Private John Cushnie Collection

Gentleman's Diary & Letters Home - February 1918

Diary & Letters February 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 February 1918

Friday, February 1
At the school we had a little buzzer and flag station work in the morning.  Route march in afternoon.  Wore Gas Respirators at the alert position.  Got alarm and had to march with respirators on for about half a mile.  Went about 10 miles getting back about 4.45.  Found Ted Renwick and Alex Findlay waiting for me.  Ted being on 14 days leave from France.  Went up to Tintown and had some supper.  They left for Whitley about 6.45 and I went to bed early.
Cool and Bright.

Saturday, February 2
Cabled home for L7 today.
We had tests at the school all morning.  I didn’t do very well. After dinner I went up to Tintown to get my laundry but it wasn’t done.  Posted the box containing the pipe and harp.  I also cabled home for 7 pounds.  Read and played cards the rest of the day getting a book out of the recreation room library.  After supper went up to Tintown again but didn’t get my laundry yet.  Had a bath at the Moir baths.
Weather – Cold & Foggy

Sunday, February 3
Didn’t go on church parade because I was detailed for scrubbing in the hut.  At 10.30 Archie, Bill, Jervis & I went to church at the Garrison Church Hut.  Shortly after dinner Archie Gillies came in from Whitley.  After a talk we went for a walk around by Bramshott Church where we saw the graves of the 153rd men.  Arrived back in time for supper.  After supper we played cards and wrote letters until bedtime.
Weather – Warm & Bright.

Monday, February 4
Brigade Scheme all morning at the school.  Milne, Pritchard and I were on the one station.  In the afternoon we were over at the YMCA.  Lieut Simmons gave a review lecture on the heliograph and Lucas and Lyons lamp.  After that we had lamp sending and buzzer sending.  After supper went up to Tintown & got laundry.  No 2 Coy started  eating at the second sitting this morning. Weather – Rain, Very wet and Muddy

Tuesday, February 5
Station work in the morning outside.  Dwight, Carswell and I were on a terminal station.  Sgt. Wilson got things pretty well balled up and the morning’s work wasn’t much of a success.  After dinner we had the Brigade Phone Scheme all afternoon and as we were on an emergency line we didn’t have much to do.  10 of our fellows had to go to Lynchmere for digging dugouts all day.
Weather – Rain all day

Wednesday, February 6
Buzzer reading first in the morning and then Lamp Pair work.  Milne and I were on the home station.  First I closed the door over the lamp & Milne was trying to get the other station with no light.  Then our lamp went dis(?) and we had to signal with flag.  In the afternoon we had a lecture on bombing in B14 and got off early.  Went to bed early at night .  Heard rumours of drafts for 89th . Caur(?), 49th MaP(?)
Weather, cold and rain in afternoon.

Thursday, February 7
I was Hut Orderly.  After breakfast we got busy & cleaned up everything in the hut as best we could.  Went into mess room & had to shine the big mess tuis (?) with Bluebell.  The adjutant inspected the hut and found fault with a dirty coal bucket, and the stove.  In the afternoon we had to go into the mess room again & shine some more pans.  By the evening mail I got a letter from Agnes W. and also a picture from Iris Bennet.
Weather – Rain all day
Very muddy & sloppy.

Friday, February 8
Although it was raining in the morning, we had lamp station work all morning.  However it cleared off somewhat about 10 am and we had a good work out.  Instead of a route march in the afternoon we went over to Kent Hill for bombing.  We threw 2 live Mills grenades and also fired 2 rifle grenades and got home about 4 oclock.  Had a bath after supper and read most of the evening.
Weather – Rain in morning but fine in afternoon.

