Private John Cushnie Collection

Notes from the John Cushnie Great War Diary

Private John Cushnie wrote approximatly 98 letters home from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from January 1918. These letters and diary entries, gratiously provided by Anne Hales and describe John's life in the CEF, from the telegram that he sent saying that he would be home for his first weekend of leave after enlisting, to the telegram that announced that he was back from Europe. This page provides explainations and descriptions of some of the terms and placenames mentioned in the diary.



A trick taking card game devised in the US shortly before 1900. It is an extension of Euchre and incorporats the basic principles of Bridge.

Agny, France

A small village south of Arras.

Anzin Saint Aubin, France

A small village north west of Arras.

Arras, France

Arras is a major city, capital of the Pas-deCalais region in northern France. It was the scene of several battles during the war and had to be rebuilt after hostilities ended

Aubigny-en-Artois, France

Aubigny-en-Artois is a small town about 15 km north-west of Arras

Battle of Amiens

August 8, 1918 was the start of the "100 Days", where the allied troops broke through the German lines and advanced 7 miles. This offensive started the push that ultimatly led to the end of the war. Erich Ludendorff, commander of the German forces, described the first day of the battle as "the black day of the German Army".

Beaver Hut

This was a YMCA run building in the Strand, London, where soldiers could relax, write letters, and enjoy treats from home.

Bethonsart, France

Bethonsart is a small village 15 km north-west of Arras

Billet Warden

Part of a small group of soldiers that guard other soldiers to make sure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.


A tent made from waterproof sheets.

Boves, France

Boves is a village on the outskirts of Amiens

Boulogne, France

Boulogne-sur-Mer was the principle landing port for troops arriving from England.

Bramshott Camp, England

Bramshott camp was a temporary army camp set up on Bramshott Common, Hampshire, England

Bramshott Chase, England

A National Trust wooded area near Bramshott.

Bramshott Common, England

Bramshott Common is an expanse of heathland near Liphook, Hampshire, England.

Brigade Dump

Location where ammunition was stored, away from the front lines, but close enough that it could be easily moved.

Bueley-Grenay, France

Now the town of Bully-les-Mines outside of Lens, France.

Calais, France

Calais is a major port town in northern France. Most troops from England landed here.

Calonne-Ricouart, France

An old coal mining town about 50 km southwest of Lille.

Casualty Clearing Depot (CCD)

In England, this was an area where men discharged from hospital would be sent, then assigned to to a retraining battalion.

Casualty Clearing Center (CCS)

The first stop for a soldier after being wounded was the Causalty Clearing Station. Wounded men woulkd be evaluated to determine if they needed to be evacuated to a hospital, or could be patched up and retruned to their unit.

Caucourt, France

Caucourt is a small village about 15 km northwest of Arras.

Chelers, France

Chelers is a small village about 18 km North-West of Arras.

Chu Chin Chow

Chu Chin Chow is a musical comedy based on the story of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. More information here .

Church Parade

Mandatory Church services

Dainville, France

A small town about 3 km west of Arras.

Divion, France

Referred to as Vivian in John's Diary. A small village near Calonne-Ricouart

Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC)

The men, horses and wagons that supplied ammunition to the front.

Eagle Hut, London

The Eagle Hut, a YMCA operated centre for US Servicemen, opened in London in September 1917. It offered overnight accommodation and food for American servicemen passing through London, and helped with arrangements for London sightseeing tours and entertainment.

Etaples, France

Etaples was the principle depot and training camp for British troops in France. It was noted for the harsh training methods that led to the Étaples Mutiny in 1917.

Etrun, France

A small village about 6.5 km northwest of Arras.

Field Cipher

A code used in the field by signallers. It was a highly secure way of transmitting information, typically based on a "key" that each party had to encrypt and decrypt the communications.

Field Punishment

Military punishment for soldiers on active duty. Field Punishment No. 1 involved being restrained to a fixed device for 2 hours per day. Soldiers subjected to Field Punishment would be shubject to loss of pay and hard labour. See more here.

Flag Drill

Communicationg with flags training.

Folkestone, England

Folkestone is port town in Kent, England. Most of the troops going to and from France went via Folkestone.

Fuller Phone

The Fuller Phone was a Direct Current (DC) telegraph (Morse Code) and voice communication device. Using DC, it could be operated by battery, making it suitable for field comunications. It was devised by Captain (later Maj.Gen) A.C. Fuller of the British Signal Service in 1915.

