Captivity in Turkey: from the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Cecil Lodge Part 2: January-December 1917

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’.

* The Parson Woodforde Society:

Margaret and Francis Cecil Lodge about 1915

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 itIn 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

Wedding Day.

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

            1 Rug.

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.

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.

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

No letters

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!

Mail in.

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.

Mail in.

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”.

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.

Finding the Fallen: The Battle of Gaza exhibition panels tour the county

Following on from The Forum’s Battle of Gaza exhibition in April, there are more chances to view the pop-up exhibition panels as they start their tour of the county – find out more about the exhibition and where to see it below.

The Battle of Gaza touring exhibition marks the centenary of the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917, in which hundreds of men serving in the Norfolk Regiment fought. It tells the story of how the Territorial Force soldiers were recruited and of their journey from Gallipoli to Gaza. It also demonstrates how the campaign in the Middle East impacted on the Norfolk Regiment.

Officers Mess, 1/5th Battalion, The Norfolk Regiment (Territorial Force) Palestine, 1917. Image courtesy of the Purdy Archive.

Hundreds of men from the Norfolk Territorials fought and lost their lives at the Second Battle of Gaza and although many of them are buried in fields abroad, their names appear on many Norfolk town and village war memorials.

As part of the project, students from Sheringham Woodfields, St Michael’s Church of England Academy-King’s Lynn and the Belfry CEVA Primary School in Overstrand worked with the Project Historian Neil Storey to research soldiers from their school’s locality. The students’ work created in response to the project will be on display in some of the participating venues. Also included will be a  Roll of Honour for the 367 men of the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions, the Norfolk Regiment who lost their lives in Gaza on 19 April 1917.

The Battle of Gaza exhibition is currently on display at The Belfry Centre for Music & Arts, Overstrand where it can be viewed until Monday 5th June. The centre is open between 10am-4pm Monday-Friday and between 10am-1pm on Saturdays.

In addition to the touring exhibition panels, visitors to The Belfry Centre for Music & Arts, will also be able to view two exhibition films, participate in a postcard writing activity and see the work of students from Sheringham and Overstrand.

A writing station created in response to Rupert Brooke’s poem ‘The Great Lover’ and work from KS2 students at The Belfry CEVA Primary School on display in Overstrand

The Battle of Gaza touring exhibition panels can be viewed at the following venues:

The Belfry Centre for Music and Arts

Tuesday 16 May-Monday 05 June 2017

Cromer Library

Wednesday 07 June-Thursday 22 June 2017

Sheringham Library

Saturday 24 June-Thursday 06 July 2017

King’s Lynn Library

Saturday 08 July-Thursday 27 July 2017

King’s Lynn Roman Catholic Church

Saturday 29 July-Thursday 10 August

Stories of Lynn, King’s Lynn Town Hall

Saturday 12 August-Tuesday 29 August

As part of the Finding the Fallen: The Battle of Gaza tour, visitors will also be able to participate in a number of free, drop-in activities with the project historian Neil Storey. Further details below.

The Battle of Gaza: Hands on History Events

Meet Military Historian Neil Storey and handle WWI objects and uniforms. Explore the stories and experiences of Norfolk soldiers fighting a very distant war.

These sessions are suitable for all ages and no booking is required

Tuesday 20 June | Cromer Library | 1pm-4pm

Thursday 29 June | Sheringham Library | 10am-1pm

Tuesday 25 July | King’s Lynn Library | 2.30-4.30pm * This sessions follows on from a lunchtime talk on the Battle of Gaza, 1-2pm

The Forum team also let us know that:

Finding the Fallen: The Battle of Gaza forms part of The Forum’s three year project ‘Norfolk in the First World War: Somme to Armistice’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project remembers the men who fought and lost their lives in battle and the women who were either on active service or remaining strong on the Norfolk home-front.  

The Norfolk in the First World War touring exhibitions are available for schools, community groups and venues to hire free of charge. Those interested in hiring the first two exhibitions on the Battle of the Somme or The Battle of Gaza are invited to get in touch with Lizzie Figura-Drane, The Forum’s Heritage Assistant on

The Norfolk Regiment in Mesopotamia

After a break of a few months for reading new sources our Mesopotamian correspondent is back with details of the Norfolk Regiment during their time in Turkish captivity.

