Royal Flying Corps Diaries - Interesting days in 1917, October to December

(With comments by the website author in brackets)

Monday October 1st Arose at 7. Started machine guns (MG) this week. Usual parades. Sat around in spare moments talking. MG lectures from 5:30-6:30 and 9-10.

Thursday October 4th Arose at 6:15. On parade for day, raining and cold out. Few periods for study. Had examination from 5 to 7. I sure of pass marks. MG lecture in evening 9-10.

Friday October 15th Arose at 5:55. Got the cocoa and biscuits for the boys. Cleaned up and sat down in smoke room all morning. Spent the afternoon on Morse. Went down town and got violin, only 3/4 size in stock. Cost 7 pounds, case and bow. Took violins down to Cozy Corner Tea Room with bunch. Played and sang there until 10:30. Walked back to billet, retired at 10.

Sunday October 6th Arose at 6:15. Cleaned up billet. Cold and rainy out in morning, cleared up, still cold. Went down town with Dave and Livey (?). Took in movie, ate at Ferrari's. Taxied to Cozy Corner, met Frank, Slim, Abbot and bunch. Had violins, played and sang. Jim Napier sang couple of turns. Back in billets at 9:30, retired. Heard I got 29 out of 30 on my Military law exam questions.

Monday October 8th Arose at 6:15. On parade with No. 7 Squadron draft for Egypt. Started raining in afternoon, had to drill in it for a while. Dismissed at 4:00. Went down town after tea and returned violin, got my deposit of 7 pounds back. Bought trench coat. Taxied from one place to another. Sent back slacks to Burberry's. Raining and stormy out. Had to walk home in rain. Was soaked when I got back. Had dinner and taxied to Cozy Corner with Hobbs. Left Hobbs and waited for bunch. Spent most of evening playing and singing Rags. Back at billets at 9:00, retired at 10:15

Tuesday October 9th Arose at 6:15. On parade for first hour. (Someone unreadable) arrived, we had to dress and parade at 11:00 AM fully dresssed up. Took mine to tailor to alter collar. Got in again at 2:00. Off all afternoon. Went down town, took trench coat to tailor, had camel hair lining put in. Paraded on Pier for first time. Played at Hospital concert with bunch at 7:30. Had tea, back in billets at 9:30, retired at 10:15

Wednesday October 10th Arose at 6:00. Stuck around QM Stores turning in junk until 10:00. Paraded with No. 7 from 10am to 1 pm. Paid 10 pounds in afternoon. Paraded along promenade. Had tea at Pier pavilion. Roller skated in evening, back in billets at 10.

Thursday October 11th Arose at 6:15. Put on joy rags (civvies ?) left for London at 9:19, arrived 11. Spent morning at Burberry's. Booked a room at Strand Palace. Went to Palladium in afternoon, Coliseum in evening. Met Ole, he came along. Ate after theater then went up to room. Stalled around in Lounge for a while. Retired 1:00 AM.

Friday October 12th Arose at 7:30. Had breakfast in Hotel. Got bag at Burberry's, took train for St Leonard's at 9:11, arrived at noon. Sat around in afternoon and packed up stuff. Told that we were leaving at 5 AM in the morning. Retired at 9 PM.

Saturday October 13th Arose at 4:00 AM. Had breakfast at 4:30. Left for London at 6:01. Had an hour and a half to spend in London. Got bags at Burberry's, bought tropical shade puttees. Left for Southampton at 12, arrived about 2. Detrained on docks. Packed our own baggage on Lydia Steamship. Got blankets. Spent some time beside funnel on upper deck . Had supper of bully beef and bread, tea. Got good berth for Davey and I. Retired at 8:30

Sunday October 14th (en route to Egypt, day 1) Arose at 7:30. Had breakfast of bread, jam, cheese and tea. Steward cleaned, up, had inspection. Carried our luggage back onto the docks. Walked around Docks, Hospital ships from France in. Talked with Americans just over. Embarked on Queen Alexandra, left for France at 6:30. Chased by Submarines, had to turn back into port. Lay out in Harbour all night. Slept now and again beside funnels and down in Saloon. Had bread, gun ( ? )food and jam for supper. Lay up on top deck all evening. Cold and windy.

