Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A third dose of pneumonia

It is just ten days since the P.M. landed at Northholt with a temperature of 103; for some days after that he was chesty, and the X-rays revealed a shadow at the base of the lung, a third dose, though a very mild one, of pneumonia. There had been some doubt whether he would be fit to set off on another trip so soon. I decided at the last moment to ask Lionel Whitby and a nurse to come with us. Winston has got it into his head that a pathologist is an essential part of the team to deal with an attack of pneumonia, and I thought it would comfort him to have one on board.’ This is from the so-called diary of Charles McMoran Wilson who died 40 years ago today. He was Winston Churchill’s personal doctor through the Second World War, often travelling with him on trips abroad. Soon after Churchill’s death, Moran published his diary extracts concerning the great leader, but it caused huge controversy, not only because its revelations were considered to be in breach of many confidences and ethical considerations, but because the ‘diary’ was little more than a construction written in retrospect.

Wilson was born in 1882, in Skipton, Yorkshire, the third child of a doctor and his wife. He was schooled at Pocklington Grammar School; and he studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School 
(now Imperial), London. While training as a registrar, he took 18 months out to travel in Egypt and Italy, but he returned to complete his studies. He won the gold medal in the London MD exams in 1913, and the same year achieved membership of the Royal College of Physicians. During the First World War, he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, becoming medical officer to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers from 1914 to 1917. He was then in charge of medical facilities at the British hospital in Boulogne from 1917 to 1918. He won the Military Cross in the battle of the Somme (1916) and the Italian silver medal for valour (1917), and was twice mentioned in dispatches.

After the war, Wilson was appointed as physician to outpatients at St Mary’s. In July 1919, he married Dorothy Dufton, and they had two sons. From 1920 to 1945, he served as Dean of St Mary’s, but also maintained a private Harley Street practice. He studied the effects of war on the resilience of soldiers publishing a series of lectures - The Mind in War - in the 1930s. He was knighted in 1938 and became Baron Moran in 1943, thereafter making many speeches in Parliament on the NHS. He was also a member of the Spens Committee, which devised the merit awards system for consultants. In 1941, he was elected president of the Royal College of Physicians every year until he stepped down in 1950.

Most famously, Wilson was Winston Churchill’s private doctor, from two weeks after he had become Prime Minister, accompanying him on most of his travels through the war, and recommending specialist medical help whenever needed. After the war, and until 1961, he chaired the government standing committee which determined which consultants should receive increments in their salaries. He died on 12 April 1977. Further information can be found at Wikipedia, the Royal College of Physicians, or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (although log-in required).

Moran was not a committed diarist, though he did keep notebooks intermittently. Some of these are held by the Wellcome Library, London. In particular, the Library notes that it has photocopies of his World War I army notebooks (the originals remain with the family). It also has: ‘A closely written loose-leaf manuscript book, which overflowed into collections of separate pages, covering the years 1940 to 1947. Judging by the varied use of past, present and future tenses and references under some dates to events that had not yet happened this volume must have been a fair copy of some earlier writing. There are further manuscript books, mixture of notes, diary and medical details continuing to 1955 and many pieces of paper, often backs of envelopes, with vignettes of a few lines elaborating particular ideas; some of these jottings, more or less modified, found a place in the book.’

In 1966, soon after the death of Winston Churchill, Constable published Moran’s book Churchill: The Struggle for Survival (1940-1945). It was presented as a day-by-day diary kept by Moran, as reflected in the book’s American title Churchill: Taken From the Diaries of Lord Moran. Some forty years later, the text was abridged and revised, and retitled Churchill at War: 1940-45 (Robinson, 2002). The Publisher’s blurb states: ‘This new edition of extracts from the extremely candid diaries of Churchill’s doctor Lord Moran, his devoted friend and confidant, contains material not previously revealed. It sheds a new light on how the great man faced up to and absorbed the strain of events during the war years, the tremendous burden of his responsibilities, and his extraordinary resolution. Moran’s keen observation, sensitivity, truth and insight, are brought to bear on Churchill’s conduct and personality. We hear of the weaknesses as well as the strengths: his rages, his jokes and salty comments, his occasional foolishness, his rare cattiness (of Attlee: ‘He has a great deal to be modest about’) and endearing playfulness, are all captured. Moran was not just an acute observer of his most famous patient. At Churchill’s side, he was able to record remarkable details of other world figures, and the historic events in which Churchill played so momentous a part.’

The original publication produced a storm of protest, not only from Churchill’s family but from other medical professionals, quoted by Moran, who considered Moran’s revelations had breached their confidences and crossed an ethical line. In the 2002 edition, Moran’s son, John, goes to some lengths to counter some of the criticisms levelled at his father. However, he fully accepts that his father did not keep a diary ‘except for very short periods’, and quotes Richard Lovell in his biography Churchill’s Doctor: A Biography of Lord Moran (Royal Society of Medicine, 1992).

Lovell says: ‘‘In his two books . . . Lord Moran alluded to his diary But he indicated in the prefaces to both books that he did not keep a diary in the ordinary sense of the word. In the First World War he scribbled in army notebooks, on the backs of orders and odd sheets of paper and in his Churchill years on the backs of envelopes and other scraps of paper. The scribblings in the army notebooks, and the elaboration of his thoughts in other notebooks, formed the basis for The Anatomy of Courage. In his Churchill years, the earliest orderings of his thoughts from his jottings (some of which, often barely legible, were also scattered through the family papers) appeared in diary form in closely written loose-leaf manuscript books, which overflowed into collections of separate pages. Judging by varied use of past, present and future tenses, and references under some dates to events that had not yet happened, these manuscript books cannot be regarded literally as a diary. Finally, in regard to the notion of a diary, the closest diary-like records from the Second World War onwards were unquestionably the letters written by Lord Moran to his family, many of which they kept.’