Captivity in Turkey: from the diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Cecil Lodge

Part 1: to 31st December, 1916

This is a continuation of the posting of 16 November, 2016, which was an account of the march into captivity following the surrender of the British garrison of Kut al Amara.

Colonel Lodge was unsurprisingly concerned to receive letters from home, especially from his beloved wife, Margaret; many of his entries in this regard are repetitious, so only a selection have been included here.

Appreciation, as ever, goes to the Curator of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum.

The Notebook kept by F.C. Lodge during his captivity at Yozgad
Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum

After arriving at Yozgad (Yozgat), Lt. Col. Lodge describes their accommodation:

30th June, 1916

…It [the countryside] is well wooded with fruit trees and poplars. Water is plentiful, evidently from springs. We are housed in 2 large houses, apparently lately owned by Armenians. They are quite clean, but like all Turkish houses the sanitary arrangements were quite inadequate. The F.O.’s in one house, the Captains and Subalterns in the larger of the two. Our party totalled 20 officers and 6 orderlies. This number was increased very soon after by the arrival of the Worcester Yeomanry & Col: Chitty, the former captured on the Suez Canal; their C.O. was Col: Coventry. Our total was now 35 including orderlies.

Two tables were laid with crockery knives etc: so we hope to get a meal shortly. At 12 we sat down to a very fair meal soup maigre, mutton, and an enormous plateful of a kind of greasy spagetti [sic], topped up with some unripe cherries; however not having had a square meal for many days we did full justice. We found that all our party had to feed in the same room, so when we finished the others took their turn. It was a bit crowded and the seats not of the best. The feeding is run by a contractor who we eventually found to be a high class rotter. The waiters are crude, 2 men and 2 ammunition boys, all beastly dirty, the men smoke all the time & there is a good deal of  kockey tooing. To bed early. The same party as occupied our ariba share a small room. We have been provided with a kind of wool mattress, a quilt, pillow & one sheet. A great relief to be settled at last, no more turning out before dawn with no meal for certain, for some time to come. Slept well.

1st July, 1916

Breakfast 8.30. Eggs, bread & butter & a glass of milk. Col. L. & Col. Wilson both have fever and stayed in bed. No one is allowed outside the house. I hope these precautions will soon be relaxed. Our house stands on the small stream at the bottom of the valley, there are houses all around us, but the larger part of the town lies to the north, and above us.

2nd July, 1916

Nice cool morning. Not allowed out for exercise yet. There is a small yard about 20 x 5 yards, roughly paved and quite unseen from the road, owing to a high wall. This was our only means of exercise for about 3 weeks. There is a small garden running to a point where one could get a walk of 60 paces round it, but we were not allowed to use it for 3 weeks. Weather lovely, which makes the want of exercise all the more.

3rd July, 1916

Meals are falling off in quality and quantity.

4th July, 1916

More trouble with contractor about food; price exhorbitant for what we get. Commandant not inclined to assist us; so far we have not seen the gentleman. Our custodians consist of several old greybeards (prison warders I believe) with no intelligence and inclined to treat us as convicts. They practically run the show, as so far we have seen no official. Later a subaltern arrived, but he had no initiative: also a very young interpreter.

5th July, 1916

Owing to yesterday’s bickerings over food etc. with contractor. There was no breakfast this morning. The Comdt. at last put in an appearance; more talk. He, the Comdt., cannot speak any language but his own, so we have to trust the very doubtful interpretation by the young man above mentioned, which was afterwards, I’m sure, the cause of a good deal of our troubles. …

6th July, 1916

Very hot day – Still not allowed out.

7th July, 2016

We have been here a week today. Not allowed to write yet and no news of any letters for us, though there must be a great many due. They take no notice of our repeated request to be allowed to write – a great shame.

9th July, 2016

Our daily meals consists of 2 eggs, ½ pint milk, a small roll of bread which has to last for two meals – reminds me of Kut days – lunch & dinner a fid* of mutton or goat, a piece of lettuce, sometimes a raw cucumber. Butter which ought to be good and plentiful is generally rancid, and quite unfit to eat, for which they charge at the rate of 2/6 per pound. For ½ oke** of sugar 50ps [piastres]: i.e. 9/2 for 1¼ lbs. Coffee the same. Eggs can be bought 10 for 2d but the contractor only gives us 4.