Saturday, February 9
It being Saturday morning we had tests as per usual.  The new Seaford class was formed up taking ….Smith, Pritchard, L…. & McCole from 25th .  After dinner I washed our bed boards and read rest of the time.  Seven fellows from the 149th are to be transferred to the 21st Reserve for the purpose of going to 49th Battalion.  After supper wrote a few letters.  Got a Canadian mail today – 6 letters.
Weather – Dull and very windy towards night

Sunday, February 10
After coming off Church Parade Pritchard and I set out for Hindhead Church.  We were stopped at Tintown by a couple of MP’s so we had to go around by hospital.  After church was over we walked on to Beacon Hill Inn and had luncheon.  Coming back we dropped into Hindhead YMCA and spent a pleasant hour playing checkers.  Mrs Pankhurst spoke at the Garrison Theatre in afternoon.  Got a letter from home and one from E.E.  Wrote letters all evening.
Weather – Dull but no rain

Monday, February 11
In the morning we had lamp reading first period and a lecture at the YMCA until dinner time.  Fraser and I got 4 RD’s(?) each and were sent up to help send the lamp.  On the afternoon parade the phone men were detailed off and I was put on the 20th Res phone.  We had buzzer reading until 4 oclock.  Played cards and read most of evening.  Got letters from Aunt Annie, Mary Chilcott and Stanley Stephens.
Weather – Rainy

Tuesday, February 12
Went on duty at 7 am in the 20th Res. Orderly room.  Was pretty busy all morning.  Got one 171 word message.  Played cards all afternoon.  After supper wrote a letter to Andra McE. Went to the Garrison Theatre with Bill Kerr to see “The Blindness of Virtue” It was very grand indeed.  Went on duty again coming back from the show.  Turned in about 11.30 am.
Weather – Dull & Rain.

Wednesday, February 13
Was relieved off phones at 7 am and had the rest of the day to myself until 5 P.M.  got paid in the morning with the battalion, getting L. 10/.  In the afternoon Sgt. Howell came into hut and took 11 names for 18th Ba(ttalion), Euart Archie Bill & I all getting on.  We didn’t stay on very long though as the 149th fellows had to go first.  Went on duty at 5 P.M. and was busy right until 8.30 getting 8 messages.  Ran out of C forms and had to borrow some from 25th
Weather – Fair

Thursday, February 14
In the morning I helped clean up the hut and took a walk up to the school to get “C” forms.  Milne, Harrison & Wilfred on draft for 18th Ba(ttalion) with Morrison and Hammond as waiting men.  Went on duty at 12 P.M. and was busy for about 2 hours only.  Was taken off phones as three 20th men were put on their own phone.  Played cards all night and wrote a couple of letters.  Sent snaps down to be developed.
Weather – Very dull.

Friday, February 15
At 9 am we had a muster parade , the last parade of the 25th Res.  The Colonel spoke for a few minutes and then we were dismissed and did nothing the rest of the morning.  After dinner we paraded with the 4th Reserve for Route march.  There were about 1600 men on parade altogether.  2 platoons of signallers, the 25th & the 4th .  They took us down to Haslemere and back and went much too slow.  Got back about 4.45 Pm.  Went to bed early that night as I was tired after the route march.
Weather – Fair

Saturday, February 16
Had a buzzer test at the school in the morning after which Bill, Archie and I paraded up to the DC (?) and had our names put in for the first draft for the first draft for the 1st Ba.  After dinner we had a snap of the fellows in the hut taken. Bill, Archie, Euart & I went for a walk and took some more snaps.  At night went over to the Y and stayed for concert.  It was real good and I enjoyed it very much.  Had a feed before going to bed of …?, toast, coffee etc.
Weather – Bright & Cool

Sunday, February 17
My turn for hut orderly today.  Didn’t have to do much in the hut as the scrubbing fatigue cleaned it up.   Hump? And I scrubbed the tables, benches etc.  Got off easy in the mess room too as we only had to sweep up.  Heard that first bunch of conscripts were in the segregation camp.  Got a letter from home and one from Iris.  Wrote a few letters at night & didn’t go out .  ,,,? caught at Liphook without a pass.
Weather – Fine.

Monday, February 18
At 8 am we had a muster parade on the 4th Parade Grounds after which we had MO’s inspection.  Went up to school about 10.30 am.  Eedy, Emeril & I went up into bush for rest of morning.
In afternoon we had Brigade phone scheme but it wasn’t much of a success as exchange was no good.
Pritchand, Havelock & Smithy went to Seaford for Signal Course.  Went up to Tintown, got laundry & spent all my money.  Bought ticket for Friday night’s show.

