Monday 27 June 2016

Will Sidney's War - June 1918 - "In the Dock"

On 1 July 2016, it will be 100 years since the commencement of the Battle of the Somme.  From Will's war diaries it seems that whilst this battle was taking place, he was in England, between postings.

We now pick Will's story up in May 1918, where Will was with the 9th York & Lancs on the Italian front line and starting to feel unwell. If you are new to Will's story and want to catch up with previous posts then you can find them here.

The first entry which alludes to Will feeling ill was on 21 May 1918 where he writes that he went to the doctors for dressings on his face and arms.  There is no mention as to what happened to cause the need for these dressings.

On 25 May, Will writes ... "Landed back @ 4.10. Very bad & tired. Temp 100.2. I wish Ethel was here to help me."

He is clearly not well at all and we pick back up with Will's diary on 26 May 1918 ...
"26 Sunday - West Yorks relieved us & we marched from supports to 41/2 kilos past Granezza. Fell on the roadside. Temperature 102. A touch of fever, sent into hospital"
"27 Monday - DRS. Temp 102. Thinking of Darling Ethel. No chance to write. Very bad. Put onto milk diet (baby food). Feeling a bit better."
"28 Tuesday - Feeling a little better but my throat & back very painful. Thinking of Ethel. Wishing she was here to nurse me."
"29 Wednesday - Still in Dock. Feeling pretty bad. Thinking of Darling Ethel. My throat is sore. Taking me all my time to walk."
 "30 Thursday - Still in Dock. Still in bed. Thinking of Darling Ethel. Wish she was here or I there & then everything would be all right. Bless her."
"31 Friday - Still in Dock. My throat & arm very bad. Still in bandages & under the doctor. No better."
"1 JUNE, Saturday - Still in Dock & under doctor. Writ to Ethel. Wishing she was here or I was there with her. Rumours of leave starting." 
When Will refers to being 'in the Dock', this means he was in hospital. This was the first week of what ended up being a long stay for Will, though not always in the same hospital.

It is also interesting to read Will's mention of leave. He is obviously hoping to get a bit of time off for a visit home.

The following week finds Will still 'in the Dock' ...
"2 Sunday - Still in Dock under Doc. My hand still in bandages. Face not quite better. I wish it was so as I could see about my leave."
"3 Monday - Still in Dock. Bandages on my face & neck. No letters from anybody. Thinking of Darling Ethel. Writ to Ma."
"4 Tuesday - Still in Dock. Doctor wanted to lance my neck but I wouldn't let him."
"5 Wednesday - Still same place. My neck not so painful. Swelling going down nicely"
"6 Thursday - Same place. Seen Doctor. Moved me to our Transport lines with 2 days rations. Landed @ 6 o'clock at night."
"7 Friday - Went to see an American Doc. Got ED & rot .... Thinking of Ethel. God Bless her. I hope to see her soon."
"8 Saturday - Still under the Doctor for treatment. Abscess on the neck. Letter from Rosie, Leeds, with cigs. Doctor (Batt) says my neck is caused by the wound."
Some of the writing for this part of Will's diary is very hard to decipher, especially on the 8th. If it is that Will's neck problem is caused by 'the wound', there is no indication anywhere of how this wound has occurred.

"9 Sunday - Sent into Hosp again for operation on the neck. Writ to Ethel telling her. (Bless her)."
"10 Monday - Still in Dock with stiff neck. Sweating on ... Writ to Ma & Rosie, Leeds. Very, very hot day. Thinking of Darling Ethel. God bless & protect her from harm."
"11 Tuesday - Still in Dock under Doctor. Neck going down nicely. Thinking of Ethel. Hoping to see her before long. Writ to Charlie @ France."
"12 Wednesday - Still in Dock under Doc. Neck still swelled. Doctor says he will put the knife in. Thinking of Darling Ethel. Bless her."
"13 Thursday - Still in Dock. Neck going down. Hoping to be discharged any time. Writ to Jim & Ada. Doc says my neck is much better. No knife."
"14 Friday - As per usual, waiting for the Doctor's verdict. Told me it is getting alright. Had two letters from Darling Ethel & answered them."
"15 Saturday - Doctor removed me to the CCS. Landed @ 8pm. Waited for dressing & back @ 10pm. No letters come through from 17 May. Very anxious about Ethel."
The entry on 11 June is the first time we have heard mention of Will's brother Charlie since 27 July, the previous year, when he was thrown by a mule on sports day and broke his collar bone. You can read more about this here.