* a small thick piece or wedge

** in Turkey, Egypt, and other countries of the Near East, a unit of weight roughly equal to about 2¾ lbs (1.3 kg)

10th  July, 2016

Allowed in the garden for the first time. Not much room for walking as it is full of beds of drying vegetables and too many fruit trees. The latter the sentries strip though the fruit is mostly unripe. I hope they will suffer for it. As lamps are few and indifferent, and the allowance of oil very meagre, we go to bed soon after dinner which is at 7.30 pm.

No letters, books, papers to help while away the days, and we the “honoured guests of Turkey”.

11th July, 1916

Bought some honey in the court [?], very dirty and full of bees and flies at 60 ps the oke – an 0ke = 2½ lbs about. Some letters were handed us just as we had gone to bed. Thank goodness news at last.

Post cards 3 & 1 letter of 4 lines from M. [Margaret, his wife] First news from M since the 21st Nov: 1915

Post card 1 from Ethel, 1 from Evelyn

M’s were d[ated] 3rd, 7th, 14th & 24th May. Ethel’s 21st Evelyn’s 20th

16th July, 1916

A batch of prisoners arrived here today: they were the Worcester Yeomanry captured near the Suez Canal, Colonel Coventry was their senior officer. Col: Chitty, Shakeshaft & Baines I.M.S.* all of the Kut Garrison also came with this party. They brought us news that our men were having a bad time marching up; I’m afraid many will not be strong enough to come through.

* Indian Medical Service

19th July, 1916

Mail in: 3 post cards & a four line letter from Margaret.

20th July, 1916

At least we got out for a walk. A party of about 30 of us went through the bazaar, with a guard of 6 and 2 officers, to some open ground to the north of the town; we remained out for about 2 hours. It was a great boon to get some fresh air and a change of scene having been couped [sic] up so long.

21st July, 1916

The second party went out for their walk at 5 pm. For the last 2 or 3 nights we have had to go to bed in the dark, most annoying when we are charged for lamps and oil. We have now bought a tin of oil for 2 liras so we shall be able to undress in comfort.

23rd July, 1916

Went to early service in the upper house at 7.30; this was the first opportunity since Kut. The Padre (Wilcox) came with the Yeomanry.

24th July, 1916

Anniversary of the battle of Nasiryeh. …

25th July, 1916

No mails for us. A letter from Red Crescent asking us to put place of detention on our cards or letters.

28th July, 1916

No walk today as we have been naughty. We refused to sign some impossible rules made out by the Cmdt.

29th July, 1916

No breakfast this morning: a row apparently between the Cmdt. and the contractor. As we were unprepared for this, only had an egg and chupatti which lasted till dinner when matters righted themselves. Then only goat and rice graces the board. 2 letters and 2 pc from M. PC from Mother and Ethel. It was the parents Golden Wedding Day on 5th July, wish I could have been home for it.

30th July, 1916

Service at 10.30.

31st July, 1916

Meals getting worse. For lunch we had some cut up goat, raw cucumber & dried figs, all pretty beastly. 3/- per day.

1st August, 1916

Mail in 2 letters & 3 pc’s from M. … Still not allowed out. The gist of the rules was that we were to make ourselves entirely responsible for feeding, clothing ourselves and orderlies – purchase of stores, wood etc. for the winter, with no assistance from Cmdt. & no pay. His was practically impossible.

2nd August, 1916

Another day with no breakfast, why goodness knows, the contractor has struck! Got a meal at 6 pm. Of sorts!! They allowed an officer to go out into the bazaar to buy us food. The revelation as regards prices was rather astonishing, we have been grossly overcharged. We cannot carry on much longer; we’ve had no pay since Baghdad & funds are getting low – many have to borrow from those more fortunate. We are already in arrears for pay*.

* Officer prisoners were not required to work and were paid by their captors. In his notebook FCL listed the payments received whilst a prisoner of war.

F.C. Lodge’s record of pay received from the Turks whilst a prisoner of war

NB Lodge lists his pay in liras, piastres and paras. The lira was the basic unit of Ottoman currency at the time of the First World War. The lira was divided into 100 piastres (kuruş). There were 40 paras to the piastre. Hence, the pay he received on 15th April, 1917 was 15 liras, 35 piastres and 28 paras.

