The Norfolk Regiment in Mesopotamia
Captivity in Turkey: from the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Cecil Lodge
January – June 1917
This is a continuation of the postings of 16 November, 2016 and 26 May, 2017. Some entries have been omitted if they are unduly repetitious, or where they contain financial details other than about pay or refer to private family matters. The diaries are held in the archives of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum.
1917 was a momentous year for the continuing campaign in Mesopotamia, as Major E.W.C. Sandes. R.E., who was for a time also imprisoned at Yozgad, describes it in In Kut and Captivity with the Sixth Indian Division:
From the absence of news about the operations in Mesopotamia in February 1917 we concluded that something of importance must be taking place. So many rumours were afloat in the town and they were usually so incorrect that it was difficult to know what to believe. The recapture of Woolpress Village (Liquorice Factory) on February 10th, 1917, leading up to that of Kut on February 24th by General Sir Stanley Maude, was carefully concealed from us by our Turkish staff if they knew of it, and indeed the fall of Baghdad itself on March 11th was denied point-blank by the Turkish officers for a time, and, so far as I know, was never published subsequently in the newspapers till the end of the war. But friendly Greeks and Armenians in the town were always eager to whisper good news to us if opportunity offered – which was very seldom – and we knew of the capture of Baghdad by the middle of March 1917, and celebrated it in proper style.
To those of us in Norfolk who are devotees of the diary of James Woodforde, Rector of Weston Longeville (1776-1803)*, it will come as no surprise that Colonel Lodge begins almost every entry with a description of the weather. He is naturally concerned about the everyday requirement to keep warm during the often bitterly cold Anatolian winter, and the prices that he has to pay for food of doubtful quality, and for firewood. However, his most regular entries concern letters, especially from his wife, Margaret: he awaits them anxiously and becomes impatient when they are delayed. He is always pleased to have news of their twins, Francis Robert and Frances Cecilia, born in 1914. The distribution of parcels, particularly those which contain books are always welcomed.
He also records the sight of poverty-stricken Armenian women and children being herded along the street at Yozgad (Yozgat). He comments, “What they are going to do with them one hardly dare ask”. Of the Armenian Genocide, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey 1913-16, Henry Morgenthau, wrote: “I am firmly convinced that this is the greatest crime of the ages.”
Lodge also enjoys the evening lectures and the concerts with which the enterprising British officers divert themselves, and gives a hint to the ‘supernatural’ pastimes of some of the officers.
In October 1917 he was moved from Yozgad to another of the internment centres at Afion Kara-Hissar, through which he passed during his march into captivity in the summer of 1916. Following this move his diary entries are shorter and less informative until he becomes settled in. Of course, at that time he had no notion of the how long his captivity would last. News was received only in snatches, and he makes no mention of the revolution in Russia which was to transform the Eastern Front.
It is worth remembering that those rank and file soldiers who survived the march from Shumran were enduring far worse conditions in the Taurus and Amanus Mountains, where long tunnels had to be pierced through very hard rock, and many river gorges bridged to complete the two missing sections of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. These were labour camps rather than prisons, but the work was hard and unrelenting, provisions were short, the climate was often harsh, experiencing extremes of heat and cold, and diseases such as gastritis, dysentery, and a particularly virulent strain of malaria were common. Where the camps were under the control of German engineers, there was no active ill-treatment and some medical facilities were available. Between the long hours of back-breaking work, a certain amount of freedom for prisoners was permitted. Maintaining health was the key to survival in these camps. See ‘Report on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War in Turkey, H.M.S.O., November 1918’. http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/report-on-treatment-of-british-prisoners-of-war-in-turkey
* The Parson Woodforde Society: http://www.parsonwoodforde.org.uk
1st January, 1917
New Year’s Day was ushered in by a thick fall of snow during the night; it must be about 3 inches deep. Went out after breakfast to lower house where I came in for a big snow fight; got me in the eye and another down my neck. I don’t like it as much as I used to.
Major E.W.C. Sandes writes in a little more detail:
The months of January and February 1917 at Yozgad were extremely cold. The greater number of the prisoners of war in our camp had come from Mesopotamia, and were unaccustomed to the hardships caused by temperatures in the region of zero Fahrenheit. If our houses had had well fitting doors and windows, thick walls, and good fireplaces, thirty degrees of frost at night would have had no terrors for us; but, living as we did in flimsy structures with walls six inches thick and with cracks around every window through which the icy east wind whistled and the snow drifted, we found our existence by no means a happy one. Yet, if we suffered at times from the rigours of the Yozgad winter, we enjoyed at any rate some of the winter sports which the snow and ice made possible. Every one who prided himself on a rudimentary notion of carpentry turned his hand to the manufacture of a “luge” or a toboggan of some sort, and many were the designs and wonderful the names bestowed on the finished articles. Each afternoon while the snow was deep we enjoyed ourselves on a short toboggan-run which we made on the hillside outside the town, and the enthusiasts in the sport also made a “Cresta Run” down the small zigzag path in our upper house garden, where they could dash themselves against stone walls or upset over a four foot drop at any time during the day if they felt that their livers would benefit by it. In Kut and Captivity with the Sixth Indian Division
Upper House, Yozgad, to where Lt. Col. Lodge had moved on 20 November 1916
from ‘In Kut and Captivity with the Sixth Indian Division’ by Major E.W.C. Sandes, 1919
2nd January, 1917
More snow during the night & still snowing this morning: there is a N.E. Wind blowing. Wrote p.c. [postcard] No.12 d/ 3/1/17 to M [Margaret, his wife].
3rd January, 1917
Dull, with more snow about; it is freezing so the snow is still thick on roofs and hills. Received Liras 3 from [American] Embassy. This wintry weather without books etc. is very trying, as we cannot get out much and they won’t (can’t) take us for walks. Saw a poor little mite walking about in the snow with bare feet, it was crying from cold, it really is terrible; the poor people here have absolutely nothing in the way of clothes, except rags.
