Anterhinums instead of vegetables

The head gardener at Bisham Abbey made the mistake of thinking the flower garden should be defended against vegetables. Meanwhile General John Pershing (1860-1948) made a visit.

9 June 1917

Martin had planted anterhinums instead of vegetables! Has to take them up….

American General & staff arrived – General Pershing.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Wounded play the usual games

More officers were welcomed to Bisham Abbey.

4 June 1917
Young Lillyman (another Australian) came in afternoon. The wounded spent afternoon here & played usual games & went on river.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Big push begun again!

Florence Vansittart Neale played hostess again at Bisham Abbey.

3 June 1917

Military attaché and wife to tea – saw house and garden….

I showed Captain Kennedy [the Australian officer staying at Bisham] the house…

Big push begun again!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

74 killed in Folkestone

The peace of Bisham Abbey seemed like a million miles from the south coast, hit by air raids.

2 June 1917

Captain Kennedy arrived – another Australian. Sat out. Men boated.

Bad raid on Folkestone – 74 people killed.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

An Australian gunner visits Bisham

An Australian officer visited Bisham Abbey.

1 June 1917
Found young Lt Rickards had arrived for weekend – Australian gunner.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A lovely day at Bisham

More recuperating wounded soldiers had a lovely day out at Bisham Abbey.

14 May 1917
Soldiers here (16) – played croquet, bowls & boated. Mr Noble brought officers. Very lovely day.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Feigning dead for nine hours

It was anguishing news at Bisham Abbey as a number of friends and acquaintances of the Vansittart Neales were killed or injured, while daughter Phyllis was nursing others.

12 May 1917

Tom Coster killed. Bob Silver wounded. John Sawdalls missing! G. Harding feigning dead for 9 hours….

Had swab working party out here….

Heard Pussycat in officers’ hospital.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Calling on the Belgians

Florence Vansittart Neale invited local refugees to lunch at Bisham Abbey.

9 May 1917
H & I to Maidenhead – he to massage. Left screens at Red X Hospital. Called on Belgians – asked them to come tomorrow to lunch, 4!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A fighting board at the Admiralty

Phyllis Vansittart Neale started nursing in Reading – less exotic than France, but still working with seriously wounded soldiers. Her father Henry, at the Admiralty, found changes afoot.

5 May 1917

H., I & Phyllis last dog walk – we on to Vicarage with flowers to say goodbye to Willy. We all motored to Reading & Pussycat [Phyllis?] started on her new venture.

3 [SJ?] destroyers mined in Channel. We going on in Western Front, very hard fighting.

2nd dish asparagus – economising in salmon!

Changes at the Admiralty – a fighting board – Lloyd George has been at it.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A happy set of wounded soldiers

More wounded soldiers visited Bisham Abbey from the hospital at Cliveden.

30 April 1917
Fine day. Dug Ellie’s allotment with Hilda. Wounded came from Cliveden. Went round garden & farm after tea, & sat out by river. Some went in boats. Nice set – all very happy.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Shells laming horses

Wounded soldiers visiting Bisham Abbey gave Florence Vansittart Neale information about the war.

16 April 1917

Went to Engineers’ camp to see dug outs & trenches…

Wounded came for afternoon. Nice set – usual games & singing. All enjoyed themselves. Edie & Mary came.

One of the wounded from church told me we could have taken Bapaume before Xmas but the French Government stopped us to save the town – now the Germans have destroyed it.

Hear [illegible] casualty to horses 10,000 in 3 days! Germans leave shells with sharp points that get into the hoofs & lame them.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Beer and bottled water to be in short supply

Sydney Spencer underwent training in gas exposure, while Florence Vansittart Neale was shocked by the amount of items to be restricted.

Sydney Spencer of Cookham
Feb 22

I go through chlorine gas for first time (in a P.H. helmet).

Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey
22 February 1917

Large contingent of nurses & MOs from Cliveden. Saw everything & had tea in hall. Came at 3, left 5.30….

Good speech by E. Carson on submarine menace – very serious, but hope it will get [illegible].

Importations of timber, apples, tomatoes, raw fruits, tea, restricted, meat, paper, wines, silks, only 10,000,000 barrels of beer – spirits also restricted, aerated water and table water.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Wounded soldiers enjoy themselves

It was a busy afternoon at Bisham Abbey.

19 February 1917
Went with Henry to Maidenhead while he had massage…
Meanwhile 15 wounded arrived before 3, till past 7. Quite enjoyed themselves. E Farrer & Polly & May came too. Very exhausting.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

We must expect more food restrictions

Florence Vansittart Neale heard some news about upcoming food shortages.

14 February 1917
Henry Nichols & nurse came to lunch – Sir E. Carson says we are getting submarines but must expect to be much more restricted as to food.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Spain may come in”

Florence Vansittart Neale had to deal with the practical implications of rationed food essentials, while hoping that neutral Spain might join the Allies thanks to the Germans’ aggressive targetting of all shipping.

7 February 1917

Mrs S. [the cook?] & I daily talks on food economy. 2 ½ lb meat – 4 lbs bread – ¾ lb sugar for each person.

Manpower 18-60. How many ought to go!!…

Germans refuse to stop torpedoing every ship – neutral or enemy. Spain may come in.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)