“2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat”

Florence Vansittart Neale was puzzled as how to manage Bisham Abbey with less food available, while the news – and rumours – continued to fascinate her.

1 January 1918
Worried morning over rations. Very difficult but must do it. Edith arranging next Sunday’s “chain of prayer”.

January 1918 [inserted at front, no date]

Hear Haig in London, very sick about things. He had refused to send Divisions to Italy, but had to. Wanted to resign. He said a great deal too much fuss made about Sir J Byng’s push & also a great deal about the subsequent retreat!

Hear we send up stuff against [balloons?] which make the men so deadly seasick they have to come down. On return Irish leave this Xmas, 1000s stuck at Holyhead 5 days. Too many submarines there. At last escorted over by American destroyer & gun boats.

Hear 2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat. Hear General [illegible] sent back after it., then returned by Army Council & again sent back after St Quentin retreat! Hunter-Weston “honouring heroic deed” (drunken Tommie). Foch becoming Generalissimo (March 1918).

Meat & butter rations begin.

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

Tanks break the Hindenburg Line

Personal tragedy was alleviated by the success of the British forces.

21 November 1917

Henry at committees all day Maidenhead, so motor brought back Dottie & took her to the station. She spent the day with me. We talked & worked.

I have undertaken 2 pr socks & 2 mufflers a week for France.

Heard Willie Parker missing, fear killed. It’s awful!

Brilliant success of our Western Front. “Byng”, tanks & cavalry – broken Hindenburg line. Great surprise to enemy – nearly to Cambrai.

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

“A horrible long way away” from her new husband

Ivy, Marchioness of Titchfield (1887-1982) was a new bride when she wrote this letter to Ralph Glyn. She was the niece of the Duke of Richmond, and married William, Marquess of Titchfield (1893-1977), heir to the Duke of Portland and a serving officer in the Royal Horse Guards, on 12 August 1915.

Sept 20th [1915]
Berriedale, RSO

Dear Captain Glyn

Thank you so much for your kind letter of congratulation from the Dardanelles. Titchfield is there with Byng. He arrived on the 4th September. It will be awfully interesting for him seeing both campaigns, having been in France since August last year, but it is a horrible long way away & news is scanty.

I am told you are back so send this to the WO & shall hope to see you if I am in London.

Thanking you again for your good wishes.

Yrs Ivy Titchfield

Letter from Lady Titchfield to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/20)