4th January, 1917
Lovely bright morning, freezing hard, with no clouds about; a very much more cheering day.
A good mail in.
Letters d/ 3rd & 6th Dec & p.c. 1 Dec from M. …
5th January, 1917
Stayed in bed feeling not up to the mark.
6th & 7th & 8th January, 1917
Still in bed.
9th January, 1917
Baines at last took my temperature 103.4 [°Fahrenheit]*. So proceeded to dose me with quinine.
* The average normal body temperature is generally accepted as 98.6°F (37°C). A temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) generally means you have a fever caused by an infection or illness. ** Quinine was the standard Anglo-Indian remedy for what Kipling referred to as “a touch of fever”, “seasonal fever”, or “Lahore Fever”: in fact, malaria. Being bitter to taste, quinine was usually taken in a glass of sherry, or with water and lime juice. Mixed with soda water and sugar, it became an ingredient of ‘Indian Tonic Water’.
10th January, 1917
Very buzzy all day having taken about 35 grs. [grains]* of quinine. An awful lot for me, as a rule I only take 3 or 5.
* 1 grain is the equivalent of 64.8 milligrams.
Design for a standard one dose (7 grains) packet of quinine in India
India Office Records: IOR/P/6579
11th January, 1917
Better today still a little fever; am very weak in my legs and find going downstairs to Aunt Jane* very trying. [He reports the arrival of two letters and a postcard from Margaret: two posted in mid December, but one posted as early as 21 August 1916, and three other letters.]
* A euphemism for going to the toilet. People of Lodge’s generation would politely excuse themselves to ‘pay a visit to Aunt Jane, or to Auntie’.
15th January, 1917
Fine bright day. Got up after breakfast, having been in bed 10 days. Very weak.
17th January, 1917
Fine. There are several French families interned here, who are reported to have come from Samsum*; they are allowed to go out for walks whenever they like; we sometimes get a little news from them.
*Samsun is a city on the Black Sea coast of Turkey which, in 1914, had an Armenian community estimated at 35,000. There are reported to be no Armenians in Samsun today.
18th January, 1917
Bright and frosty. A small mail, no letters for me. 15 donkeys are said to have been sent into MAIDEN* to bring out parcels for us; the road is unfit for wheeled traffic, so they say!
* Lodge passed though Maiden / Maidam on his march from Angora (modern Ankara). He describes it as a large village: it is probably Denek Ma’aden, now incorporated into the town of Keskin which lies approximately 17 miles south-east of Kirikkale.
28th January, 1917
Thawing. Parcels given out to day. I got 4 and 1 from the Norfolk Prisoners of War Help Society containing warm vests & drawers (5). My own parcels were 2 from Fortnum & Mason. 1lb. of tea. 1 parcel of books.
30th January, 1917
Milder, some rain., walking horribly slushy, did not go out. Market prices this month. Honey 50p. [50 piastres – see previous posting] Butter 55 (salt) Flour 7½ Lard 32p. Figs 32ps Meat 6ps Mutton 7p. Potatoes 5 Soap 80 Sugar 70 oil 4 liras 25ps per tin. Another parcel came in yesterday.
1st February, 1917
Fine to begin with, but it clouded over. Had a little exercise in the lane, which was very wet and muddy. Paid Lethbridge* 6 liras for messing for January.
* Lt.-Col. E.H.E. Lethbridge, 1st Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.
The Lane at Yozgad where Lt. Col. Lodge and the other prisoners exercised.
Photograph taken on a sunny day with an illicit camera.
from ‘The Road to En-dor’, E.H. Jones, Hesperus Press, 2014
10th February, 1917
A lovely day, with a very hard frost 11° [F.] at 10.30 a.m. Got out for a walk in the lane after breakfast. A parcel containing a French-Engl dictionary given me today. Posted letter No.17 to M. and a p.c. to Ethel.
11th – 12th February, 1917
Fine. We had to complain about our bread, which is very bad, not nearly so good as that supplied to the sentries, it is badly baked, dirty, and full of grit. We got no change; they said we were not allowed to buy from baker who supplied the forementioned ration. Letter d/ 19th September from M….
13th February, 1917
Fine. Heard U.S.A. had practically declared war on Germany.
18th & 19th February, 1917
Fine and frosty. On the 19th just after dinner 3 more prisoners, naval officers, were ushered into our house. These three had escaped some months ago & had been recaptured. They gave us a very interesting description of their adventures. They all belonged to sub-marines. They were in prison at Constantinople for 10 months herded with common criminals & from the accounts they must have had a hard time.
Mail in 2 letters from M. d/ 10th & 17th Jan. Letter from Mother d/ 31st Dec and one from Ethel d/ 11th Jan.
20th February, 1917
Fine. I hear there are some parcels for me. The 3 officers are to stay in this house, this will crowd us a bit, and they have no orderlies.
23rd February, 1917
Snow again today. I got 3 parcels one of 2 tins of 3 Nuns tobacco & 2 boxes from Norfolk PofW Society containing tinned beef and, I think, lard in tins.
26th & 27th February, 1917
Still bitterly cold, but bright with very little thaw even in the sun. A very pathetic sight passed our windows today. A large party of Armenian derelicts, women and children headed by a battered priest; they were all utterly weary and broken, probably they had had no food. Nearly every one was carrying all their worldly goods consisting of dirty bedding etc. Some were even carrying a baby in addition. They were being herded along by a soldier. A horrid sight. What they are going to do with them one hardly dare ask.
28th February, 1917
Fine. Weather looks like changing, as there are clouds about.
Prices for Feb.
