.

NOV 3 Saturday – Drying shed. A.J.T. & Co got down all the dry Belladonna stems.  These were sent off to the kilns to be packed under pressure.  The sage was tested and works out at just under ¼ of the Green weight.  This is after being stripped dry.  Better than I expected.  No truck to be had, except on open one without a sheet.  Italy seems to be going to make a stand on the Tagliamento, but it is significant that they seem uneasy about Venice.  Better news from France where, in consequence of the victory on Oct 23, the French have forced the Germans to retreat along a 12 mile front, leaving the Chemin des Dames ridge.  Hertling is the new German Chancellor in place of Michaelis.  Despatch from Sir J. Anderson Gov of Ceylon about the shooting of natives without trial published.  Officials implicated only deprived of their office.  The Governor regretted that more stringent measures were not possible as they had been indemnified before.  At Romily the crowds have seized the milk carts and handed the milk to the Local Food Control Committee.  Letter came today from H.D.B. He wants more Leaf next year if possible.

Kerensky says Russia is worn out.

NOV 4 Sunday – Badsey Ch.  In the afternoon on so to Childswyckham, Stanton, Stanway and up the hill to Stumps Cross.  The tints seem now at their best.  The Elms are yellow ochre, the Oaks a warmer yellow.  Horse Chestnuts bright yellow the few leaves that remain.  The Cotswold copses are beautiful with beeches a rich burnt sienna and the larches a pale yellow.  I came back along the tops of the hills past Stanway Ash Plantation (half of which is cut down) through Snowshill to Broadway Hill, past the Tower and the Fish.  A copse on the way down was glorious birches in the foreground-a straw colour, then the deeper yellow of the larches mixed with the dark green of firs, all with a rich background of beech.  Glorious day.  I wrote this evening a long letter to F.D.B. for his birthday.

NOV 5 Monday – The youngsters are excited this morning because an aeroplane came down yesterday afternoon near Weston with 2 machine guns and bombs.  Very dull day.  The G.W.R. produced a covered van so my men came down to the Drying Shed and loaded it.  2812lb. leaves 2500lb. stems.  Total of Leaves for the whole season 10 tons 0c lbs.  A further consignment of stems is to go when packed.  I was too late to get to the R.D.C. Highway Committee – the only thing of note in the report was that the Stone Control Board only allowed us 165 tons for the certain specified roads, instead of 1,500 tons.  At the Sanitary Committee we discussed the formation of the Ministry of Health with Dr. Fosbroke.  Miss McConnell asked for an increase of salary owing to the heavy work involved by the Food Control.  £25 recommended.

Nothing special at the Board of Guardians.  At the Rural District Council meeting we voted £50 toward the Fund for providing food etc for our prisoners of war in Germany and Turkey.  Our sanitary report was adopted.  Food Control Meeting followed.  We fixed maximum meat prices, and decided to appoint an Economy committee to educate the public, as to the great need of economy in food etc.  After Mr. Smithen and I consulted as to coal prices and arrived at a compromise, which we hope will work well.  I left the Workhouse at 3 pm.  Visited Wright next and had a talk with him about German Prisoners and advisory committees etc.

Today’s news:- Lloyd George, Smuts & Sir W. Robertson have left for an allied council in Italy. Advance near Gaza.  We took 300 Turks prisoner. Naval fight in the Kattagat.  Our men have sunk a German auxiliary cruiser with 6” guns and 10 patrol vessels and rescued 64 prisoners.  No British loss.

NOV 6 TuesdayChurchill tells me the aeroplane that came down carried 6 bombs, two machine guns all fully loaded.  There seems no doubt it & its companions were on their way to Ireland where another Sinn Fein Rebellion was expected as all leave was cancelled in certain regiments.  All appears quiet however. Went to Office as usual. Growers Pay £378 this week.  Sprouts 5/6 Toms 3/6 Blenheims 17/- Pot. all clear.  Dug some more roots.  Mr. Pickard, Cadbury’s buyer had an interview with us.  He seems a keen, sensible man.  I put the question of summer labour to him. I hoped he would not rob the land of women labour in summer.  He made a note.  War Savings: we took nearly £12.  H. Hall lent me Land & Water.  Belloc takes a very serious view of the Italian disaster.  He says it shows that Germany has left Russia out, as being no longer to be feared, and that she hopes to do the same with Italy and so concentrate on England and France. I see English troops have arrived in Italy but the Germans have crossed the Tagliamento in one place.  Visited Geof. Jones at night.  Reading about the siege of Londonderry in Mcauley.