Monday October 15th (en route to Egypt, day 2) Woke up down in Saloon between kit bags, suitcases, on floor in all my clothes. Disembarked about 8 AM. Stuck around Docks all day. Bought a couple of good meals at Officer's restaurant. Embarked on Queen Alexandra again at 4:50, pulled out for France at 6:30. Made France alright, pulled in at Cherbourg, France about 1:00 AM. Didn't feel well down in Saloon, sat up on deck nearly all night.

Tuesday October 16th (en route to Egypt, day 3) Awake all night before. Disembarked at 7 AM. Had biscuits and cheese for breakfast. Marched through Cherbourg to rest camp. Arrived about 11:30. Rainy and muddy out. Allowed to go down into village in evening. Visited ...(---.-.---)- (some sort of code for a place name, to get past Censors ?) Had tea, caught 8:10 car, went back to Camp. Made up some sort of bed with 4 blankets and retired.

Wednesday October 17th (en route to Egypt, day 4) Arose at 7 AM. Turned in blankets. Lay around tent all afternoon. Left camp for train at 6 PM. Entrained at 7:30, Left for St. Germain at 8. travelled all night. Marching to train from camp we waded through water up to our ankles. Arranged seats in compartment to form a bed and retired at 9:30. Rained all night, dozed occasionally.

Thursday October 18th (en route to Egypt, day 5) Awoke at 7:30 sleeping crossways on seats. Stopped for breakfast and clean up at Chateau du Loir (?), Left there at 9 passed through central part of France towards Le Mans (?). Sent post cards to family from there. Stopped for an hour at Le Tours between 6 and 7 PM. Sang and fell asleep in same manner as last night.

Friday October 19th (en route to Egypt, day 6) Awakened at 7:30 AM in same knotty form as yesterday morning, lying across seats. Sat and idled away the morning. After lunch I sewed up lining of my coat and sewed a few buttons on. Arrived at St. Germain at 2 PM. Detrained and marched to rest camp. few hundred yards away. Some of us got into a tent. Wiseman, Grant, Walford, Service, Davey, Frank and I. Played and sang in Concert Hall, retired about 9:30 PM.

Saturday October 20th (en route to Egypt, day 7) Arose at 7 AM. Sat arund tent, turned in blankets. Left camp 1 PM. Entrained in Italian train, left St. Germain at 8 PM. Stopped at Lyons for half an hour. Travelled through southern France towards Alps. Ran into foothills about 9 o'clock. Had tea about 11 o'clock. Stopped in mountains someplace, quite cold out.

Sunday October 21st (en route to Egypt, day 8) Awoke at 5 AM in midst of mountains. Enjoyed new  scenery immensely. Snow capped mountains all around. Had breakfast at  Modena. Beautiful views all along line. Passed through 8 mile tunnel. Also numerous small tunnels. Arrived at  Turin in Italy at 2:30 PM. Stopped but did not detrain. Arrived at Alexandra at 7 PM. Allowed out into station. Arrived at _____ (name not allowed ?) at 10:30 PM. Stopped for tea and rations. Bought fruit and bread. Asleep at 11:00. Italian sailor opened carriage door, proposed to steal (something). Walpole swore at him, he beat it quick.

Monday October 22nd (en route to Egypt, day 9) Awoke at 8 AM. Stopped for day at rest camp in  Faenza. watched football game during part of afternoon. Rehearsal for impromptu (?) concert. Played at concert between 5:30 and 6:50 PM. Met Sullivan, stage name Jean Gerrard of Vaudeville Theatre in London. Promised to exchange music with him by mail. Fell in with bunch and marched back to train, left at 8 o'clock. Fell asleep listening to Walpole telling of his experiences when up the line.(in the trenches)

Tuesday October 23rd (en route to Egypt, day 10) Awoke at 7 AM. Reached  Castelmara Adriatico at 9:30. Stopped and cleaned up. Went in for a bath in the Adriatic Sea. Water was great. Dressed in behind screens on the beach. Left about 12, rode all afternoon at a mile an hour pace. Saw for first time Orange and Lemon trees, also Palms and Olive trees, Fig trees. Stoppped at 5 small stations, names unpronounceable. Retired at 9 PM.