Gas Respirators / Gas Masks

Cumbersome to wear, uncomfortable and providing limited vision, gas masks provided limited defence against gas attacks.

Garrison Theatre, Bramshott

A theater built for the troops in Bramshott Camp

Gentelles, France

Gentelles is a town on the outskirts of Amiens


Terms used to describe the German soldiers.


General Oficer Commanding

Godalming, England

Godalming is a market town in Surry, England, close to Whitley Camp

Grayshott, England

Grayshott is a village in East Hampshire, near the Surry border, near Bramshott Camp.

Graves of the 153rd Men

Four men from the 153rd Battalion were killed in an explosion at the bombing ranges at Bramshott.

Hangard Copse, France

A wooded area on the outskirts of Amiens. Also referred to as Hangard Wood.

Haslemere, England

Haslemere is the most southerly town in Surrey, close to the Bramshott Camp.


A system of communicationg via Morse Code using sunlight and mirrors. Although signallers had to be proficient in the use of the Heliograph, it was seldom used in the trenches, almost never after 1915

Hindhead, England

Hindhead is a village near Bramshott Camp. It is the highest village in Surry, and encompasses the community of Beacon Hill.


Members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF)

Kents Hill

A bombing range near Salisbury Plain.


A highland Regiment, noted for wearing Kilts.

Lamp Reading

Using signal lamps for communicationg. Typically using Morse Code.

Linchmere, England

Linchmere is a small town in west Susses, about 3 km south-east of Bramshott and 3 km south-west of Haslemere.

Liphook, England

A large village near Bramshott Camp.

Loos, France

A small town on the outskirts of Lille in northern France

Lucas and Lyon Lamps

Lamps with focused beams used for signalling using Morse code.

Magnicourt, France

A town about 20 km west of Lens.

Maroeuil, France

A small village, just north of Arras.

Medical Officer

Physician Officer responsible for the health of the men in a unit.

Mills Bombs

Mills Bombs were the first fragmentation hand grenades. Varients of these could eithre be thrown or launched from rifles.

Mingoval, France

Mingoval is a small village 15km north-west of Arras

Mont-Saint-Éloi, France

Mont-Saint-Éloi is a town located 8 km north-west of Arras, on the banks of the Scarpe river.


Navy and Army Canteen Board.

Nine Elms

Nine Elms is located in Thelus, just east of Neuville Saint Vaast. Today it is a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital

One of the first and one of the largest of the British hospitals established at the outbreak of hostilities in 1914. Located in Norfolk.


Officer Commanding


A London theatre opened in 1910, noted as a premier venue for variety performances.

Pankhurst, Emmeline

Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote.

Penin, France

Penin is a small village to the north of Lens

Pay Parade

Pay Parade is where the soldiers line up to receive pay


Quarter Master. Sometimes Quartermaster Sergeant, or Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant. A non-commissioned officer that takes charge of the company stores.


A bugle, trumpet or bag pipe call used to wake the troops.


A small trench dug in the front lines, leading into "No Mans Land".

Seaford, England

Seaford is a coastal town in the county of East Sussex, on the south coast of England.

Segregation Camp

An area where newly arrived soldiers were quarantined to ensure that they had no communicable diseases.

Servins, France

Servins is a town about 18 km west of Lens

Small Arms Ammunition (SAA)

Southampton, England

Southampton is located in Hampshire in the south of England It is one of the largest ports in England, and was a major debarcation/embarcation point for soldiers in the war.

Stand To

Stand to arms. Typically every man on the line was expected to be ready, rifle loaded, bayonet fixed, at dawn and dusk, ready to repel any enemy attack that might come at these times. Stand To typically lasted between 30 minutes and an hour.

Tin Town

A local name for an area at most camps that had a a large number of tin shacks, often that sold goods (often overpriced) to soldiers. There was a "Tin Town" at Bramshott, Kimnel Park, and Whitley, among others.

Tincques, France

A small village west of Arras. On July 1, 1918 the Canadian Corps held a large sporting event there. A photo of the troops can be seen here.

Tug Wire

A wire connected to a bell (or other sounding device) that officers could pull to signal others to come to the officers shelter.

Under Two Flags

Under Two Flags was a popular movie, filmed in 1912 and based on a best selling novel from the late 1860's by Ouida.

Warrent Officer Regimental Depot

Whitley Camp

A camp set up in Whitley Common, Surrey, England, about 7 miles from Bramshott. It was part of the Aldershott command and one of the major Canadian training areas in England.