A 20 piastre banknote from 1917

3rd August, 1916

An egg and dry bread for breakfast. Dry bread for lunch, and a meat stew at 3.45. The prices for food bought by ourselves today were: Meat 5ps:[per] oke ie 2¾ lbs. Honey 25ps per oke, we had been charged 60 or 40 for same amount. Vegetables quite cheap 20ps: bought enough beans and marrows for 125 of us: we had been charged 1½ ps per head hitherto. Our guards do practically what they like. They are allowed to push officers about, no redress from Cmdt. Today I was walking in our alley when a sentry called & signalled me to go in; I at once complied, but before I got to the door he smiled and made me understand that I could continue walking – simply, I suppose, to show some onlookers his authority.

Posted a p.c. to M. today.

4th August, 1916

Two years today since the war began. Some wheat porridge and honey for breakfast this morning. The lane is now open from 2 till 5 pm. Not a wildly exciting form of exercise. It runs about 60 paces between 2 walls and is about 3½ yards wide, with a dirty drain of evil smelling water on one side. One end of the lane leads on to the road, the other end looks over some cabbage gardens. After dinner we had a meeting to discuss the present require[ment] of running our own feeding arrangements. The figures showed that we could manage to carry on for 21 days, when, if no money arrives, we are up a gum tree.

5th August, 1916

Food is a great topic of conversation, which is hardly to be wondered at considering the hand to mouth existence we are leading. As our tea is running short we only take it at chota-hazri* and tea time. …

*from British India: a light meal taken early in the morning.

6th August, 1916

Church at 10 am. Our house is hard at work making tables and chairs as since the contractor has been sacked we’ve had none of these [?]. The wood we obtain from empty Regi-cigarette packing cases. …

8th August, 1916

Each of us received 3 liras from the American Ambassador*, Stamboul. It came in the nick of time, being urgently needed. I was reduced to about ½ lira at the time.

* Abram Isaac Elkus was United States Ambassador to Turkey from 1916 until the USA declared war on Turkey in April 1917. He replaced Henry Morgenthau Sr. who resigned in January 1916 over the issue of the deportation of Armenians from Anatolia. The U.S. ambassadors did all they could to care for British prisoners of war in Turkey.

U.S. Ambassadors to Constantinople: Henry Morgenthau Sr. and Abram Elkus
public domain images

9th August, 1916

Much cooler today, an easterly wind blowing. No news of outside world. Up till now they have been translating the Turkish war telegrams to us, this has been stopped, no great loss as they are well padded before being sent here; still one could read between the lines & so gather a little information.

27th August, 1916

Service at 10.30. parcel mail. 2 for me. Fortnum & Mason & 2 tins of Capstan Tobbacco [sic] all most acceptable. These parcels had taken 3½ months in their journey.

31st August, 1916

Colonel Lethbridge and I began shorthand lessons under Mason today.

1st September, 1916

Rumour says that Roumania has sided with us.

6th September, 1916

Received a parcel of 3 books today, they would not let me have them until they had been censored.

6th September, 1916

A Red Letter Day. They actually gave us pay for one month. We went up in batches of 10. It was a very tedious job as they took so long over it. I eventually got Liras 10 from this was deducted 175ps for bedding & 425¼ ps which was half the contractor’s bill also 3ps for stamped receipt. I only got 3 Liras 50ps. The balance of 46¾ ps was paid into Gilchrist’s account a[nd] remains there to my credit.

11th September, 1916

A large consignment of clothes were distributed, these came through the American Embassy. My share was a very thin holland suit, pyjamas suitable for a boy of 14, 1 flannel and 2 cotton shirts of very poor material, 3 towels, 2 vests & 2 drawers all on the small side & highly coloured, 3 hanks, 1pr braces, slippers, pipe, reel of cotton, a pair of hair clippers & 1 bag.

They gave me 2 of my books today, a great joy, as it was the first reading matter I’ve had for 9 months. Rain yesterday, the first we’ve had since our arrival.

24th September, 1916

A heavy thunderstorm after lunch with lots of rain. Our small stream was soon a raging torrent, a good thing to, as it will wash away the filth thrown on to the banks.

27th September, 1916

…Anniversary first day of battle at ESSINN. Wrote 5 lines to M. Went for a good walk up the KAISERIE road – my first walk for a month.

2nd October, 1917

Caught a chill which has settled on my chest, feel rotten.