Oil per tin 10 Liras Beef 8ps Bread 1¼ per loaf Milk 7ps Lamb 7ps Potatoes 6ps Onions 6ps Butter 65ps Flour 7½ ps Figs 35ps Apples 15ps Raisins 12ps Sugar 110ps Tea 400ps Farthing Dips* 2½ ps Honey 45ps Wine 20ps Chalwar** 25ps
* A tallow dip candle. ** This is probably an Anglo-Indian spelling for Halva, a sticky, sweet confection made usually from semolina, ghee, and sugar.
1st March 1917
Weather milder. Received a letter from American Ambassador d/ 14 Feb saying that he had had a communication from his Embassy, London asking after my health, from Mr. Lodge [his Father] 8 Talbot Square. Answered this today saying I was in good health.
9th March 1917
Mild and springlike. Three ariba loads of parcels arrived. Two more prisoners turned up, Woodlands*, Nightingale, naval air service. They were brought down when making a reconnaissance near Jaffa [Palestine]; their engine being blown up, both were wounded; they came down tail first and were picked up insensible; the Arabs behaved very brutally to them, fortunately they were saved by a German officer.
* Lieutenant P. M. Woodland, R.N. Volunteer Reserve, the steeplechase jockey and winner of the Grand National in 1913 on Covertcoat.
10th March 1917
Springlike. Saw some starlings this morning, they have just come in.
Parcels were given out before dinner, a record, as they only arrived yes’day.
2 from Norfolk P. of W. Aid Socty containing underwear
1 from Ethel with shoes, tobacco, cocoa, etc.
1 large tin of biscuits
1 of three books
1 Towels & jig-saw puzzle
1 Fortnum & Mason
All most welcome and useful.
15th March 1917
Fine & springlike. Wind S.E. The various houses have accumulated a large number of dogs & puppies. These are becoming a nuisance – we have 3, a bitch and 2 pups; the difficulty is to get rid of them, but something will have to be done soon.
[Lodge then gives an extract from a letter from Margaret pertaining to his bank account with Messrs Holt & Co.*, in which he relates that his British Army pay from 30th April 1916 to 31st January 1917 was £389-17-6.]
* Holts have been specialist military bankers since 1809 and are now part of the RBS Group.
17th March 1917
Some rain, wind N, cold and raw. Our two puppies have been made away with, a good riddance, as our accommodation is limited. St. Patrick’s Day, there is to be a concert in the hospital house tonight. P.C. No.22 to M. Received 360ps. through Holt & Co.
18th March 1917 Sun[day]
Snow – Service at 11.30 a.m. very cold. Received 475ps. Per Red Cross. …
27th March 1917
The contractor has just got the boot; they say he has been called out as a soldier, but I do not think this is the real reason. We now have to do our own own purchasing in the bazaar, rather a nuisance, as things were working very well. … 3 parcels of books. Macauley’s History. These books have been taken, as they are to go to Constantinople to be censored, so goodness knows when I shall see them again. …
29th – 30th March 1917
Warm and fine.; the storks came in yesterday to their old nest on the hospital house. We have been here 9 months today.
1st & 2nd April, 1917
Mild, but dull. The cherry trees are beginning to bloom, leaves to show.
8th April, 1917 Easter Sunday
At the 11.30 service we had a splendid anthem composed by Edmonds* one of my fellow prisoners. It was well sung by the choir. …
* Lt. P.N. Edmonds, Royal Field Artillery
9th April, 1917
Lovely warm day. I scrubbed our room out this morning, cleaned all the woodwork of the windows and cupboards, tiring job, but the room smells sweet after the cleansing.
15th April, 1917
P.C. No.26 to M. Pay recd for 1½ months, i.e. till the end of February 1917 Liras 15-35.38. Lecture on the Jameson Raid* by Colonel Coventry**.
* The Jameson Raid was an ill-fated venture at the turn of the year 1895-96 to overthrow the Boer government in The Transvaal, South Africa. ** Hon. C.J. Coventry, Worcester Yeomanry
An example of a postcard written home from Yozgad – from Lt. E.H. Jones (I.A.R.O.)
from ‘The Road to En-dor’, E.H. Jones, Hesperus Press, 2014
The text reads:
All well, but weather beginning to get pretty cold. No parcels have reached me yet, but received Ten pounds (making eleven in all). Many thanks. I am glad my son is learning Latin, but the enquiries mentioned have not led to anything yet. However, I think Harry & his friends with the money they are getting will muddle through but for pity’s sake get Uncle Sam to help Gwas and Dynion and Tommy, and then I shall be easy in mind. Keep your tails up and give them all Hell with the lid off. E.H.
The text could sometimes contain hidden messages, in this case:
I am glad my son is learning Latin is a coded message to his father, although the reference is unclear: his son was only 9 months old and too young to know any Latin. Harry and his friends and the money they are getting refers to himself and his fellow prisoners of war. Get Uncle Sam to help Gwas and Dynion and Tommy means get the US Ambassador in Baghdad to help the rank and file (Gwas in Welsh means servant or lad whilst Dynion means men and Tommy is the usual slang for infantryman). Here he is asking his family at home to please get help to the common soldiers and to be very heavy on those who have been mistreating them (give them all Hell with the lid off). The letter was acted upon by his father. www.hesperuspress.com/the-road-to-en-dor/coded-messages.htm
We do not know whether Colonel Lodge used such coded messages, but he and Margaret often wrote in French in an attempt to elude the censor.
24th April, 1917
Bright morning but clouded over later. Tried to call up the “spooks” after dinner no luck.*
* Spooks in 1917 being ghosts or spirits.
In ‘The Road to En-Dor’, Lieutenant. E.H. Jones (Indian Army Reserve Officer) describes how he and Lieutenant C.W. Hill (Royal Flying Corps) used spiritualism to effect their escape from Yozgad. It is a remarkable, indeed fantastic, story and a heartily recommended read.