NOV 7 Wednesday – Wet each night, fine by day.  37 pots of sprouts sent off to Liverpool today.  67 pots off one plot, [?] chains so far.  Went to the Shed.  We had the Engine Running today.  It has been idle since Oct 26.  Cabinets contain about 25Ȼ Root, some Stems & Sage.  Men digging up Bella’root at Sand.  We have lifted over 5Ȼ now.  Waderns rang me up to say Coal Merchants wanted a conference before the prices are fixed.  We fixed up for next Monday.  They want more money for delivery.

Today’s news:- Capture of Passchendale in spite of Hindenburg’s command to hold it at all costs.  This gives us the command of the whole ridge.  We need cheering news for that from Italy is very bad.  The line of the Tagliamento has been forced, and it is supposed that the Piave will be the new line.  This shortens the line very considerably, which fact cuts both ways.  Venice looks in danger.  Bacon 2/-lb. and lard nearly unobtainable.

In the evening I finished distributing the bread Tickets at Badsey, and paid Kim his rent.

NOV 8 Thursday – Dull & Rainy.  My men got up some more Belladonna Root and washed a lot of it.  Went to Kilns to ask Daniels to make a return as to the quantities dried by him there. Then to Offenham to make enquiries about a man “employed in agriculture”.  He had joined the army two years ago!  Came back to office.  Cheques for £835 from Bowden.  I visited Cadbury’s Factory and watched the onions being prepared. They have offered to let me try some Belladonna in their plant, and said they would like to experiment with ours.  So I think we shall be able to make some improvements.  Mr. Parish is the engineer in charge.  Today’s news: – Submarine Record Arrivals 2384 Sailings 2379 Total 4763.  8 large ships sunk 4 small ones.  This is the best week since unrestricted sinking began last February.  No fishing vessel has been sunk for a month! Advance in Palestine and capture of Gaza.  Our troops now 35 miles from Jerusalem.  The Italians have withdrawn to the Livenza but it is doubtful whether they will be able to hold this line.  Italy seems to be very short of food and coal, which means trouble if this cannot be altered.  Another revolt in Russia.  Maximalists have seized public buildings in Petrograd.

NOV 9 Friday – Showery but bright intervals. Belladonna Roots at the Sand are now all dug, that is the three year olds.  They averaged 2lbs. to the plant.  They are all washed and ready to go down to the Drying Shed.  It is a big job getting them ready.  It took nearly 3 days to do this lot half-a-ton.  At about 3 pm Reed brought up his Motor Plough and started work at Garnetts.  After the first it did its work capitally.  It is a Fowler Wyles 11 H.P.

News: – The Revolt in Russia has developed into a Revolution.  Kerensky deposed and in flight.  Lenin and Trotsky are the leaders.  The offer of an immediate democratic peace is their first plank, and the handing over of the large proprietonal lands to the peasants the second.  The Italians are still retiring.  German advance divisions have crossed the Livenza.  We have captured Tekrit on the Tigris 90 miles above Bagdad.  Abolition of minimum price for Potatoes announced, growers to receive a grant.

NOV 10 Sat – Much rain in the night, so we could not get on with the ploughing.   Henbane (Very cold. N. wind) seed cut some time was thrashed.  We got out 18 lbs, but not of very good quality.  We had a day at the Drying Shed.  AJT managing the boiler and engine.  We have now nearly 2½ tons of Root drying.  I watched two Titan tractors at work.  They ploughed fast three furrows but it was not deep, but they did about 3 acres in two days or so.  Packed a splendid lot of Blenheims for H D Bowden.  Not much news The Italians seem to be a little more rallied and confident.  An allied War Council for the whole Western Front is announced.  Cadorna for Italy.  Fresh progress in Palestine.  Kerensky seems to have joined Korniloff and is reported marching on Petrograd.

NOV 11 Sunday – Badsey Ch.  Sermon on Hosea.  At 2pm I went on Jo to Cleeve Mill, Marlcliff, Barton, Dorsington, Pebworth, Honeybourne & Bretforton.  Dull but fine.  The trees are nearly all bare now, except the Oak and Elm.  These last have a fine bright brown, but are nearly bare.  At a hasty glance they almost appear as if they were shooting in spring.  The Oaks are darker.  The hedges are finely coloured. The haws are so plentiful that the hedges in places appear crimson.  Brambles all colours.  Church at night.