The following week finds Will waiting at the CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) for transport back to the base ...
"16 Sunday - Still @ CCS. Nothing doing. Can't write on account of no paper. Worse luck. Thinking of Darling Ethel. God bless her."
"17 Monday - Still in CCS. Expecting to be shifted to the base. Not moved yet. Train full up."
"18 Tuesday - Still waiting to go down. No train to take us. Thinking of Darling Ethel."
"19 Wednesday - Wish I could write to her & let her know where I am. Still here."
"20 Thursday - Still @ CCS. Expecting to be moved. Rained heavens high all day, nearly got washed away. No news of anybody."
"21 Friday & 22 Saturday - Got orders to move to the base. On the train all day & all through the night. Arrived @ Genoa @ 1.30. Went to the 51st Stationary Hospital 'A'. Couldn't write on account of having no paper."
We found this photograph in Will's things. It would appear that it was taken whilst he was in hospital. We have no idea whether it was taken in the 51st Stationary Hospital or some other, but thought it was definnitely worth sharing at this point.

From Will's note on the back, you can see that he has marked himself on the photograph with an 'X' above his head. Can you find him? Will spends the rest of June in the hospital waiting for a Medical Board, but somehow, with his stiff and painful neck, manages to fit a skating session in ...

"23 Sunday - No paper or envelope or I would write to Darling Ethel. Waiting for the Doc's verdict. Doctor didn't come."
"24 - 26 Monday - Wednesday - Doctor put me on a Board. Had a walk into Genoa. Went into the Con Camp short arms inspection. Thinking of Darling Ethel. I wish I could write. Inspection by the MC. Marked 'B'. 2 hours a day waiting for a medical board."
"27 Thursday - Writ to Darling Ethel. My neck being managed. Writ to Ma & cousin Rosie. @ the Con Depot. My papers came through for a Board."
"28 Friday - Thinking of Darling Ethel. My neck is very stiff. Waiting for a letter from Ethel."
"29 Saturday - My neck feeling very stiff & sore. Waiting for a Medical Board. I am anxiously waiting for a letter from Ethel. Got invited to an Italian skating rink. Had a good skate with Chuck Blake (KOLYIs)." 
The 'B' that Will was marked as by the MC is an army medical category, used in WW1, meaning that Will was ...
"Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of communication in France, or in garrisons in the tropics."
You will be able to find out what this meant for Will in my next post.

Monday 20 June 2016

HM@No27 - Armitage Village Day

This weekend found us out and about, for the first time this year, with our Hand Made at Number 27 craft stall at the Armitage Village Day.

I'd been preparing for what seemed like ages and had lots of lovely new things, as well as plenty of old favourites for sale.

It's only the second time we've taken Hand Made at Number 27's wares out on the road, so we were a bit nervous, but excited too.

We were up early, car loaded and soon on our way.
As well as having to make sure we had plenty of lovely bits and pieces for sale we'd also had to contend with a 'Queen's 90th Birthday' stall theme. We kind of found this out by accident and, after getting over the initial panic, doing a bit of cutting and sticking and a fair bit of borrowing, we managed to come up with something that we felt would look as though we'd made a good effort.

After a couple of hours unpacking, placing and replacing, lots of sticking, we felt ready ...
We were really pleased with how it turned out. We had lots of compliments on how lovely it all looked and, what started out as a token gesture on the theme front, only went and ended up winning us first prize. We were well chuffed to say the least.

As well as meeting lots of lovely people whilst manning the stall, we did manage to have a bit of a wander round and there was plenty to see and do. The cup cake stall was just amazing and well worthy of a collage just to itself ...
It was a typical English village fete, with a lovely atmosphere, plenty of refreshments courtesy of the local WI, and lots going on. We were lucky enough to be blessed by some decent weather, following all of the rain we have had over the last week or so.
The sun was still shining and there were still plenty of people around when we left. There was still the evening entertainment and fireworks to come.
Here are a few of the bits and pieces that we had on sale today. If there is anything that takes your fancy just hop on over to my Hand Made at Number 27's Facebook page. There is a link in the left hand menu bar. Hope to see you there.
We had a lovely afternoon and are looking forward to another trip out to another school Summer fete in a few weeks time.  Isn't that right Martin?

