Food is very scarce

William Hallam (working the night shift in Swindon) heard of food shortages in the Midlands.

18th October 1917

A beautiful starlit night. Home at 6 this morning and lit the fire, washed and had my breakfast, and was in bed at ½ past 7 where I stayed till 4, but did not get a lot of sleep. My bro. George wrote from Coventry. He says food is very scarce there.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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All the fir trees are being cut down

The Canadian Forestry Corps had been specially created to provide wood for the needs of the Front. The woods of Berkshire provided much of the raw materials.

1st October 1917

A beautiful day again but quite an Autumn feeling in the air morning & night. Wife went up to Padworth to see her father’s grave. She says all the fir trees round them are being cut down by Canadian lumber men.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Escape in a barrel

Florence Vansittart Neale’s nephew Lieutenant Paul Eddis was a submarine officer who had been interned in neutral Denmark for some time. He made a daring escape hidden in a barrel.

Florence Vansittart Neale
30 September 1917

Exciting letter of Paul’s escape. He home Friday. Got in barrel….

Too full moon! Fear raids. General Maude’s victory in Mesopotamia very good.

30th week of air raids. Met by barrage of fire. 3 balloons brought down.

Heard of Paul’s arrival & escape in barrel to waiting yacht 15 hours! Evading destroyers [illegible] to Helsingborn.

William Hallam
30th September 1917

Up at 10 past 5 and working from 6 till 1. Beautiful weather still and the nights as light as can be with a full harvest moon – just right for those air raiders. After dinner – roast lamb fowl too dear; 1/9 a lb, I went to bed … A gloriously bright moonlight night.

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

“Everything getting most scandalously dear”

William Hallam was shocked by the latest price rises, but was still patriotically investing in war savings certificates.

15th September 1917

Fine to-day again. Worked till 5. To-night after tea and I had washed, shaved and changed I went down to the Frome Hotel and got 2 pints of ale 1/= then along Bath Rd, bought a W.S.C. 15/6, then walked along looking in the shop windows. B[ough]t an oz of Red Bell tobaccos 6d. and a box of matches 1½d. Everything getting most scandalously dear. Coming back I went into Bath Rd reading room till ½ past 8. Very dark coming home. To bed at 10.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

“This weather is getting serious for the crops and just when we want an extra good one”

William Hallam was worried that bad weather would worsen food shortages.

29th August 1917

All night it rained too. This weather is getting serious for the crops and just when we want an extra good one.

It got brighter this evening tho’. An aeroplane went over just after 9 o’clock to-night. The latest I have seen one yet.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Aeroplanes overhead

Over in Swindon, aeroplane training was going on.

6th August 1917

Bank Holiday. Up at a quarter to 8. No work to-day. A dull morning but the afternoon and evening was much finer and bright – weather improving. Many aeroplanes over.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

“One can’t do too much to make these young colonials comfortable”

Florence Vansittart Neale despaired of the situation on the Russian Front, while William Hallam and his wife offered some home comforts to Australian soldiers.

Florence Vansittart Neale
29 July 1917

Russia hopelessly rotten. Retreating all along.

William Hallam
29th July 1917

Up at 10 past 5 and to work. How I am getting fed up with this week and work. Home at ¼ past 1 to dinner. Our Tasmanian came in to dinner and tea with his two chums Gordon Inglis and Percy Crane from Hobart. They are certainly 3 of the nicest fellows I’ve ever met and I feel one can’t do too much to make these young colonials comfortable and give them a home comfort when we can. Very wet, raining hard.

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

Aeroplanes flying about

Over the county border at Swindon, William Hallam was entertained by the sight of trainee pilots practicing their newfangled art.

23rd July 1917
Another hot day. 13 aeroplanes flying about here at dinnertime.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Several people try to see a plane

William Hallam heard the newfangled sound of an aeroplane overhead.

21st July 1917

Worked till 5 again. Got home at ¼ past 5. Dot was out so got my own tea. Then I cut up more wood and stacked away more coal. Washed, shaved and changed, and as usual along Bath Rd. Bought 4 War Savings Cert. 15/6 each. Then down Victoria Rd and bought a pair of working boots 10/9. Brought them home and then went to the Reading Room till nearly 9. Coming along Bath Road home I could hear an aeroplane but could not see it, it was too high up. Several more people were looking for it. A close and oppressive evening.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

War bread is such stale stuff

William Hallam did not care for the wholemeal bread produced in war time.

13th July 1917

Wages 2£. 18S. 7d. after 10/6 was deducted. We get 10d. extra now for Sunday work. Very hot and close again. If it wasn’t for the war bread I should some times take my dinner but it is such stale stuff. Coming up here from work at dinner time tires me out. The only thing I feel older in. Coming come from work to-night I called in at the barbers and had my hair cut. I was in there awaiting my turn past an hour.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

A pathetic last letter

Florence Vansittart Neale was saddened to receive a posthumous letter from a young pilot who had been shot down a few months earlier.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 July 1917

Hear through Manchester we have brought down 11 machines. Got Reg Lownds’ last letter to me just before he was killed – very pathetic – found in blotter.

William Hallam
8th July 1917

Up at 20 past 5 and to work from 6-1. It rained hard all day long. When I got home at dinner time, as I had got wet through, I washed and changed as soon as I got in. After dinner I had a cigar and a sleep. We had a Tasmanian soldier in again to dinner and tea – Donald Blackwell – such a nice fellow.

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

Great excitement at news of air raid

Our diarists were concerned by news of a major air raid in London.

William Hallam
7th July 1917

We had a Tasmanian soldier in to tea to-night. After tea I had a bath and shaved, dressed and along to Bath Rd reading room till 9. Bought 3 15/6 W. Sav. Certif. This makes 80 I have. Great excitement again – news of a big air raid on London but not much official news so probably exaggerated.

Florence Vansittart Neale
7 July 1917

Another bad air raid in London. So far 27 killed, 141 hurt. Have not heard extent of damage. (Over 40 killed.)

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

Quite a nice Australian

The Hallams invited an Australian soldier home. 22 year old Gordon Ingles had joined the Anzac Cyclist Battalion a year earlier.

24th June 1917
We had a young Tasmanian soldier in to dinner and tea – Gordon Ingles – from Hobart – quite a nice fellow.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

A heavy death toll

Our diarists heard the distressing news of massive air raids in other parts of the country.

Florence Vansittart Neale
13 June 1917

To tea with Krohutres. Mrs Iscombe there – told us about London air raid…

Big air raid in East End, London. Heavy death toll – school & near Liverpool.

William Hallam
13th June 1917

Great excitement amongst the people to-night hearing of a great air raid on London.

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

Heavy raid on the south coast

A massive air raid hit the south of England, the news making waves for our own diarists.

Florence Vansittart Neale
26 May 1917

H[enry] took Ag on river and brought back word heavy raid on S C woods. Lot of casualties.

William Hallam
26th May 1917

A great Air Raid on S.E. coast in to-night’s papers.

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