German submarine base useless

The Vansittart Neales took their Australian guest out to tea.

12 May 1918

Henry & I & Captain Goudie to tea at Higginsons…

Ostend harbour filled up by the Vindictive. Submarine base useless.

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

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Great reduction in coal ration

Sir Henry Rawlinson (1864-1925) was to be held responsible after the war for some of the tactical decisions which had led to appalling losses at the Battle of the Somme. During the war, however, his star was still bright.

3 April 1918

H to Coal Ration Committee. Great reduction!

Germans not yet begun further big attack. General Gough was sent back. Sir H Rawlinson takes his place.

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

100 miles an hour

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale was encouraging his tenants to keep pigs, part of the movement to encourage homegrown food.

Florence Vansittart Neale
17 March 1918

H arranging for “Pig meeting” in village.

Russians done for. Hopeless. Will Japan try & bolster them up?

William Hallam
17th March 1918

A very sharp frost. An air ship went over this morning but I did not see it. Some say it was travelling 100 miles an hour.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

From beer to bombs

A local brewery had been taken over for munitions manufacturing.

8 February 1918

Henry & I to Marlow in morning to see the munition work. Saw the 18 lb shells being made at Wethered’s Brewery.

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

Belgians to luncheon

Henry Vansittart Neale invited some Belgian refugees to lunch.

27 February 1918

H to District Council, brought back Belgians to luncheon – 3.

H back for meeting at 3 o’clock & took them back, Noble & I to Marlow about his sugar ration paper.

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

The Goeben has nine lives!

SMS Goeben was a German-built ship which was the Ottoman (Turkish) Navy’s flagship. It had been damaged by both mines and bombs in January 1918, but went on in service until 1950, and was not scrapped until the 1970s.

30 January 1918

Hear Goeben refloated back in Dardanelles!! It has 9 lives!

Henry long day at Maidenhead. District C 2 meetings. Food & Agricultural & National Party at 6.

Another raid but stopped on outskirts. Papers did not come till 12.

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

No plum pudding

It was a festive Christmas at Bisham Abbey, although the family missed daughter Phyllis and son in law Leo “Boy” Paget, respectively nursing and fighting.

25 December 1917

Had soup, turkey and bread sauce!! No plum pudding, but omnibus with dates. Drank health absent ones, Phyllis & Boy, in champagne.

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

A charming Yankee

A wounded American visited Bisham Abbey and was a hit with Sir Henry.

17 December 1917

Anxious wait for taxi that arrived too late. We missed train. Lost muff & soldiers’ parcel!…

Wounded came in afternoon. Very nice men. Charming Yankee. He & Henry discussed old books.

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

Farms willing to have women workers

Florence Vansittart Neale and Miss Dane continued to work on the initiative to get more women in farmwork.

5 December 1917

Miss Dane & I dropped Henry at Maidenhead, then on to Holyport. Miss Coatt saw nice old farmer – no good. Then visited our farms about women on the land – all willing to have them. Home for lunch. Sent Miss D. to Hurley farmers after lunch.

America declares war on Austria.

Russian terms for Armistice!!

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

A useless horse

28 November 1917

Man came to fetch chestnuts. Horse from Government useless….

Wire from Boy [their son in law Leo Paget] to say Paris leave on from 10th to 16th.

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

Filling sacks with chestnuts for munitions

Short of gardening staff thanks to the war, the Vansittart Neales collected chestnuts like Berkshire’s children.

26 November 1917
Henry & I cut down ivy on wall by dining room & under staircase. All filled sacks with chestnuts for munitions. 29 sacks!

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)

Russia hopeless

Russia and rationing were the topics exercising Florence Vansittart Neale.

16 November 1917

More rationing going on. Butter, cereals, only 10 oz butter or fats each. H & I have our pats each per week.

Russia hopeless.

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

Bright moon, bad air raids

The Vansittart Neale girls were both home for the first time since they started nursing the troops.

28 September 1917
Waited [at Maidenhead station] for both girls who had been to London for day’s shopping. All motored home. First time we all 4 together. Bad air raid nearly every night this week – bright moon.

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

Scarborough under attack

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale served on the local (Maidenhead) Tribunal hearing conscientious objectors’ and essential workers’ cases against conscription. Meanwhile, the Yorkshire town of Scarborough was being attacked from the sea.

5 September 1917

Men out on river. About 40 came. Henry at Tribunal & Food Production meetings…

Bombardment of Scarborough.

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