3rd October, 1917

Better today. Paid Lethbridge 75 ps this squares us up to date. Paid Wigger* 50ps.

*Private Wigger was Lodge’s orderly

6th October, 1917

A bright day – wore my mufti suit and felt the benefit of it. Put in some good work at a wood fatigue, we are putting in a stock for winter. We have to pay ready cash for this and as our funds are low we cannot, at present, buy much. This is a great nuisance as the price of wood goes up a good deal later on. We are now 3 months in arrears for pay.

8th October, 1917

Jolly cold – we’d give anything to have fires, but have no stoves nor the money to buy.

22nd October, 1917

H.C. after morning service. Three letters for me all in French 2 from M d/ 8th & 15th June & one from Ethel d/ 10th June. …

25th October, 1917

Post Card from Mother d/ 27th Sept saying she had sent a parcel. 2 p.c.’s from Ethel telling me I had been gazetted Lt. Colonel 15th Sept 1915*.  All news good. My p.c. To K.K. re investments reached him.

* From the Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September, 1916 – Norf. R.—Maj. F. C. Lodge, D.S.O., to be temp. Lt.-Col., whilst in comd. of a Bn. 13th Sept. 1915.

28th October, 1916

Liras 3 from American Embassy. p.c. from de Grey, asking me to nominate a new adjutant.

1st November, 1916

2 letters from M one d/ 19th July the other 2 Oct, the former written in French as they come more rapidly? She still only writes 4 lines – I got a 2 page letter from Ethel & one from Evelyn

2nd November, 1916

Letter to Mother and p.c. To de Grey, nominating Floyd as his successor.

3rd November, 1916

A new contractor has taken over our feeding arrangements. It seems a pity to change as our bazaar parties consisting of one officer and 4 or 5 servants were working so well.

4th November, 1916

Comdt. Came round for the first time for many months.

6th November, 1916

White frost this morning. Got a reach me down suit, vest & drawers, very scratchy, gave them to Wigger. Cap & shirt. In the suit, I feel & look like a 3 Class engineer of [or?] a tramp in his best.

7th November, 1916

Four delightful photos of the kiddies – in one of which M figures. They were taken when the children were 2 years old. The last photo I had was taken on the 24th Sept 1915, sitting on their grandfather’s shoulder, 13½ months ago.

14th November, 1916

PAY DAY. Received our very much overdue pay this afternoon. For 3 months, we are still 1 month in arear. I drew Liras 25 for July, Augt & Sept: with the following deductions Ali’s bill 425¼ ps Rent 12, 9, 9 for house & 9ps for receipt stamps.

15th November, 1916

Posted letter No 4 to M.

Paid Wigger 1 Lira for Sept & Oct:

Posted a card to Evelyn

17th November, 1916

A Turkish sanitary official came and inspected our houses to day with what result I do not know.

18th November, 1916

Colonel Coventry still very ill – Baines up with him all last night. There is no doubt that he is suffering from Typhus. There is no room in which sick officers or men can be isolated. Col. C’s room leads into our dining room.

19th November, 1916

Wretched mail, only an ancient p.c. from Jones-Bateman asking me to nominate a successor to de Grey. J.B. Is evidently commanding the remnants of 2 Bn. In India.

20th November, 1916

Nice warm day. Seven of us moved into a new house further up the street, opposite the Comdt office. It is a nice, nearly new, clean house. Our party consisted of Col Chitty, Col. Wilson C.B., R.E. [Royal Engineers], Col. Lethbridge C.M.G., D.S.O., Self, Julius, Thomes Yeomanry & Burn West Kent. I share a good room, much bigger than our old one, with Col.Lethbridge, it faces S., has one side all cupboards. We ought to be most comfortable. A good upstairs dining room and an excellent room for our stores. We have some difficulty in getting down to the old house for exercise as the sentries are rather stupid, this I hope will be righted in time – we’ve no place for exercise in this house.

21st November, 1916

… Captain Bignell died last night, I had no idea he was so seriously ill – bronchitis & acute diarohea [sic]. He died of heart failure. As mentioned before there is no accommodation for sick, hardly any medical comforts.