Wednesday October 24th (en route to Egypt, day 11) Arose at 8:30 AM. Still travelling at dog trot except when going downhill. Travelled along sea shore all morning. Stopped at small water station, had a wash in puddle. At Monopoli for 2 hours, bought some post cards. Left about 2 PM, rode steadily until we reached  Taranto, pulled in on siding and backed out into camp. Reached camp about 11:30 PM. told to remain in train for night. Got some hot tea at 12:00 PM. Fell asleep.

Thursday October 25th (en route to Egypt, day 12) Awoke at 6 AM. Detrained, marched into camp carrying all my luggage. Had breakfast, volunteered for party to search for thief who stole papers from train. Went over Bay across from camp on launch. Spent 2 hours searching country. Had dinner at manager's place, ship building Yards. Was shown all through the plant. Saw submarine in course of erection. Through seeing yards, I waited for launch to come back and get us. Left for camp again at 4 PM. Cleaned up, had tea, made my bed. Pulled over fly netting, asleep at 9:30 PM.

Friday October 26th (en route to Egypt, day 13) At Cimino Camp, Taranto, Italy. Arose at 7:30 AM. Had a wash in the bay beside camp. Breakfasted at 8, Inspection 11 AM. Wrote Mother. Sat around on shore of the bay and watched aeroplanes in action. Spent evening in Mess.Back in hut at 9:30, made bed and retired.

Saturday October 28th (en route to Egypt, day 14) Arose at 7:30 AM. Went around camp in hunt for violin. Found one, borrowed it. Played for a couple of hours in morning. Practicing for evening concert in YMCA tent. Went in for a swim in afternoon, attended dinner given to Officers in our mess. Wine with our food, water shortage. Left at 7:15 for YMCA. PLayed two numbers on programme. Encored both times. Sang "In the Sweet Long Ago" for one, played for the other. Took immediately, crowd all humming it next day. Great fun in our hut. Did the dance of the Mayflowers for this bunch. Tired, retired about 11 PM.

Sunday Octber 29th (en route to Egypt, day 15) Arose at 7:30 AM. Played indoor baseball, basketball and what not with a tennis ball in our hut. Some fun. Packed up and got ready to embark. Carried our luggage down to pier at 11 AM. Shoved off from pier at 2:30 PM. Spent afternoon on board  'Aragon'. Put down in No. 1 hold with bunch of officers. About 100 Nurses on board, they occupied all the cabins. Sat out on deck until 10:30, boys singing and fooling around. Started imitation of orchestra with bunch. Great sport, laughed myself sick. Hung up my hammock, crawled in and fell asleep about 11:30 PM

Tuesday October 30th (en route to Egypt, day 16) Arose at 7:15 AM, still in harbour. Hung my hammock up on rear deck. Sat in it nearly all morning. Pinched life belt from Officers' Quarters. Had a short sleep in afternoon. Another concert arranged, Cadets giving Officers and Nurses a concert. Frank and I sang "There's a Little Bit of Bad in Every Good Little Girl". Encored, we sang "In the Sweet Long Ago", Some fun, some nerve, eh? Getting more confident each tme, concert great success, much better than last night's concert. Hung around in Saloon for a while. Retired about 11 PM.

Wednesday October 31st (en route to Egypt, day 17) Rose at 7:15, still in harbour. Strolled around on decks for a time. Invested at Canteen, had a feed down in hold. Pulled out of  harbour at 4:00 PM. with 2 Jap(anese) Cruisers. Sat around and chewed the fat in (?) during the evening. At 3:30 PM Murray took snaps of Davey and I and Wiseman. Retired down in hold at 9 PM. Ship rocking gently.

