Private John Cushnie Collection

Gentleman's Diary & Letters Home - January 1918

Diary & Letters January 1918

Private John Cushnie wrote approximatly 91 letters home from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 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.

Diary January 1918

Tuesday, January 1
New Year’s Day being a holiday we didn’t get up until 8.45.  We played cards all morning and read books.  In afternoon Eedy and I got cleaned up and went to Haslemere.
We had a nice meal at the Station Tea Room after which we went to the Cinema.
Walked home – very slippery especially climbing up the hill.
Cold and Windy.

Wednesday, January 2
Went to school in morning as per usual and didn’t do much work.
Fell in for sports in the afternoon but didn’t stay out long.  We had a tug-of war and also a few races between our hut and another and was very tired when we were through.  At night a bunch of us went to the Garrison Theatre where we saw “Under Two Flags” which was very good indeed.

Cold and bright

Thursday, January 3
Got up at reveille for a change.  Applied for a pass to Ireland with Eedy.  Got letter from Charlie Cringle.  Outside work at school all morning.

Clear and cold

Friday, January 4
Fine bright day.  Route march to Punch Bowl and back.  Not very hard.  Got my A. Certificate from Seaford, Steele and Fitch getting First Class.  Got a big bunch of mail.

Saturday, January 5
Got a big bunch of Canadian mail.  Spent the afternoon writing letters and scrubbed bed-boards at night except on Sunday as we didn’t have anything else to do.

Cold and bright

Sunday, January 6
Went to church Parade in the morning.  Went up to Tintown with Win to go to church for Communion.  We made a mistake and got into a C of E hut.  However we took our communion there.  Wrote letters all afternoon trying to keep warm in the Recreation Hut. And beside the fire in the hut.

Wet & Cold.

Monday, January 7
We had Fueler Pair Work (?) at the school all morning.  Had to work with Gas Masks at the “alert” .  Flag work and buzzer in the afternoon.

In the evening went to the Garrison Theatre and saw “Babes in the Wood” – a pantomine which I liked very much .  Our seats were supposed to be for the first show or rather the second but the usher was too slow to see through it so we stayed for the first show.

Tuesday, January 8
This day my turn came for Hut Orderly and it was a sorry day for me.  Woke at reveille and went right to Cookhouse.  After breakfast we began to clean up the hut, Bill and Walters helping me.  No fire allowed in the hut from reveille to retreat while it was snowing and very cold outside.  Water was frozen in fire pails.  The adjutant inspected the hut and took my name for not having all the windows open.  The boys put on a fire at noon and as I had to put it out after they left, had to clean up all over again.  In afternoon a staff officer found fault with tables & called me a liar.  Rec’d box from Grace W.

Wednesday, January 9
School in morning.  Started lamp & damper tests outside but the snow stopped it so we spent the rest of the morning in the Y.W. C. A.  Eedy, Overill and I were excused parade in afternoon because we had to get ready for pass.  Were paraded to MO and Paymaster.  Drew L. 10s pay to go on leave with.  Spent all evening getting ready for the morning.  Our passes & transportation were brought around by orderly Sgt at 10 PM.  Slept with Eedy next to stove and was nearly roasted.

Thursday, January 10
Fire alarm woke us up at 5 am.  Didn’t have time to make the bed but hiked for station.  Caught the 6.30 at Haslemere & got in London about 9.  Went to the Eagle Hut for cleanup and breakfast.  Visited Tower of London & saw the Crown Jewels and the great walls of the city.  Went to matinee of Chu Chin Chow at His Majesty’s.  Costumes were grand also the orchestra and music.  After supper we took a tube for  Preston & caught our train for Stranraer, got out at Crewe & Cardisle for a bite to eat and slept most of the way.

Friday, January 11
Eedy woke me at Stranraer.  Walked off station platform right onto the boat.  Pulled out of Stranraer about 6.30 sm.  Stayed up on deck all the way.  Hugged the shore most of the trip & were hardly ever out of sight of land.  No one was sick & we made the passage in 2 hours.  Disembarked at Port of Larne and took train for Belfast where we arrived about 11 am.  Went to Soldier’s Club but didn’t like it so we put up at Monteiths’ Hotel.  We were very tired after so much travelling but after a wash & clean up felt better.  Saw Duggle-Duggle – a revue at night & went right home to bed.

