“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)

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A ship in the Irish Sea

Florence Vansittart Neale’s nephew Paul Eddis was back in the swing of things after his daring escape from Denmark.

13 December 1917

Paul has got ship in Irish Sea.

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

Collision in the Irish Sea

The tragedy referred to here was the sinking of the SS Connemara (a passenger-carrying steamer) and Retriever (a coal vessel), which collided at the entrance to Carlingford Lough in Northern Ireland on 3 November 1916. There was only 1 survivor. Some of the victims were young Irish women travelling to England to work in munitions factories.

4 November 1916

Collision in Irish Channel owing to storm. 90 killed!

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