Witley, July 4, 1917

Wednesday         Rain all day t’was much needed had a sleep A.M. during the afternoon removed all traces of the rain[.] it cleared off toward evening – I read to pass the evening

It doesn’t sound like a very strenuous day, though removing “all traces of the rain” must mean brushing off mud and polishing steel.  The 13th Brigade is in camp, while the 14th (Archie Wills’s) is on bivouac at Petworth Park. That can’t have been fun in all-day rain, but lucky Archie is in London, taking a six-week course at Woolwich Arsenal. He spent part of the morning in the cellar, because of an air raid warning. “The Huns didn’t get this far,” his diary says, “having been cut off at Harwich.” (1)

1917 07 05 photo air defenceTomorrow’s Globe will report that some twelve or fourteen German aeroplanes approached Harwich, on the Essex coast northeast of London. They were met with anti-aircraft fire, dropped some bombs — causing no major damage in the port of Harwich itself, but killing eleven people and injuring another three dozen nearby —  and then turned away. Off the coast of Belgium they were attacked by flyers of the Royal Naval Air Service, who reported two German planes going down in flames, and a third visibly damaged. All British airmen and aircraft returned safely to their base. (2)

Lytton My Novel signature PFTBack at Witley, Percy doesn’t tell us what he is reading today. We have some idea of his taste, from the books he has mentioned before: Wickedness in High Places, When a Man’s a Man, and The Broad Highway. A small collection of books he owned in Canada includes two novels by Mrs. Henry Wood (Lord Oakburn’s Daughters and The Channings), and three volumes in which he wrote his name and the date January 1, 1916: Lord Lytton’s My Novel, and a marked change from his fictional diet, a collection of Emerson’s Essays and the Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The photograph reproduced in the Globe points out the observation balloon and two anti-aircraft guns belonging to the RNAS coastal patrol.

(1) Wills, Archie. Diary. 4: 96. July 4, 1917. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(2) “Three German Raiders Winged,” The Globe (1844-1936). July 5, 1917. 1. Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”




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