NOV 12 Monday – Very dull with showers.  ‘Bower Cutting’ & Sprout Picking.  Visited Shed and Office.  No trucks at all today!  To Evesham via Offenham Cross. Police Court.  Case of sheep straying 2/6.  Bicycle without lights 7/6 and order to destroy dangerous dog.  Came back to dinner.  Back to the Union to meet the Coal Merchants, not a very satisfactory meeting. They said our prices were absolutely unworkable and said they wanted much more.  I was not at all convinced that they have complied with the order and did not want prices altered, but was overridded and could only effect a comprise!  Ton Lots best quality to be 38/- ton in Badsey.  Bright House Coal 1/11 cwt in bags (singly).  Then to the Town Hall to the Food Production Committee.  Mr. Bomford in the chair in the absence of Mr. Fisher – a great improvement to my mind.  Mr. Lander does not approve of any other crop than Potatoes or Wheat being in the compulsory schedule.  We passed a resolution urging the retention of the guaranteed price for 1918 harvest of Potatoes.  News today:- Threat to the Italians from the North.  Germans claim capture of Asiago.  The Piave line seems to be holding.  Another advance near Passchendale, some of this was lost by fierce German counter attacks.  Rapid progress in the Holy Land.  Fighting in Petrograd and Moscow.

NOV 13 Tuesday – Digging Belladonna Roots under Badsey – every third row.  To office-weekly pay £324 for Produce.  Sprouts 5/9.  Parsnips 3/- bag.  Some of Cadbury’s engineering staff came to see about experimenting in our Drying Shed.  They want to hire it for one week for Potato drying.  In the afternoon under Badsey.  Brighter day but misty. In the evening calculated cost of drying at Kilns & Shed.  News today:- more fighting in Petrograd.  The Italians appear to be holding the Piave and the Asiago plateau.  Advance in Palestine continues.  25 miles from Jerusalem.  Lloyd George made a speech in France in which he described the inconceivable blunders of the Allies and lack of Unity.  He said the new Supreme Council was intended to be a real power in the coordination of their military efforts.  Sir A. Yapp announces the new Voluntary Food Rations.  Men on the land 8lb of bread per week 2lb meat 10oz butter etc 8oz sugar.  Cereals other than bread 12oz.  At our War Savings we took £6-11-0.

NOV 14 Wednesday – 40 bags Sprouts picked.  To office and shed. Engine running.  Wrote to G. Cadbury Jr. about our shed.  Afternoon at Evesham.  To Cox’s Office to consult about a case.  To Webb’s office to pay the rent of various grounds.  Then to Church Room to hear Rev. Maynard Smith on Sunday Schools, who gave what I thought was an excellent address. Tea.  Then to Wright’s office to enquire as to when the prisoners were coming.  They are to come after doing T. Sears’ land.  Talk with Gardner of Pinvin.  Afterwards to Council Chamber to meeting to organize raising of money for the Y.M.C.A.  Wonderful speaker named Brown, who painted the battlefield in most vivid and realistic terms.  Back with Anderson.  Fine day.

Lloyd George’s speech has created consternation in many circles.  It is considered a very grave reflection on Sir D. Haig and Sir W. Robertson.  He is to interpret it in the House of Commons.  Very conflicting news from Russia.  The Germans has crossed the Piave at one spot, and also taken Fonsaza. Not a very cheering budget. 

NOV 15 Thursday – The Motor Plough again at work, Bower cutting and burning.  Belladonna Roots got up.  Drying of Roots going on – rather a slow process.  Fixed up price of Fish Guano with F. Bubb.  £17 a ton less 5% for cash.  Fine day.  At Beetledrive in the evening.

News :- Fierce German attack on Passchendale failed.  The Italians are evidently making a stand, although the Germans have crossed the Piave at Grisolera near the mouth.  The Italians say they are held there.  Russia continues a mystery.  Further advance in Palestine, but a monitor and a destroyer have been torpedoed.  Genl. Maude has withdrawn his forces from Tekrit.  Submarine bulletin:- 2125 arrivals, 2307 sailings 4432 Total.  One large ship sank 5 small ones.  Much the best return we have had for months.  Sir A. Geddes says “that occupation” not age the test for recruiting.