Saturday, January 12
Pats watch stopped very conveniently next morning & it was 11.30 when we went downstairs.  After a bite of breakfast we sallied out for sight seeing.  Made a date with 2 girls from top of building for 1 oclock.  Took a train for the Belfast Castle but we couldn’t get in without a permit.  Met our friends & said we’d see them at Airship Exhibition.  Saw opening of Airship Exhibition.  Heard speeches by Lord Lieut of Ireland, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Countess of Drogheda and others.  German captured aeroplanes also on exhibition.  In evening met Urgud (?) & Hannah and took them to the Pictures Show. Back to hotel about 12 PM.

Sunday, January 13
Got up about 6.30 and caught our train for Derry.  Tried to travel 2nd class but were kicked out into a 3rd class one.  Were alone all way and pretty cold as it was snowing heavily.  Got in Derry about 10.40 and stopped at Boyd’s Hotel.  Had a wee lunch and walked around seeing the old city wall.  Derry is a very old place & rather slow.  Went back to Boyd’s & had supper there best food in 6 mos.   Went to Presyterian Church in evening.  Spent a couple of hours snowballing & watching sleigh riding.  Met Agnes Dovonay & had a good time with her.  Very tired arrived home at 11.40 pm.

Monday, January 14
Our reveille was at 11.40. People in house thought us fearfully lazy.  After breakfast we went down town.  Met Lt. Pinkerton in a book store.  It was snowing pretty hard so we went back to Hotel.  After tea we met our friends “The Girleys”. After a shave we went to the “Grand Opera” where we saw a <illegible> Show.  Upon coming out we wandered into hotel after a while where we found the girls in sitting room.  Had a good time with them for over an hour before going to bed.  Eedy stole their key when going up the stairs.

Tuesday, January 15
Arose at 6.30 by proprietor of the hotel.  Went into room below and sid good-bye to the “Girleys”.  Caught 7.25 train for Belfast.  Had company most of the way including two very nice little Irish girls.  Mine being Laurina Taylor.  Arriving at Belfast we took the girls to dinner and after that to the Picture Palace.  The pictures were very good and we also heard …? Norman Williams sing.  Left girls on coming out.  Bought a few curios & had lace handkerchiefs home.  After a bite to eat we went to station.  Our friends came at last moment.  Had a good trip across on boat.           

Wednesday, January 16
I was very uncomfortable on the train as were too crowded.  Arrived in London at 6.30 and went direct toEagle Hut where we had breakfast and met Overill.  Booked seats for ZigZag and had dinner at Lyons. It was great and I enjoyed it very much.  After it was through we went to Palladium where we saw a medicine (?) show.  Took a tube from Paladium for Aldwich & had a bite to eat at Eagle Hut.  Went to Waterloo about 10.15 and had a hard job to find a seat.  Train very crowded – 10 in our compartment.  Arrived at Liphook and in camp about 1 am.

Saturday, January 19
Went up to school in morning and found out that I had been shoved up to No 1 draft.  Had tests all morning outside although it was raining most of the time.  in afternoon I went to Tintown where I got my laundry.  Met Buck in Elgin Café and had a cup of tea with him.  He is going back to Canada this week.  After supper I scrubbed bed boards and wrote quite a number of letters before going to bed.

Weather – Rain

Sunday, January 20
Church Parade in the morning in the Recreation Room.  After that we had MO’s inspection and I spent most of the morning writing letters.  I also received a nice letter from Iris Bennet.  In afternoon we played cards and wrote letters nearly all the time.  Was very sleepy at night and fell asleep on Morrison’s bed.  Bill came and woke me up & went to bed early.

Rain as usual but not very cold.

Monday, January 21
We had muster roll call parade at 8 am.  Got up to school about 20 minutes late.  Had buzzer and knot tying in morning .  Line schemes all afternoon. I didn’t have to do much as I was relief operator.  The signallers are all put on for fire brigade this week.  We were told to fall in at 5.30 and I was the only one from our hut to go out.  Orderly sergeant came into hut afterwards and took the names, mine included.
Weather Fine & bright 

Tuesday, January 22
Had line scheme at school all morning with No 2 Draft.  Clair, Smith, Winfield and I had a lot of fun cutting other peoples’ lines.  Flag drill before dinner.  Lamp pair work in the afternoon and buzzer practice.  Speer and Lewis were sent back to their units for bumming off in the morning.  Played cards in evening & cleaned my equipment.
Weather – Clear in morning but heavy showers in afternoon.