The Ouija Board
from ‘The Road to En-dor’, E.H. Jones, Hesperus Press, 2014
We closed our eyes.
‘For the last time,’ said Doc. ‘WHO – ARE – YOU?’
The glass began to move across the board.
‘S-,’ Matthews read aloud, ‘A-L-L-Y – SALLY!’
‘Sally,’ Price repeated in a whisper
‘Sally,’ I echoed again.
The Doc. wriggled forward in his chair, tugging up at his coat-sleeves. ‘Keep at it,’ he whispered excitedly. ‘Keep at it, we’ve got one at last.’ And then in a loud voice that had a slight quaver in it – ‘GOOD EVENING, SALLY! HAVE YE ANTHIN’ TO TELL US?’
Sally had quite a lot to tell us.
Captured during the First World War, Lieutenant E.H. Jones and Lieutenant C.W. Hill were prisoners of war at the Yozgad prison camp in Turkey. Bored and with no prospect of escape, Jones received a postcard from an aunt suggesting ouija boards and experiments in spiritualism to pass the time. The letter was to provide the basis for Jones’ escape from Yozgad prison, an escape which began with innocent fun and experimentation but which took the path of a tortuous and dangerous game of bluff with his Turkish captors and ended with terrible hardship in a lunatic asylum in Constantinople – narrowly missing death along the way.
Beginning by hoodwinking fellow inmates, Jones’ antics drew the attention of the camp interpreter Moїse Eskenaz – which lead him to start to perceive the greater potential of his prank. Over the next few months he gradually ensnared Moїse and started to trap the camp commandant. To play the final game though he needed someone, a co-partner, who had skills complementary to his own. As a very proficient amateur magician, Hill fitted that role perfectly and, in February 1918, the two of them embarked on the escape plan during which they ‘communicated’ with Spooks, and led the Turks on an elaborate hunt for buried ‘treasure’, devised means of telepathy for long distance communication, feigned lunacy, faked attempted suicide and set up a complex system of ‘smoke’, mirrors and mirage that completely hoodwinked not only the camp commandant and Turkish medical authorities but also their own people. These mad-cap and incredibly dangerous actions would eventually lead to their escape and return to the United Kingdom. http://www.hesperuspress.com/the-road-to-en-dor
Cedric Hill and Harry Jones in 1922
from ‘The Road to En-dor’, E.H. Jones, Hesperus Press, 2014
27th April, 1917
Brighter, with an E. wind not too cold. It is a year ago Genl. Townshend began his negociation with the Turkish Commander [prior to the surrender of the British-Indian garrison besieged at Kut al Amara].
1st May, 1917
Cold day wind E. mail in, no letters. A number of oxcarts passed today en route to Angora: they were loaded with copper cooking pots (old) and sheets of same metal, they are evidently going to be melted down & used for munitions.
3rd May, 1917
Cold with bright intervals. I went to a very good concert at the hospital house after tea. The glee choir has been extremely well trained by Edmonds. They sang songs, words by Kipling, music by Edmonds. He, Edmonds, is wonderfully clever, the music very pretty and the parts well arranged. We had solos too, some composed by E. The band consisted of 2 violins, a kettle drum home made & played by Dr. Banks, Norf Regt, and a big drum made out of an inverted cooking dish, the effect was quite good. The second part of the programme consisted of a play, written by Major Peel, entitled “All well that ends well” a very creditable performance. It helped to pass a long afternoon from 5.30 till 7.15 p.m. Pay for March 10 Liras less 3ps for stamps.
Prisoners’ Band at Yozgad
Unavailable from the Imperial War Museum online, but with thanks to Tuncay Yilmazer @gelibolu2015
4th May, 1917
Much warmer today. Today a year ago we left Shumran Camp for Baghdad.
5th May, 1917
Letters No.15 d/ 12 March, 18, 19 & 28th March from M.
Letter d/ 31st March from Ethel & P.C. from Red Cross. …
6th May, 1917
Fine. Lecture on Tea by Herbert*.
* Lt. C.C. Herbert, Worcester Yeomanry
8th May, 1917
Warm day. This day 2 years ago I left England for Mesopotamia. Made cream cheese in a sock out of “youart” a great success. We cannot buy cheese in the bazaar. This has been the hottest day we have had, almost necessary to wear a topée. Received 2 money orders through American Embassy from Holt & Co. for 600 and 360 piastres.
9th May, 1917
This day a year ago we arrived at Baghdad from Shumran Camp. No letters by the mail.
10th 11th 12th May, 1917
Rain storm on 11th and thunder on 12th. Mail in no letters. Some of our parcels have been in a week and no attempt has been made to issue them.
13th May, 1917
Wrote p.c. No.30 to M. Lecture on submarines by Cockrane, R.N*
* Lt.-Commander A.D. Cochrane.
14th May, 1917
Parcels given out this morning. I got 8, these contained food, books & a hot water bottle, also a box of cigars from Bullock. A very heavy thunderstorm came over about 4.30 pm with torrential rain. Our roadway was a river, and the stream which passes by the lower house was a raging torrent. I’ve never seen it so full, the stench from it was horrible.
15th May, 1917
Some showers, weather still unsettled. Mail in, letters not given out today. The servants are getting very out of hand; there have been several cases of insubordination and impertinence. One is practically unable to do anything. We hope, however, to send some away, but the Comdt [Bimbashi Kiazim Bey], is a difficult man to get at or move.
16th May, 1917
17th May, 1917
Wrote letter No.31 to M. p.c. to Father.
18th May, 1917
Fine, some showers. Finished reading “Ordeal by Battle” by F.S. Oliver*, an excellent book.