NOV 16 Friday – Motor Plough still at work.  We sent down 800lb of Belladonna Roots to the Shed today.  Sent off samples of dried Sage – one at £45, the other £85 (ton).  Arranged with Mr. Parish to hand over the shed for week beginning DEC 3rd.  Another Fine Day.  Wickhamford at night.  Interesting talk with George Cox about Flanders and Canada.  News :- The Italians are making a determined stand on the Piave.  No advance reported except a slight one near Feltre (Mt. Tomatico).  Lord Northcliffe declines post as Air Minister- he wishes to be free to criticize!

NOV 17 Saturday – The Motor Plough has finished the 1¼ acres.  Charge £2-6-0 per acre.  It was a very severe test, but it has made quite a good job of it.  All Belladonna roots now dug.  Digging Dwarf Bean ground under Badsey.  Visited shed, and spread the fresh wet roots on trays on the floor to thoroughly drain.  I planted about 400 bulbs of Colchicum at the Sand.  1st lot cultivated here.  Lots of new orders out.  Offals – sharps to be £14-0-0 a ton.  An Economy campaign is to be started – not only food but all imports and scrap metal etc. 

New dark suit delivered.

Lord Cowdray has resigned his post as President of the Air Board and no wonder after it had been offered to Northcliffe behind his back.  Feeling still runs high on the Paris speech. Good news from Italy.  In spite of very violent attacks the line holds.  Genl. Allenby continues his progress.  He has captured part of the Line to Jerusalem, and is nearing Jaffa.  Nothing definite from Russia.

NOV 18 Sunday – Fine but dull.  Church 8 am.  Read Bond’s Gothic Architecture on London tracery.  After dinner walked to Evesham to a meeting at which George Nichols (at one time M.P.) spoke.  He took as his subject “Sheaves” and showed how much of the difference in the ears of corn was due to environment.  Lesson not to judge others.  He remembered our Housing Schemes. Evening Church at Badsey.

Rumoured naval engagement near Heligoland.

NOV 19 Monday – Fine.  Dull.  Walked to Evesham with J. E. Knight & H. Hall and caught 9.16 train.  Had a chat with C. S. Martin about drying.  He recommended Carrots.  Train very full.  Arrived at Paddington at 12.30 thence by Bishop’s Rd to Aldgate.  Got rooms at the May Tree in the Minories.  Walked to Monument went up.  Not very clear.  Thence to S. Pauls and Ludgate Circus to the Temple Church, which I much admire.  We took a train to Westminster.  Peeked in the Abbey.  Saw Downing St and had Tea, (2oz of bread 2/7oz sugar!)  Then to the Houses of Parliament, where we waited about an hour and secured places in the gallery.  A critical debate was in progress.  Lloyd George had made his defence before we arrived.  Two military men spoke as soon as we were in, then Wedgwood very effective but not I think quite sound.  He said advances in Flanders should not have taken place in the mud.  He was answered by Greenwood who said Parliament could not critize soldiers and that now we were on the ridges.  Hobhouse followed and asked how the supreme council would impose its will on a nation which did not agree to its conclusions.  Carson replied.  He said the situation would never arise, as the problems would be thrashed out by all the nations.  Page Croft criticised the retaining of inefficient commanders.  Then Lynd and Pringle condemned the prime minister, the latter in no uncertain terms – very scathing.  Bellairs followed and then King.  The motion was then withdrawn and the House went into Committee on the Parliament and Local Elections No. 2 Bill, which after received the third reading after which we came back to the May Tree.  It appeared evident that Lloyd George had secured a great triumph.  Genl. Maude’s death was announced tonight.  Capture of Jaffa.

NOV 20 Tuesday – We visited Petticoat Lane and Spitalfields Market.  Then tubed from Liverpool St. to Post Office.  Visited S. Bartholemew’s Smithfield and the Meat Market.  Then by Holborn, Lincoln Inn Fields to Covent Garden.  On to Strand, Trafalgar Sq. to the Horse Guards who were changing guard.  Then to Westminster Abbey, round the chapels.  It is curious to see many of the most celebrated tombs covered with sand bags.  After dinner we took the tram to Tooting Broadway and bus to Mitcham to Holborn Military Hospital, but Arthur Knight was out unfortunately, so we came back by bus  and interviewed the Food Production Department.  They told us the question of Market Garden Crops was having the very serious attention of Headquarters, and that they would write.  Thence to Mme Tussauds, and Maskeline & Devant. Home by Tube to Liverpool St.  Walked down Houndsditch.