Tuesday, February 19
Had breakfast  at the 4th Cookhouse and had to wait about ½ hr before getting it.  At the school we had helio? Station work all day.  Overill, 142nd fellow, & myself were on one station on the other side of _____? Not very satisfactory work as other station couldn’t kepp on their light.  Got off early about 4 PM
Didn’t get hardly any supper at the 4th Cookhouse – only bread, cake & tea.
Felt rather tired at night so went to bed early.
Weather – Fair

Wednesday, February 20
At the school in the morning we had a Fuller Phone.  Brigade Scheme all morning.  Overill & I were on the one station and didn’t have much to do because Exchange operator was no good.
Fell in for sports in the afternoon but didn’t stay on long.
A Canadian mail came in today.
Wrote letters at night.
Weather – Fine

Thursday, February 21
Visual scheme at the school in the morning.  Wm, Hemp & I were on one station and had a good workout.
At noon I was warued? for phones in Patterson’s place who was put on waiting now for 2nd Pioneer Draft.
Went on duty at 2 PM.  Very hot in WORD? Orderly Room and hardly anything to do.
Got a box from Ella Edgar and some letters.
Weather - Fair

Friday, February 22
Went on duty at 7 AM in WORD orderly Room. Handled only 2 messages all morning.
In the afternoon Euart and I each got a pass and went down to Haslemere.  Got some snaps for Harrison and had a bite to eat.
After supper said goodbye to Milne, Harrison and Wilfrid who left on draft for 18th Ba(ttalion).
We went to Garrison Theatre and say “Our Miss Gibbs” a musical comedy which was very good.  Slept in Orderly Room all night.
Weather – cloudy

Saturday, February 23
Came off duty at 7 am and found that we had to move.  Moved all our stuff to C1 in the fourth reserve lines.  Took Walters’ place while he moved.  Got a hair cut.
After dinner Bill & I washed our bed boards and bummed around all afternoon.  Went on duty at 5 PM.  Saw Harold Drummond, just returned from France. Didn’t get or give a message all night.
Weather - Clear

Sunday, February 24
Nothing in particular doing all day.  Went on duty at 12 PM until ?  PM
Got a box from home.  Wrote a lot of letters.

Monday, February 25
On duty at 7 am and only got one message all morning.
Euart and I got a pass in the afternoon and went for a walk down to Grayshott.  Took some snaps into Harrisons to be printed.  Had a little eat in a restaurant.
Got a letter from Iris after supper.
Went on duty at 10 PM and slept on a table in the Orderly Room.
Weather – Clear & Cool

Tuesday, February 26
Was off duty all day until 5 PM.  Sat around the hut, reading and writing letters until supper time.
On the phone I overheard a call for 7 signallers for the First battalion.  Ran over to the hut and told Euart & Bill about it.  They went up to the school and put our names in for it.
Weather – Cool

Wednesday, February 27
Waited anxiously all morning for news of the draft but none came up to the noon.
Went on duty at noon and only had 2 messages all afternoon.  About 4.45 McHartdy called me up from the 4th and told me I was on draft along with Euart, Bill, Archie, Haverswood, Eedy, Bolton with Winfield & McHardy as waiting men.  Went to last show at night at Garrison Theatre with Jirwine Moir.  We saw “Facing the Music” which was very good.
Weather – Fair

Thursday, February 28
Went on duty at 7 am and didn’t hear anything about the draft at all going over the phone.
That might the sergeant major came in and officially warned us for draft.
Was due to go on duty at 10 PM but only had to stay there a few minutes as little “Smithy” came to relieve me as soon as the last show was out at Garrison Theatre.

Letters February 1918

Date Description
Sunday, February 03, 1918 Seeing old friends at Bramshott
Sunday, February 10, 1918 Suffragette's and food
Sunday, February 17, 1918 Realignment of the CEF in England
Saturday, February 23, 1918 Life in camp, February, 1918