* Frederick Scott Oliver was a Scottish political thinker and businessman. He advocated the creation of a federal state out of the disparate parts of the British Empire. He was an early advocate of conscription and was a vocal opponent of Asquith’s government. His views on conscription were rebutted by John Mackinnon Robertson in ‘The Future of Militarism’, in which he concluded that Oliver’s wartime goal was for conscription to be made permanent as a means of subordinating workers through military discipline at the lowest pay rates.
23rd May, 1917
Misty, looks as if it may turn out fine.
Went and looked over the school next door, which is to be our new house, to relax pressure from upper house. A batch of servants (29) arrived today from Afion Kara Hissar. Two of our men & 2 territorials amongst the number. They were a motley crew & looked like a lot of tramps. They had no transport & had to carry the kit they possessed. Consequently they had to leave a good deal behind. All were very weary after their long march and they had been able to get very little food. I hope to gather some news from them when the period of segregation is over (4 days). I am afraid a great many have died since the fall of Kut. Horrible day: we are all amongst the clouds and the wind bitterly cold.
24th May, 1917
Dull, cold and beastly. Many of the new orderlies are down with fever & 2 with beri-beri. All are very emaciated, but with few days rest with all the food we can get them they ought to buck up.
25th May, 1917
Dull, and wind still east. Today a year ago we reached MOSUL.
28th May, 1917
Fine and warm. Got 5 parcels one of which was for Wigger* [his servant] from Norfolk PoW Aid Society. Mine included a parcel of books. – Fortnum & Mason – Cardigan & tobacco.
* Pte. William John Wigger: born Norwich, 1883
1st June, 1917
The weather has, I think, changed for the better. A nice warm day. Col. Coventry and our cook Khitan left by ariba at 8.15 am this morning for Angora en route, they suspect, for Switzerland. They are to be exchanged, both being unfit, though Col. C. looks fit enough. They were accompanied by 2 askans, these with the driver & kit etc. made a good old crowd in the ariba.
3rd June, 1917
Wrote p.c. to Mother. Lecture on the Uganda Mutiny* by Col. Chitty**.
* A mutiny by Sudanese troops of the British colonial government in the Uganda Protectorate, 1897-98. ** W.W. Chitty, 119th Infantry. Senior British Officer at Yozgad.
6th June, 1917
Three of the new servants came to us today. Wigger becomes our cook & Pte. Brown Norfolk Regiment looks after Lethbridge and self. This is a great comfort having additional help, as we can now have the house kept clean. Gave Lethbridge 5 Liras for messing. In parcel a 7lb. tin of plum jam.
7th June, 1917
Sixteen officers & 8 orderlies came up from the large house to the new house next door to us; this will reduce the crowded state of the upper house. We see a good number of miserably clad & half starved soldiers coming from the East: they all look awfully ill and weak.
9th June, 1917
Hot day. Had our dining room thoroughly scrubbed out, it wanted it!
Letter from M. d/ 3rd May No. 30.
=//= Father d/ 9th May.
P.C. fr. Ethel d/ 24th April. & letter from Richard d/ 3rd May.
Wrote p.c. No.34 to M
10th June, 1917
Some rain. I got 3 parcels 2 of books one was “Genl Gatacre”, a pair of socks and mitts from Mrs Byams. Lecture on Mexican oil fields by Trafford. I lunched with Col. Harwood**.
* Lt. W.E. Trafford, Royal Field Artillery. ** A.J.N. Harward, 48th Pioneers.
11th June, 1917
Dull and colder. Wrote letter No.35 to M. The lower or hospital house have still a number of geese, ducks & chickens. One of the geese has a small gosling which is absolutely tame, it will follow you anywhere: all eat out of your hands. Received 5 Liras through the Dutch Embassy from red Cross Fund.
12th June, 1917
Rather cold, wind N.W. No letters. After 4 nights we eventually completed my gig-saw [sic] puzzle. P.C. No.36 to M.
17th June, 1917
A lecture after lunch by McGhee* on Bee Keeping.
*Lt. D.S. McGhie, Royal Engineers.
24th June, 1917
Padre fit again, service at 11.30. Lecture on Indian Railways.
25th June, 1917
We had to pay 7 Liras for two ox-cart loads of wood & small ones at that. The usual price was 120ps. Two Croissant Rouge money orders …
28th June, 1917
Got 2 parcels, one from Fortnum & Mason & the other contained two balaclava helmets & a pair of socks.
30th June, 1917
Have been here a year today –
Hot. 81° in the shade. No letters. We were had up in batches to the Comdt’s office, when we had our descriptions taken, height, colour of eyes, etc: all most perfunctory. Why this was done after we’d been here a year I don’t know. Wrote p.c. to Evelyn.
Our paraffin oil having given out we were reduced to a thick opisem oil in bazaar made lamps. The result is not good; one cannot now read after dinner.
Prices now charged.
Bread 5ps for 1½ lb loaf & gritty at that. Flour 20ps per oke Meat 15ps. Mutton 25ps Butter 125ps Milk 7ps Eggs 1ps each Lard 80ps the oke Chalwer 80ps Beans 5ps Wood 250 a load Cherries 12ps Prunes 20ps Pepper 100ps for ½ oke Apricots dry 25 Candles (tallow drip) 80ps oke.
1st July, 1917
Very hot day. Church at 11 a.m. Went out for a walk after tea my first for several months (3). We crossed the stream and went along the valley, quite a pretty walk for Yozgad.
Gave Pte. Brown an advance of 60ps.
The Grand Mosque in Yozgad (Yozgat)
With thanks to Tuncay Yilmazer, @gelibolu2015
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th July, 1917
No letters. Weather beautifully fine & warm. Temp 81°.
7th July, 1917
Letter from M. d/ 21st May.
=//= Ethel d/ 23rd May
=//= Aunt Helen d/ 19th May
Wrote p.c. No.39 to M.
8th July, 1917
Sunday. Service at 11 a.m. Lecture after lunch on “Broncho Busting” in the western states by Capt. Ward*.