Thursday November 1st (en route to Egypt, day 18) Arose at 7:35 AM. Sat around on decks all morning. Asked to perform at concert in evening. Helped arrange concert, had it all fixed up, then it was cancelled. Sat around up on deck during evening. Retired down in hold at 9 PM. Hammock broke down so I went up on deck and slept there. Started raining about 12 PM. I moved to shelter and spent rest of night sound asleep.

Friday November 2nd (en route to Egypt, day 19) Arose at 7 AM. Had forgotten Puttees down in hold so I had to borrow Grant's long pants to go down and dress. Was put in charge of fatigue party for the forenoon. Cleaned up No. 1 Hold. Did not appear on morning inspection. Spent some time writing. Sat up on deck all afternoon. Ben Murray took a couple more snaps of bunch. Asked to play at concert in evening. Violin broken, Frank played solo. I slept on deck again, too hot below.

Saturday November 3rd (en route to Egypt, day 20) Arose at 7:15 AM. Sat up on deck and watched boxing tournament between cadets. Willoughby and Harrison the best. Tug-of-war after between Officers and Cadets, Cadets won. Sighted land about noon, arrived in port at Alexandria at 2:00 PM. Carried off my luggage. Very hot weather, strong sun. Told that it was an exceptionally cold day. I must have lost 2 pounds during afternoon. Disembarked at 7 PM. Marched through City to Station, left for Aboukir at 9:15 PM. Met Johnnie Thompson. Arrived in camp at Aboukir 10:00 PM. Got blankets, retired about 11 PM in tents under palm trees and bright moon.

Sunday November 4th (finally arrived) Arose at 6 AM. On parade, gave particulars. Watched machines going up. Looked over planes in sheds. Met Homer Robinson at breakfast, also Paul Derval. Met Scott of Brandon (Manitoba), friend of Ron Davidson's. Spent afternoon with Homer Robinson in Officer's Quarters. Had tea with him. Met Jenkins from Hamilton, Ont. Had dinner at 8 PM, lay around tent and retired at 10:30 PM.

Monday November 5th Had a parade during morning and went for a swim in sea right after. Great progress in swimming. Informed about change to our routine. Bunch didn't take to idea very kindly. Had my photo taken for pass form. Took some snaps during day. Had film developed by photo dept. Wrote Emma and Ole, asked Ole to wire money for me. Had dinner at 8 o'clock, retired about 10.

Tuesday November 6th Arose at 6 AM. Had an hour's drill in morning. Got picture for pass form. Inoculated in afternoon for Dysentery and Cholera. Sang a couple of tunes at YMCA concert in evening. Had some refreshments then retired about 11 PM.

Wednesaday November 7th Off parade all day on account of inoculation. Took a roll of pictures in camp and gave it to Corporal of photo section to develop. Got my other pictures from him. Some turned out good. Lounged around tent all morning and afternoon. Spent evening at restaurant in Aboukir, had music and piano there. Had refreshments at YMCA, retirted about 9:30 PM.

Thursday November 8th Arose at 6 Am. Off parade in morning. Draft of 30 picked to go to Ismailia to do Elementary Flying. Left at 1:30 PM. Arrived at 9:30 PM. Marched out to camp, put in tents, three in a tent. Had Batman between us. Dined in Mess with Officers. Retired about 11 PM.

Friday November 9th Arose at 7 AM. Paraded before O.C, gave particulars, attached to Flights. Dave, Frank and I in 'B' Flight. Had lunch in tent, served ourselves. Told that we were going back to Aboukir in the morning. Wrote up Diary, had a sleep in afternoon. Woke up at 4 PM, went over to mess, had some tea. Met Joe Benson. Sat out on verandah all evening talking to Gibson of Portage la Prairie (Manitoba). Retired about 9:30.