Wednesday, January 23
At 6.30  am Steele came in and warned us that adjutant was coming around to catch us in bed.  We all got up in a hurry and when he came in we were all up.  At school in morning we had the line scheme again.  A draft was called from the 25th for 49th Ba.  The  149th fellows volunteered for it.  In afternoon had sports and I went off early and cleaned my equipment.  At 5.30 pm Fire Brigade fell in and worked for 2 ½ hrs. in Sgts mess.
Weather – cloudy.

Thursday, January 24
Got up early but didn’t have breakfast because I was feeling rather rotten.  At the school we had a visual signalling scheme all day.  I was on a busy station with Archie, Winnie, Smithy, Louie, McH., Fraser and we shoved through a lot of messages.  Winnie was up before the Colonel for saying “B.S.” on parade and got 7 days FP. Got off early from fire brigade with Archie.  Went to bed early as I didn’t feel very well.
Weather – bright & sunshiny

Friday, January 25
Felt pretty tough on getting up with a headache and sore throat.  Had Fuelar (?)Pair work all morning.  The “Wop” was my working partner.  In the afternoon we had a hard route march down to Liphook and around back by Shatterwiell.  Had a sore ankle and was very tired when we got back.  Fell in with Fire Brigade at 5.30 but got off early again.  Wrote a couple of letters and went into the smoking concert in Recreation Room.  It being “Burns night” Capt Forster gave a good speech on “Scotland & Burns”.  Free smokes
Fine and Bright.

Saturday, January 26
In the morning at the School we had a review lecture after which we went outside and had lamp reading and Flag drill.  There was a very heavy fog and we didn’t see much of the lamp.  After dinner I got a book from library in recreation room and read all afternoon.  In the evening played 500 for a while and read the rest of the time.
Weather Foggy

Sunday, January 27
Instead of going on Church Parade I went down to the Company Orderly room and scrubbed tables.  Wrote letters and read in the afternoon.  After supper Bill and I went down to Haslemere.  We went to a Methodist Church which was packed right fully.  The preacher was a Canadian Lance Corpl. But I didn’t like him very well as he was too English for me.  After a bite to eat we headed for home.
Beautiful warm day like spring. 

Monday, January 28
Orderly Officer came around before we were all up but he didn’t take any names.  In the morning we had tests for the whole morning.  I read with “wop”.  In afternoon we had flapper pair work first period.  Johnston was my working partner and we didn’t do much work.  Last period we had a lecture in the Y by Lieut Simmons.  I wrote two letters during the lecture.  We were paid at night & I got the magnificant <illegible> off.
Clear & Bright

Tuesday, January 29
Got up early and was ready for parade about an hour too soon.  In the morning we had line work at the ranges and in afternoon Helio work outside.  In evening we went to Garrison Theatre.  We expected to see “David Garrick” but as the leading man was ill so they played “Mr Wu” instead.  It was rotten and not worth going to see.
Weather – Bright & Clear

Wednesday, January 30
In the morning we had a lamp and compass scheme at the school.  It was very foggy at first but it cleared up about 10.30.  In afternoon we paraded to the Gymkhana Field where there was to be a football match between South Africans & Canadians.  Waited around for about an hour; Smithy and I got tired waiting and went home.  Played cards & read all night going to bed early about 8.30 pm.
Weather – Bright & Clear

Thursday, January 31
In the morning at the school we had long distance flag reading with telescopey.  Winnie, Smithy and I were on one station but there was so much mist in the valley that we couldn’t get our station so we lay down on the hillside and had a sleep.  In afternoon we had flag reading and buzzer reading.
Weather – Bright but misty in morning

Letters January 1918

Date Description
Monday, January 07, 1918 Displeasure at conscription exemptions
Sunday, January 20, 1918 The Tower of London, Chu Chin Chow and Ireland
Sunday, January 27, 1918 Snowstorm in Londonderry