* Probably E.S. Ward, Worcester Yeomanry
11th July, 1917
Very hot day. Wrote letter No.40 to M.
Received £3 from Holt & Co. in Turkish money 459 piastres.
12th July, 1917
Very hot. Paid Wigger 175ps: this settles with him for the time he has been with me, ie up to 6th June
Pay for May received 10 Liras less 3ps for stamped receipt.
15th July, 1917
[Sunday] Service at 11 a.m. Lecture on “Apple Growing” by Captain Burns*, W. Kent. I did not go but read it afterwards – very interesting
Paid Lethbridge 5 Liras for messing.
* Probably E.B. Burns, 2nd Royal West Kents
16th July, 1917
Two years ago today we left Amarah for Nasiriyeh.
Some of the French families left for Konia [Konya] yesterday in 3 aribas.
17th July, 1917
Mail in. 6 letters from M. d/ 24th May 1st, 3rd, 10th No. 40, 15th No. 41 & 18th June No. 42. Statement of my my a/c from Holt & Co. Post-card from Mother d/ 25th May. Post-card from Dorothy d/ 18th June and a letter from Robert Berry d/ 5th June.
18th July, 1917
5 Liras from [Dutch] Embassy. “Eliza Jane” produced 9 puppies.
19th, 20th July, 1917
“Ramesan” [sic] ends today, thank goodness.
24th July, 1917
Got 6 parcels. Containing among other things 2 suits of pyjamas, ties, tobacco, & foodstuffs, also a Book on Mullers exercises from the Goughs.
Müller’s Exercises, published in 1904
28th July, 1917
Took our lunch up to the pine woods where we had a thoroughly enjoyable day; this expedition has been talked about since last year, but today was the first time it came off. We were to have started at 11, but did not get away till 12: got back about 4 p.m.
Wrote a postcard to Dorothy – Boston House, …
2nd, 3rd August, 1917
On Friday [3rd] we took our lunch down the valley, spent an enjoyable day under some willows: got back in time for tea.
4th August, 1917
Complete[d] the 3yrs year of war today. Wind has gone round to the West, consequently it is very much warmer. We’ve had strong easterly winds all this month; one is tired of them.
Paid Lethbridge 6 Liras for messing.
Paid Brown 50ps – pay for July.
4 letters from M. …
1 =//= from Mother …
1 =//= from Ethel …
1 =//= from Oliver …
1 =//= from Owen …
1 =//= from Richardson
also 3 parcels (one missing) 1 containing thick khaki jacket, 1 containing 2 Books.
Wrote p.c. No.43 to M.
5th August, 1917
Our bread, for which we pay 6 to 8ps for a 1½ lb. loaf, is beastly; not only mouldy, but gritty, coarse and ill baked. It is not fit for consumption.
9th, 10th August, 1917
Played Auction Bridge after dinner, my 2nd effort in my life.
12th, 13th August, 1917
On Monday [13th] the orderlies gave a concert after tea, quite a good one & included an orchestra of 3 violins, a guitar & flute composed of officers. Comic & highly sentimental songs, clog dancing, and a play.
19th August, 1917
A Turkish Colonel, the same who came with the Swiss delegate, arrived this morning, and went round the various houses. Officers were allowed to interview him: Col. Chitty had along talk with him, and pointed out our various grievances. He, the Col. said that a certain number of officers might, if they liked, be transported to another place. Fourty [sic] odd took advantage of this: I put my name down for Broussa [Bursa], but do not expect to get there: nor do I think any of us will get away.
Official Photograph at Yozgad
From left to right: Colonel W. Chitty (Senior British Officer); Mulazzim Hassan Effendi; Kiazim Bey (Commandant); M. Boissier (Swiss Red Cross).
On the far right is Captain A.J. Shakeshaft of the Norfolk Regiment who frequently acted as interpreter.
20th, 21st August, 1917
Mail in Tuesday [21st]
3 letters No. 46, 48 & 49 …. from M.
… & 4 snaps of the kiddies [his twins, Francis and Cecilia].
I also received a parcel from Civil S.[Service] Stores, containing dried fruits, candles etc: the mustard tin had broken open & covered the prunes.
22nd August, 1917
Wrote letter No.46 to M. Our string band played in the Hosp[ita]l garden yesterday, after tea.
27th, 28th August, 1917
Mail in Tues [28th]: no letters. Finished “Dutch Republic” by Motley*.
* ‘The Rise of the Dutch Republic’, by John Lothrop Motley (American), published 1856
29th August, 1917
Picnic to pine wood. I did not go. The Yozgad Romance played after lunch Romeo (Pte. Harris). He is now in durance vile.
30th August, 1917
Completed our 14 months here today. Began “Conquest of Peru” by Prescot[t].
2nd September 1917
They lock our door at night now, a horrible nuisance as it means we have to use the inside “Aunt J”. With 17 in the house this is most insanitary – we have protested.
5th September, 1917
Wind east, cooler & fresher.
2 letters No.47, 52 d/ 4th & 19th July, 2 post cards No.53, 55 d/ 19th & 24th July from M. Also a photo p.c. of F.&C [Francis and Cecilia]. Very good.
Wrote letter No.47 to M.
11th September, 1917
Mail in: no letters. Stopped playing bridge after Monday. Walked up to to pine woods and back, did not stay for picnic.
16th September, 1917
Service at 11 a.m. Recd. 5 Liras Embassy money.
17th September, 1917
Rain and very cold. Parcel containing Roberts’ British Warm* [?] me today. It is a very much warmer coat than mine.