Saturday November 10th Arose at 7 AM. Packed up and had my stuff ready to leave. Wrote letter to Dad telling him of the way I was existing and the price. Left Ismailia at 2:07, took picture of Station. Snapped views along route. Arrived at Sidi Gabeah at 8 PM. Spent hour there and caught 9 o'clock train for Aboukir. Service on train. Carried my own baggage to my tent. Looked at Murray's pictures taken on trip. Retired at 11 PM.

Sunday November 11th Arose at 6 AM. Went for a bathe in morning, took some snaps. Went downtown to Alexandria in afternoon. Took 2 rolls to have (them) developed and printed. I ordered Christmas cards. Ate at Italian joint. Sat down on Square, waited an hour for train. Ate an iced fruit sundae. Left for camp at 9 PM. Went straight to bed when I arrived, about 10:30 PM.

Monday November 12th Arose at 6. Went for a swim in morning. Painted pictures all afternoon, Davey and I. Remainder of tent downtown. Spent evening with camp orchestra in Gunnery School. Sent off package of postcards to Emma (Konnie's sister). Sent off Xmas greetings to the boys. Glanced over snaps brought back by the bunch and retired about 11 PM.

Wednesday November 14th Arose at 6. Hung around camp during morning. Was inoculated at 11 AM. Lay around in tent all afternoon. Played at Whist Drive in Sergeants' Mess. Retired about 11 PM.

Saturday November 17th Arose at 4 AM. Packed up and proceeded to Heliopolis. Arrived at Cairo and took tramway cars to Heliopolis. Stationed and quartered in Palace Hotel Room 515. Spent afternoon fixing up room. Spent evening downtown looking over Cairo. Returned to Heliopolis about 9, had a bath and retired. Slept like a log.

Sunday November 18th Arose at 7:15 AM. Had breakfast in dining hall. Magnificent place. Walls all cream coloured marble. Painted pictures for a time in morning. Went to church. Finished pictures. Prepared my cards for Xmas. Addressed them in afternoon. Walked around Heliopolis, saw Sultan's palace. Had high tea, wrote mother and Freda in evening, sent them snaps. Retired about 9:30

Monday November 19th Arose 5:30. Attended lectures during morning and afternoon. Wrote letters in evening. Retired about 9:30

Tuesday November 20th Arose at 5:50. Attended lectures and practical classes in morning and afternoon. Spent evening writing Vickers MG (Machine Gun) notes and buzzing (Morse code). Retired about 9:30

Wednesday November 21st Arose 6:00 AM. Attended lectures during morning. Went out to see Pyramids again in afternoon with bunch of the boys. Dave & I only. Many snaps taken. Rode on Camel for first time. Went through Tombs. Came back in car, hour's ride. Spent evening writing notes on Vickers and Theory of Flight.

Thursday November 22nd Arose at 5:50 AM. Attended lectures. Late on Parade with Frank and Dave. Wrote letter to Freda in evening and sent her a couple of snaps. Retired about 9:30 PM.

Friday November 23rd Arose at 5:50 AM. On parade. Up before Chief Instructor, got three day pass stopped. Attended all lectures during day. Stripped Vickers gun for first time. Did it much faster than I thought I could. Sat around during evening and read. Retired about 9:30

Saturday November 24th Arose at 5:50 AM. On parade, up in time for Tea. Had P.T. Bunch inoculated and off parade. Attended all lectures during day. Went for a walk with Davey after tea. Bought (photo)printing paper, listened to Orchestra at Hotel across the street for some time. Came back to Hotel, did a little Buzzing and retired about 9:30. I read over book about Aeroplanes in the evening. ("The Design of Aeroplanes", published 1917, still in the family)

Sunday November 25th Arose at 7 AM. Had breakfast and went out on Church Parade. Printed pictures all day, paper rotten, pictures turned out bad. Wrote Dad in the evening, sent him some of the snaps. Retired about 9:30.

Thursday November 29th Arose at 6 AM. ON parade all day, attended all lectures. Ran over a few songs in spare time. Looked at Vickers MG notes, retired about 9:30.