Fierce fighting on Asiago plateau. Italian line still holds on the Piave.

NOV 21 Wednesday – Wet at first.  To Tower Bridge from whence we watched the loading of ships.  Then down by St. Katherine’s and London Docks to Shadwell.  Back by Cable St.  Afternoon we went on the top of a bus to the Albert Memorial, walked to the Serpentine and visited first the India Museum then the Imperial Institute Galleries – well worth a visit.  At South Kensington I parted with the rest and went back to the May Tree.  Bill quite moderate 14/11.  Thence to Hampstead from Aldgate via Euston Square and Warren St. stations.  Had an interesting talk in the evening with H.D.B.  We noticed signs of a raid in Shadwell and at Piccadilly Circus.  Swan and Edgars windows were still boarded up.  Bomb was dropped here on October 19th.

News of a great offensive in Flanders north of S. Quentin over 37 miles of front.  It is reported that our men have gone through the Hindenburg Lines in the Evening Papers.  Germans reported concentrating more on the Piave.

NOV 22 Thursday – By tube from Belsize Park to Liverpool St, thence to Egypt House to see Messrs. Davidson.  They wanted particulars of the coal consumption of our drying plant.  It works out at 3tons 8c per week of 72 hours.  I consulted them as to additional heat, and after consideration of various plans we considered the plan of turning the exhaust steam into a heater placed in front of the Fan Inlet would be best.

They will prepare an estimate.  They recommend speeding up the Fan.

Then I went to Connaught Rooms, where the Poor Law Conference was being held and met Mr. Masters.  There was a good deal of debate on the subject of the constitution of a Committee to coordinate the work of public authorities during the period of reconstruction after the war.  It was considered that the Poor Law should be represented on this Committee.  Lunch at the Holborn Restaurant.  Very understaffed and consequently slow.  Afterward we were told the Government had decided to remove the disfranchisement of outdoor relief recipients.  Then we resolved that victims from air raids should be treated exactly as if they were in His Majesty’s forces.  Then we had the question of children of soldiers being placed on the rates and separation allowance stopped, but it was pointed out that if they were in cottage homes the allowances would still be paid, so this was by no means a bad thing.  Then we discussed the Coal question.  I think Transport is at the bottom of this difficulty, as so many delegates said they could not obtain any coal at all.

Finally we had an interesting debate as to the detention of undesirables but on the whole we agreed that such a serious matter as interference of liberty of the subject should not be put into the hands of Boards of Guardians.  We broke up at 4 and I had tea with H. Masters.  Then to Stamfords to buy some maps.  Back to Hampstead by Tube.

Piave line still holding.  We have captured nearly 10,000 prisoners in the new push.

The Germans were absolutely unsuspecting.  We had no preliminary bombardment but held Tanks in huge quantities to break the wire.  The Cavalry have been in action.  We have taken Anneux, Graincourt, Harrincourt Ribecourt and later Fontaine Notre Dame.    Russia.  It is reported that Kerensky’s Troops have surrendered, and that negotiations for peace are to take place at once.  At home the obstinate conscientious objectors are to be disfranchised i.e. those who refused to do work of national importance.  Submarine report.  10 large ships sunk 7 small ones.  Arrivals 2531 Sailings 2463 Total 4994.  Our troops are now only five miles from Jerusalem.

NOV 23 Friday – Beautiful day.  By Tube to Oxford Circus then I walked to Parke Davis & Co.  HDB showed me their dugouts all sandbagged on top.  We then walked to Green Park to the National Health Insurance Commission in Buckingham Gate, and interviewed Dr McCleary.  He told me the cultivation of Belladonna and Henbane were both of great importance and that if any difficulty arose from the Food Production Department we were to refer them to him.   Then to the Poor Law Conference.   The question of child emigration came first.  Some said it was very wrong to send children to Canada then held it also the very best thing to do.  The conclusion I arrived at was that when there are very undesirable relations about it is best to send them to Canada.  In other cases at this time, girls should be sent but boys kept at home.  We again had the question of superseding the Guardians-this time discussing the L.C.C. Scheme.  It was described as the thin end of the wedge.  Then we considered old age pensions.  I voted for pressing the Government for more than the 7/6 now the maximum, but we were outvoted being told the time was not opportune.  The Salford Board wished to suspend the laws of Settlement during the war.  This was not agreed to.  Business finished 1.PM  I walked down to Waterloo Bridge and took a tram through Kennington, Brixton & Streatham to Mitcham and this time found Arthur Knight.  He cannot yet open his mouth wide nor shut one eye.  We strolled about a bit and then took a tram to Croydon where he had tea and visited the Parish Church (built of flint, fine high clerestory, Perp.)  Beautiful sunset on the way back, red, Venus very bright with 3 aeroplanes circling about.  I came back from Mitcham by bus to Oxford Circus. The search lights lit up about 5.30.  Many of them are in pairs.  Walked to Tottenham Court Road back by Tube.  Naval Airship seen twice.  Also balloons.