* The British Warm overcoat retained the epaulettes and double-breasted closure of the traditional officers Greatcoat, but was a shorter alternative. The knee-length, high-peaked, double-breasted style was thus more suitable for trench-warfare. Its name referred to the dense, thermal cloth it was made from: fleecy, taupe-coloured Melton wool created by Crombie. It was not uncommon for soldiers to resort to sleeping in their British Warms to guard themselves from the sometimes perilous elements; indeed, it was advertised as the “life-saving coat”. http://www.crombie.co.uk/crombie-chronicle/churchill-the-british-warm
When Winston Churchill braved the Crimean winter (and post-war negotiations) at the 1945 Yalta Conference he chose a suitably thick British Warm overcoat. He is depicted wearing British Warm in his statue in Parliament Square.
Winston Churchill in a ‘British Warm’ overcoat
18th September, 1917
Bright but cold. The temperature has changed very rapidly during the past 2 days from 84° it suddenly dropped to 54°.
19th September, 1917
Mail came in last night.
A letter No.62 d/ 11th August from. … Wrote letter No.49 to M.
1st, 2nd, 3rd October, 1917
No letters. Went for a walk Tues. 2nd, the first I’ve done since 1st July. Very cold East wind. I have not eaten any bread for 4 days, it is full of grit and dirty, although we pay 10ps per 1½ lb loaf. Recd 523ps which I left with the Cmdt. This came on 23rd Augt.
Paid Brown 60ps on 2nd Oct.
Wrote letter No 56 to M.
4th, 5th, 6th October, 1917
No letters. Wrote to Mother. Theatricals “Two’s Two”.
7th October, 1917
Went for a walk down the valley.
14th, 15th, 16th October, 1917
No letters on Tues. Heard we are to leave here for Kara Hissar at 8 a.m. Friday morning. Warm day.
19th October, 1917
Left Yozgad in 19 carts (24 of us and servants) at 10.30 a.m. and reached our camp at 5.30 p.m. Slept outside a mosque.
20th October, 1917
Started 9.30 and arrived 2nd Camp, about 1 mile west of serai, wagons formed laager and we slept in the open.
21st October, 1917
3rd Camp, near a village with 2 streams, cold wind blowing.
22nd October, 1917
Reached Mardin [Keskin] 5.30 p.m. after a long weary trek, up interminable valleys. Put up in a dirty caravanserai: Lethbridge and S[elf] & Courbould Warren* slept in verandar [sic].
* Major E. Courbould-Warren, Royal Field Artillery
23rd October, 1917
Stayed the day here.
24th October, 1917
Left at 10 a.m. Took another road to the one we came by 14 months ago. This led into the Kaiserie [Kayseri] road. Horrid dusty day, with cold headwind and rainy clouds. Pegged down under a knoll, the village had no accommodation. Some rain during the night, bedding wet.
25th October, 1917
Struck camp 9.45. Crossed a stone bridge with 12 irregular arches over river. Long uphill journey. We did over 20 miles, of which I walked 18. Camped near a small village, exactly like one would see in Ireland.
26th October, 1917
Downhill trek, going good. Passed a convoy going E. at a serai. Reached Camp just beyond a village. From there we looked over a wide valley with a large lake* in the distance.
* Probably either Lake Mogan (Mogan Gölü) or Lake Eymir (Eymir Gölü), just south of Ankara near the town of Gölbaşı
27th October, 1917
Passed lake and lunched at a khan about 3 hours after starting. Then a very stiff climb. When we reached the top we could see Angora [Ankara] about 6 miles off. Along wait for our wagons. Hot day. Reached the town about 5.30 p.m. Put up at a kind of hotel, very smelly. Slept in garden. Had our meals at the Officers Club, the old recreation pavilion of ancient memory.
28th October, 1917
Stayed the day – shopped in bazaar. P.C. To Mother.
29th October, 1917
Went down to station about 7.45, entrained, slept in train.
30th October, 1917
Left Angora 9.30 a.m. Got to Eski-Cheir [Eskisehir] about 10 p.m., slept in train.
31st October, 1917
Taken out to dejeuner at a restaurant, fair meal. Tea at same place. Missed our train. No kit or coat. Caught another, all of us lumped into a baggage wagon. Horribly cold night. Passed our carriage with kit, foods, etc., which had been dropped 2 stations up. They had stupidly hooked it on to a down train, so we had to complete rest of journey in wagon. Our escort a tight as lords.
1st November, 1917
Arrived Kara Hissar [Afyonkarahisar] about 2.30 a.m. had a meal and slept on platform. Awakened by Comdt. and had to pack up and go to our billets which are in the town. Arrived there about 6 a.m.
A German postcard of the time
‘Gruss aus Afioun-Karahissar’ , which, somewhat ironically for the British, Indians, and Australians held in captivity there, translates as ‘Greetings from Afion Kara-Hisssar’
2nd November, 1917
Paid out after breakfast 10 Liras. Lethbridge and I moved into a small house 3 doors down – here I have a tiny room to myself.
3rd November, 1917
Walked to football ground after lunch – a good full sized one.
4th November, 1917
Wrote letter 54 to M. … Wet night, rain came through the roof. Tea with Father Mullen
5th November, 1917
Began French lessons under Comdr. Fabre R.N.
6th November, 1917
My bed arrived, but could not use it as I have to buy rope.
7th November, 1917
Bought rope for fob 150ps and rotten stuff at that. When complete, bed very comfy.
8th November, 1917
Lunched with Footner,* Hants Regt. P.C. D/5th Sept from M. 69 Letter from Mother d/ 30 Augt & Ethel d/ 23rd Augt.
*F. L. Footner, 4th Hampshire Regiment.
9th, 10th November, 1917
Walked to football ground after lunch. Have now a lamp for my room. Theatrical performance at 8.30 p.m., “The Magic Stone” written by Kingsmill Cooke* S&T [Supply and Transport]. Quite good.
* Captain Walter Kingsmill Cook, 116th Mahrattas. Born in India in 1883, the son of a Surgeon-General of the Indian Medical Service.