Saturday December 1st Arose at 6. On parade in morining and afternoon. Went downtown in evening for 3rd time since coming to SMA. Went to Kursaal Theatre. Rotten show, English & French mixture of Vaudeville. Talked with Lt. Bradley on way home, retired about 12:30 PM.

Sunday December 2nd Arose at 8 AM. Just got down in time for breakfast. Beat it off Church Parade. Locked room door kept out Sgt. Major. Went downtown in afternoon with Davey. Ended up at Citadel. Looked it over and walked back to our line. Took car home. Too late for tea so we bought meal at Restaurant across the road from Hotel. Retired at 9:30

Thursday December 6th Arose at 6 AM. Went out on Ranges, shot group of 10 individual shots with Vickers MG. Attended lectures all day. Stomach trouble started in afternoon. Retired early.

Friday December 7th Remained in bed all day, had bad stomach ache. Doc gave me Castor Oil. Awake nearly all night.

Saturday December 8th Remained in bed all day. Got Hassan (a batman ?) to bring me up some breakfast, ate very little. Got up in afternoon and sat around for a while. Went back to bed in evening.

Tuesday December 11th Arose at 6:30. Excused P.T. Attended lectures all day, skipped a couple of periods. Played a couple of games of Snooker. Frank and I met Dave and Willoughby. Got back about 9, had some tea, retired at 10 PM. It came out in Orders today that Frank & I will write exams December 12th. We made arrangements to either get off or have Dave & Willoughby put on. We got off.

Saturday December 15th Arose at 6. Had a walk with bunch. On parade in morning for first two periods. Got a pass and went downtown with Willoughby. Gave my address to Cox's (Cox's Bank). Ate at Petrograd Restaurant, got back at 2:30. Parade in afternoon, lectures called off. Had practical exam in Aerial OBservation. Went downtown with boys in evening, took in the Casino de Paris. Rotten show. Got back to Hotel at 11:40 PM.

Sunday December 16th Arose at 7 AM. Went out to Ranges at 8. Frank & I did such good shooting that OFficer I/C said he was going to recommend us for fighting machines. Spent afternoon looking over notes. John Thompson came over to see us, stayed in all night and killed time fooling around. Retired about 9 PM.

Friday December 21st Arose at 7. Dave & Frank put on list to go to Ismailia, I left off. Too far down the alphabet. Boys all left at 10:30 for Ismailia, I left behind. Stalled around all day killing time rest of day. Got fellows to move in with me, retired about 9 PM

Saturday December 22nd Arose at 6. Spent day as per usual. Received a letter from Frank (he had left the day before!). Retired about 9:30

Sunday December 23rd Arose at 7. Attended Church Parade. Received a (another) letter from Frank, answered it immediately. Wrote folks a long letter. Retired about 10 PM

Monday December 24th> Arose at 6. Spent day as per usual on week days. Another letter from Frank, answered it. Played for Officers' Stag "shindig". Retired about 11:30 PM

Tuesday December 25th Arose at 7:15. Church Parade at 10:00.Spent rest of morning hanging around, saw Adjutant. Had dinner at 1:30 pm through 3 pm. Too stuffed to move so I lay down on my bed and read. Received a letter form Davey. Wrote Freda in evening, retired at 10 pm.

Wednesday December 26th Arose at 7:15 am. Chased around with passes in morning. Went out to YMCA Fete in afternoon and evening. Saw boxing and took in concert. Got back to Hotel at 9:30, had a glimpse at Officers' Dance. Played violin with orchestra for a while. Retired at 11 pm. Dreamed I was at a dance at the Royal Alexandra (the Canadian Pacific Hotel in Winnipeg) in my pyjamas. Awakened by orchestra playing what sounded like Ham.....(unreadable) Waltz.

Sunday December 30th Arose at 7:30 am. On church parade at 10. Blancoed my white boots, turned them to khaki color. Received a letter from National Bank of Egypt about some money for me. Stayed in all night and wrote Freda. Retired at 10 pm.
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