The Germans have retaken Fontaine, but everywhere else all our gains are held and we are only a few miles from Cambrai.  The Russian Army is being disbanded by Lenin the new leader.  Italians still firm.  Genl. Byng promoted.

NOV 24 Saturday – Beautiful day again with fresh breeze.  Telephoned to J.E.K. and arranged to meet at Trafalgar Square, where the Tank is being exhibited.  It is to be used for selling War Bonds.  It is khaki.  We then went by bus to the People’s Palace Mile End Road and spent a very interesting morning in examining the Zeppelin relics, German and English aeroplanes, the one Leiut. Warneford used to bring down the first Zeppelin is here, bombs, engines and some splendid photographs.  I was especially interested in some showing U. Boats submerged and just coming to the surface.  Then to Aldgate and by Metropolitan to Paddington, where J.E.K. and the Halls went off.  I went across Kensington Gardens by the Round Pond and had an hour in the Victoria & Albert museum.  Then by bus to Putney.  Search lights looked well from the river. Putney to Belsize Park 45 minutes.  Traffic in the streets quite noticeably less.  Rather more light at night.  Tubes and buses very crowded.  Fights to get on at the busy time.  Balloons keep sailing across.  Sometimes a naval airship.  Notices on lamp posts “shelter from air raid” are common in the West End.  In the City “Persons may take shelter here at their own risk”.  Vast numbers of soldiers about especially Canadians and Australians.  Food regulations at tea rigidly enforced.  Queues outside grocers for Tea.  Many shops unable to supply.  Lord Robert Cecil says Britain can have no dealings with the Lenin Government.  Genl. Byng is attacking again.  Very fierce fighting in Italy in which our allies are holding their own.

NOV 25 Sunday – Very bright sun with cold wind at first.  Later Snow showers. Snow actually on the ground for over an hour at midday.  High wind later very cold.  I walked to Parliament Hill and saw crater left by bomb.  It was quite round and clear cut about 20 feet across and 4 feet deep.  An adjoining pavilion had its windows all smashed and the window frames as well.  11AM. S. Michael’s Highgate.  A large number of C.L.B’s.  First we had the hymn “Now thank we all our God” on account of the victory near Cambrai.  Later on a thanksgiving for the Italian defence.  This makes the service more interesting but could easily be overdone.  Back over the Heath.  Several parts have been broken up for allotments. Crops are much too crowded as a rule and rather starved.  In the afternoon we visited the Joensarns and had Tea.

There is a splendid search light at the back here.

NOV 26 Monday – Hard Frost this morning.  Bright at first.  Wet later. I went by Bus to Charing Cross and walked along the Strand and Fleet St.  I examined Filing Cabinets and Safes.  Across Southwark Bridge (Footways only) to Bell’s United Asbestos Co, where I ordered some sheets for covering the Drying Cabinets.  Back to P.D & Co had lunch with H.D.B. at Slaters in Piccadilly.  Afterwards I went to Trafalgar Square and bought £5 War Bonds at the Tank.  The inside seems quite chockfull of machinery and guns.  There were two guns on each side and one in front.  Close by was a Russian gun which had been taken by the Germans and used against us.  It was taken at the Somme.  Then I went to the Food Production Department and saw C. S. Martin to enquire about wire bottoms for trays.  I got two address, but the material is likely to be very dear. 10d sq. foot or so.  I took the Tube from Trafalgar Square and left Paddington at 4.45 arriving at L & B 7.40.  We are allowed to keep the blinds up at night now.  Train very full as far as Charlbury.  Today’s news :- Desperate fighting for Bourlon Wood.  The village has been won and partly lost. The latest says we hold the wood.  Genl. Plumer is appointed to command our forces in Italy.  Sir W. R. Marshall in Mesopotamia.  The French have taken 800 prisoners in a “little operation” near Verdun.  The Italians have repulsed all attacks.  Fierce fighting at Monte Tomba.  The Germans do not seem to wish to treat with Lenin.  They stipulate the Russian Armies should withdraw 100 kilometres first.