Cover of the Programme for ‘A Magic Stone’
Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum
The Programme for ‘A Magic Stone’
Performed at Afion Kara Hissar, 10 November, 1917
Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum
13th November, 1917
Mail in 4 letters from M. …
Bought 10 tallow dips for 10ps & lamp for 45ps.
19th November, 1917
Took to pieces a large bin for wood. A month today since we left Yozgad.
20th November, 1917
Dull, with some rain. It poured during the night & I had to move my bed twice.
21st November, 1917
Cold & raw. Got my 2nd supply of oil. Had tea with Col. Wilson, his birthday. The [?] came and bagged our wood, this stops repairs to our house.
24th November, 1917
Misty, cold & raw. Bought 2 pieces of indifferent soap for 26ps.
25th November, 1917
Misty & bitterly cold. Bought some white wash 22½ ps. Suffering from stiff neck.
26th November, 1917
Fine & bright.. Began to white wash lower room. Wrote p.c. 57 to M.
29th November, 1917
My birthday. Jordan came to lunch, and Wilson & Father Mullen to tea.
30th November, 1917
Started making my chair. One was also sent up to me from lower camp.
1st December, 1917
Fine & bright: a white frost this morning. Went down to see a game of Rugby, quite a good match in spite of the fact that many had not played before. It was hot in the sun, and even sitting and looking on it was pleasantly warm. Our street gets practically no sun and is as cold as a tomb. Snow on “Sultan Beg” mountain. Our house is gradually becoming more habitable: the top story [sic] is now closed in with bricks and mud. We also have a store in our feeding room.
2nd December, 1917
White frost this morning. Payed out today 10 Liras. Wrote letter 58 to M. p.c. to Ethel.
3rd December, 1917
A splendid mail. Letters & pcs from M. [9 in total dated between 24 July and 14 October]
5 Liras to Hendley for messing.
4th December, 1917
Wet. Bought a table – 4 bottles of oil, a lamp & spare globe from one of the French officers for 205ps. I also bought ½ oke of indifferent tobacco in the bazaar for 150ps.
5th December, 1917
Ground covered with snow this morning, very cold. About 70 officers from Kangri*, late of Kastamuni, arrived here en route to a new camp at Gadiz**. I met several old Kut friends: Col. Browne 103rd [?] [presumed to be Lt. Col. Walter Brown commanding 103rd Mahratta Light Infantry], Punch and others. C. Roberts & Floyd remained behind, they are quite fit.
* Kangri (Çankırı), approximately mid-way between Ankara and the internment centre at Kastamuni (Kastamonu). ** Gedis (Gediz), a newly established centre about 60 miles north-west of Afion.
16th December, 1917
Since the 5th we’ve had a very severe bout of arctic weather. At 8 a.m. the thermometer registered 24° and 25° of frost, and that has been about the average until today, when it is decidedly warmer though still freezing. Col. Wilson and Julius came to our house to live about a week ago, so we all mess together. I have vacated my nice room, and now share a very cold one, facing north, with Julius. Every morning my sponge, water bottle, towel etc are frozen hard – even my chitta hazri [chota hazri], or rather the remains, were frozen ten minutes after I had drunk it. I go to bed with my undergarments on even then not warm. My hot water bottle which I had kicked out about 3 a.m. was a block of ice in the morning. Fire wood is a serious matter, we cannot get any at present, and our supply is rapidly going. We’ve enough to last until the end of the year. Two parties (18) of the Kangri lot have left for Gediz, others go in periods of 4 days interval.
P.C. No. 59 to M.
17th December, 1917
Had a stove in our room for the first time. Still thawing.
Letter 60 to M. Four line letter to Evelyn.
18th December, 1917
5 Liras from [Dutch] Embassy.
23rd December, 1917
Still freezing: there is also a mist which makes it feel much colder. Wrote a cheque on Holt & Co. for 10£ on or about the 21st. Walking in our street very difficult owing to ice. One cannot get warm. Our fire wood is nearly exhausted: we’ve enough to last till about Xmas Day – after that goodness knows what will happen.
Wrote letter to Helen Talbot c/o M. at “Dysart”
=//= W. Morgan 54 Thorpe Road Norwich
=//= Margaret 61
24th December, 1917
Fine and bright. A batch of Embassy clothing has arrived. 5 Liras Embassy.
25th December, 1917
Xmas Day – misty – Pay 10 Liras for Dec.
26th December, 1917
I issued Embassy clothing in bulk to the various houses. It consisted of of suits, blankets, boots, vests, pants, shirts, dubbin. I took a pair of boots. The shirts were very poor, hardly reaching one’s waist. Rifki Bey [who] often came in charge of the Embassy clothing, came to tea. He is a nice fellow and ready to help as far as he is able. I gave him my home address, ie Talbot Sqr.
27th December, 1917
A good thaw has set in thank goodness. My money from Yozgad arrived 50 liras. I paid Lethbridge what I owed him 7 liras. …
28th December, 1917
A good thaw still going on; it is bright and almost mild. Went to see the pantomime this evening, all lyrics, music etc by p.of w. It was really A.1. & considering what materials they had to work with, & a tiny stage, a fine effort.
29th, 30th December, 1917
Still thawing; walking in our street very unpleasant. I went for a walk, the old one, after lunch: it was very slushy.
31st December, 1917
Still dull, with a thick mist hanging about, this makes it so depressing.
Wrote letter 62 to M., one to Mother & another to Mr. Byams.
N.B. The officers of the 2nd Norfolks imprisoned at Yozgad were: Lt. Col. F.C. Lodge, Capt. A.J. Shakeshaft, Lt. T. Campbell, Lt. H.L. Peacocke, Lt. J.F.W. Read. (Ranks are those held at the time of capture.)
We are very grateful to our Mesopotamian researcher for his painstaking work on making these diaries available.