We buried him this afternoon at 5 p.m.. All of us attended, as did a Turkish guard, the uzbashi was also present. We got a cart for the coffin which was an old framework, used by the Greek church, who carry their dead in this tawdry affair & bury in a shroud, using the box for others. We bought the thing outright for which they had the nerve to charge 10 Liras, 4 for the cart & 4 for a very shallow grave: all most iniquitous charges. B was buried in the Armenian cemetery, a bit of open ground apart from the Mohamedan [sic].

22nd November, 1916

Anniversary of the battle of CTESIPHON. … Wrote letter No. 5 to M.

23rd November, 1916

Tea is now 400 ps per oke ie £3/13/4 for 2½ lb*. And very poor stuff at that.

*In England, in 1914, tea retailed at 2d. per ¼ lb, although prices increased during the war. Hence,  2½ lb would have cost about 1s/8d (about 8p)

29th November, 1916

My birthday and anniversary of my arrival in KUT. Got 3 parcels, 2 from Fortnum & Mason No. 6838 & 7635, the former broken open. Also a waterproof bag containing undergarments & medicines & a splendid cardigan. Am well set up now.

30th November, 1916

Posted card No. 6 to M. Received Liras 3 from American Embassy.

1st December 1916

Frosty & bright. The interpreter came in at dinner and told us we might write a long letter this mail. Wrote letter No. 7 to M. & one to Mother. Went for a walk after tea, the first time for nearly 2 months.

3rd December, 1916

The 6th Divn. entered Kut a year ago from the North [the retreat from Ctesiphon].

6th December, 1916

Got a packet of snapshots of the kiddies, taken in Scotland. All excellent – no letters.

11th December, 1916

We had a visit to day about lunch time, from two members of the Swiss Red Cross. They were accompanied by a Turkish colonel & 2 other junior Turkish officers. The party went round all the houses, asked us how we had been treated, & whether we were comfortable. Col. Chitty & Harward handed statements as to our treatment both here and in ANGORA. One of the delegates took a photo of the 4 of us. I asked him to send a copy, if successful, to Margaret: he said he would in any case he promised to write to her. They all returned to tea about 6.45 p.m. including the Cmdt., this taxed out limited resources a good deal. They leave tomorrow to visit some Russian prisoners.

The Swiss Red Cross delegate’s photograph in the courtyard of the house in Yozgad Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum From left to right as viewed: Major Julius (Royal Sussex Regiment); Lt. Col. F.C. Lodge (Norfolk Regiment); Lt. Col. Wilson (Royal Engineers); Captain Burn (Royal West Kent Regiment)


The visiting card of one of the Swiss Red Cross delegates
Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum

12th December, 1916

Lovely frosty day. Went for a splendid walk up to the pine woods, in the hills to the S. of us: it reminded me of the country around Aldershot, only more hilly.

Mail in

Two letters d/26 Oct & 1st Nov: from M. …

25th December, 1916

Christmas Day. Service and H.C. At 11.30. Sandes played his violin at the service. Singing very hearty. Mince pies, home made, for lunch. Turkey, plum pudding, also home made, for dinner. A concert in lower house at 9pm. I did not go. Pleasanter Xmas than last year [besieged at Kut].

26th December, 1916

Wind in the East, beastly cold.

29th December, 1916

Snow during the night, ground covered this morning – still snowing, no chance of getting out.

30th December, 1916

We have been here 6 months today. Fine bright morning, nice dry cold, walking slippery.

31st December, 1916

New Year Eve. Did not go out all day. Mail came in about tea-time one ariba: they say there are some parcels, no private ones all from [American] Embassy. They gave us our letters after dinner. Post card from Mother d/ 29th Nov:

Two letters d/ 23rd Aug (in French) & 30th Nov from M. In the letter she had obituary notices of me from India. I cannot think how people can be so careless.

Letter from T.A. Chalmers – Jorhat, Assam, India – he was the owner of the “Ariel” of Mesopotamian fame, and had been very kind to me at Lujj after I was wounded, giving me meals on board his boat when food was had to come by.

There aren’t any accessible accounts from the Norfolk Regiment of the tribulations of the ‘other ranks’ in captivity, which were markedly more difficult than the experiences, however trying, of Lt. Col. Lodge and some other officers.

‘The Other Ranks of Kut’ by Sergeant P.W. Long, MM, tells another story. The book is available in paperback and is written in a straightforward and very readable style. It tells something of the manner in which many men worked, died – and survived Turkish captivity.