NOV 27 Tuesday – Fine.  Very clear.  Bright intervals much milder.  Sand finished – all dug.  Savoys being fetched off the recreation ground.  To office.  Weekly pay £225.  Sprouts cheaper 3/10. War Savings – we took over £17.  Butter seems practically unobtainable now.  Anderson seems to be doing well with his collection for the Y.M.C.A.  So far he is promised £60.  News today:- we hold Boulon Wood, which is said to be a key position.  Situation the same in Italy.  It is now decided to increase the Army & Navy pay.  Minimum 1/6 a day for soldiers.  Death of Sir Starr Jameson (Leader of the celebrated Jameson Raid in 1895). Ld. Rothermere made Air Minister.

NOV 28 Wednesday – Visited Garnett’s.  All alleys out and parsnips are now being dug.  Went down to the Drying Shed and to Cadbury’s Factory.  They are doing onions still.  I had an interview with Mr. Barrow. They are going to put in two strips of Iron before the first heater in our shed.  This will increase the temperature according to Davidson’s.  Walked across to Aldington Kiln.  Daniels getting sage ready for packing.  Had a talk with Ollsen who says that pig keeping under the present regulations cannot be made to pay.  Fine day.  Jupiter near moon. 

Fierce fighting at Fontaine and Bourlon.  We have slightly advanced and taken 500 prisoners. The Italian still repulse heavy attacks.  Strike at Coventry among aeroplane workers.  The censoring of leaflets is causing much irritation.

NOV 29 Thursday – Fine again and very mild.  Visited Garnetts & Waldrons.  Seed runners want picking.  Interview with L. E. Horne to arrange auditing of Adult School Club accounts.  His eldest little boy is a bonnie little chap.  At the Drying Shed, Daniels and Ineson are packing the Belladonna Roots into bags to shift to the Kilns.  We sent down the last ½ ton of onions today.  We ordered today a sample order of second hand army boots.  We decided to order a safe at a cost of £18.  Went on Jo to the Union – Food Control Meeting.  Very few present.  Mr. Cope turned up again after his serious operation looking very well.  We decided to continue meat prices as before.  New method of Sugar Control now arranged.  The retailers will send to their customers a form on which a declaration is to be made, in exchange for which an individual card will be sent.  This is to meet the case of removals etc.  We had the question of coordination of Transport before us.  A return of every petrol driven vehicle delivering goods is to be made.  Overlapping of deliveries are to be done away with as far as possible.  I suggested writing to the Transport Officer, calling his attention to the great increase of work occasioned by the lack of trucks for perishable goods.  It was decided to do this.  The Seed Potatoes Order is now published £6-10-0 per ton is the maximum plus certain charges for special varieties and carriage etc.  A Tribunal followed Shelwardine was the military representative.  There were 15 cases.  Results Conditionally exempt 5.  Temporary Exemptions 7 Adjourned 2.  Found Unfit 1.  Two were cases reviewed by the military on the ground of dealing instead of producing.  These were granted temporary certificates.  It is a very difficult matter to deal with.

Lull in the fighting at Cambrai salient, and in Italy.  An enemy force of 3,500 in East Africa have surrendered unconditionally.  In Mesopotamia 1700 Turks have surrendered to the Russians!  There still appears to be spasmodic fighting on the Eastern Front.  Fraternising in one section, fighting fiercely in the next.  The Russian Army is said to be starving.  Submarine Record bad.  Arrivals 2058 Sailings 2122.  Total 4180.  14 large ships sunk 7 small.  Unsuccessfully attacked 7.  The total sailings seems to be steadily diminishing.

NOV 30 Friday – Fine and mild.  Jo has broken down in the back hub.  We have carted all the Root to the Kilns, also Sage and Stems.  Cadbury’s men are fixing the strips of Iron in the Heater.  Butter now exceedingly scarce.  Lord Lansdowne’s letter to the Daily Telegraph on War Aims has made a great stir.  He pleads for a statement from the Allies.  Russia and Germany are to negotiate.  Envoys to meet on Sunday.

Type of Document
Eighteen pages in a hard-covered notebook containing diary entries 1916-1919
Location of Document
In private ownership