Monday 13 June 2016

Beautiful Britain - Scarborough, North Yorkshire

The last of my North Yorkshire coast holiday posts finds us in Scarborough. Love it or hate it, and I'm not sure which I actually do, it's always worth a visit when we are up that way.
It was a lovely bright day and the seafront was heaving with visitors enjoying a day in the sunshine by the sea ... It's most definitely not a place to visit if you're looking for peace and tranquility!

We parked up in the town centre and had a gentle wander down the hill, nipping in and out of pretty little shops, coming out about half way along the seafront.
We made our way towards the North end along the front, passing the craziness of Scarborough on a very busy sunny afternoon.  

We were heading for the sea food hut, where we picked up lunch, a lovely fresh prawn sandwich for me and Martin's favourite crab baguette for him.

We carried on, past the funfair and along the most Northern pier.
We enjoyed an Al fresco lunch under the gaze of the 'Bathing Belle', with great views back across the fishing pier to town, and the castle in the distance.
After lunch we headed back along the seafront towards the cliff railway. You've just gotta love a cliff railway.

We took the cliff railway back up to the top, where it was a little quieter and you could see some of the old grandeur of the town, as well some amazing views back across the bay.

It was then time to wrap up our visit to Scarborough.

So, that's it from me for the North Yorkshire coast, for now. I just know we will be back, and next time ... we may even catch the 'Tour de Yorkshire'.

Monday 6 June 2016

Beautiful Britain - Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire

Although hailing from Yorkshire, Martin hadn't visited Robin Hoods Bay since childhood and it was somewhere I'd never been so we decided we would make the effort to visit on our wedding anniversary.

I say 'effort', as it's one of those places where you park at the top and walk down and, unlike the very lovely Clovelly and Polperro, there is no sneaky little landrover or horse drawn cart to bring you back up.

We were both a bit wary as neither of us are at the peak of fitness, and that is putting it mildly, but we both really wanted to see the bottom part of the village.

We headed out from Wykewood in brilliant sunshine and dressed for the weather. As we hit the main road we were a bit surprised to see a bank of very low cloud and mist, which appeared to be hanging directly over Robin Hood's Bay.

Undeterred we made our way through the cloud and were pleased to find it was considerably brighter when getting a bit lower down into the village. We parked up and started to make our way down the main road.

Our plan was to hit a recommended fish and chip shop at the bottom and find somewhere in the sunshine to sit and eat our anniversary lunch.

We called into the first little gift shop we passed and were pleased that we did. The owner very kindly shared with us a map of the village, and pointed out all the little cut throughs, as well as a less arduous way back up.

We slowly made our way down to the bottom, passing lots of quaint little cobbled footpaths leading in and out of the houses, most of which appear to have no vehicular access at all, so unpacking g a weekly shop must be a bit of a nightmare.
The lady in the gift shop had told us that all of the little access paths were open for public access so we wandered up and down a few marveling at the pretty little houses we found.

At the bottom there is a cafe and a couple of little moochy shops.  It was quite busy with people, having made their way down, deciding where to go next.
We had a mooch round a little antique shop before spotting a sign leading up some steps to the quarterdeck and I went up on a recce to find a lovely quiet and sheltered spot, overlooking the beach, with plenty of benches, which would be an ideal lunch spot.
It was then back to the chippy, tucked away down a little side street for fish and chips for Martin and Whitby scampi and chips for me.

We were soon sat in the sunshine, the mandatory selfies took and posted to Facebook, and enjoying some cracking fish and chips.  We would definitely pass on the recommendation, it was most certainly worth the walk down.
It was soon time to think about the climb back up the hill to the car and we took the advice we'd been given and went back a different way, in and out of the small cobbled alleys, sneaking peeks into peoples' front rooms and lives on the way.
It was a far easier trek back up than we thought it would be and it was just the very last bit that felt like a bit of an effort.

So, another lovely little place visited and stored away in the memory bank. If you're thinking of visiting Robin Hood's Bay, do. Don't be daunted by the walk and the steep hill, it's definitely worth the effort, especially if you have a fish and trip treat at the bottom.