Thus, the diary format in the original 1966 book and its re-edition is a deception - little more than a construction in retrospect. John H. Mather, writing for the International Churchill Society, has taken a close look at the 2002 edition in order to answer his own question ‘What can be said now about the accuracy, veracity and comprehensiveness of Moran’s “diary”?’

Mather concludes: ‘Notwithstanding the discrepancies in the diary, and with the benefit of forty years of hindsight, we may conclude that Moran was the first physician significantly to reveal important information about a world figure that no one else would have been able to record. When under attack, and in his own defense, he commented to The Times: “It is not possible to follow the last twenty-five years of Sir Winston’s life without a knowledge of his medical background . . . It was exhaustion of mind and body that accounted for much that is otherwise inexplicable. Only a doctor can give the facts accurately.” Moran’s revelations of Churchill’s physical and mental health was a first, but subsequent biographers have not been squeamish about covering similar ground. This is a big plus for medical historians. Commenting on Moran as a diarist, an academician observed in 1969: “The topical question of whether a patient’s confidence has been outraged by his physician’s account of him both in his strength and in his weakness will no longer agitate the reader.” ’

Finally, here are some extracts from Moran’s ‘diary’ (taken from the 2002 edition).

28 July 1942
‘I was summoned this morning to No. 10 Downing Street, where I heard that we should soon be on the move. The P.M. has decided to fly to Cairo. From Gibraltar he will fly south to Takoradi on the Gold Coast, and so across Central Africa to Cairo. It means about five days in the air, landing at places where malaria and yellow fever are rife. The P.M. wanted my advice about inoculations. I did not like the plan and gave my reasons.

As I was leaving I met John Anderson. He said that certain members of the Cabinet were concerned about the Prime Minister’s travels and the dangers he was running in flying over hostile territory in an unarmed bomber. He and Cripps had arranged to see the P.M. this afternoon, and, as health might come up, he would like me to be there.

At the appointed hour I joined them in the Cabinet Room I was most concerned with the actual risk of the protective measures against yellow fever. While we were discussing these problems, the door opened and the Prime Minister hurried in, beaming at us disarmingly - always a sign that he is up to mischief. He began to unfold a large map, spreading it on the table.

“Vanderkloot says it is quite unnecessary to fly so far south. He has explained to me that we can fly in one hop to Cairo. Come here and look.”

Sir John knelt on a chair to get nearer the map, while Cripps leant over his shoulder. The P.M., with a pencil, traced the route from Gibraltar across Spanish Morocco till he struck the Nile, where his pencil turned sharply to the north.

“This changes the whole picture,” the P.M. added confidently. I ventured to ask who Vanderkloot was. It appeared that he had just cross the Atlantic in a bomber, and it is in this machine that we are to fly to Cairo. I wondered why it was left to an American pilot to find a safe route to Cairo, but that did not seem a profitable line of speculation.

“You see. Charles, we need not bother about inoculations.”

Anderson and Cripps pored over the map like excited schoolboys, and the party broke up without a word of warning or remonstrance about the risks the P.M was taking in flying over hostile territory in an unarmed bomber by daylight. The P.M. gets his own way with everyone with hardly a murmur.’

1 August 1942
‘Called at No. 10 to see if anything was wanted. The P.M. seemed abstracted. “There’s something very wrong there,” he muttered half to himself. “I must clear things up.” For a long time he has been worried by the reverses in the desert, and when he told me that he had asked Smuts to join him in Cairo, I knew he meant to bring things to a head. As I was leaving, he put down a telegram the secretary had just brought in.

“We may go to see Stalin. He won’t like what I have to say to him. I’m not looking forward to it.” The P.M. is turning over in his head how he can break the news to Stalin. He has to tell him that there will not be a Second Front in France this year.’

11 August 1943
‘I wish sometimes that one member of this singular family would behave like an ordinary human being. Clemmie is the culprit this time; she is being difficult - over nothing. The P.M. was in tremendous form last night. In a few hours he would be leaving Quebec for Hyde Park to spend some days as the President’s guest; then, as he grunted with great satisfaction, things would really get moving. I was therefore surprised to find him this morning in poor spirits. It appears that Clemmie was to have gone with him; but she changed her plans at the last moment; she was not sleeping well, she said. The truth is she does not like the President; once she confided to me that she does not like any great man except Winston. Winston tried to argue with her; it was not very polite to the President, he said. But Clemmie can be as difficult and obstinate as the great man himself. Besides he has ‘talked at’ her so often she has become resistant and doesn’t mind being ‘shouted down’.’


11 December 1943
‘Our luck is out. Soon after daybreak we came down near Tunis. A cold wind blew across the deserted aerodrome, there was no one about, no car, nothing. The P.M. got wearily out of the hot aircraft, looked around blankly and then, in spite of our protests, he sat down on a box, took off his hat and gloomily surveyed the sandy ground. The wind blew a wisp of hair this way and that, his face shone with perspiration. I pressed him to get back into the Skymaster; he only scowled. I went off to find out what had gone wrong, and learned that the airfield where we were expected was fifteen miles from this spot. There was nothing for it but to reembark. As the P.M. walked very slowly to the aircraft there was a grey look on his face that I did not like, and when he came at last to this house he collapsed wearily into the first chair. All day he has done nothing; he does not seem to have the energy even to read the usual telegrams. I feel much disturbed.

I went to bed early and woke to find the P.M. in his dressing-gown standing at the foot of my bed. “I’ve got a pain in my throat, here.” He put his finger just above his collar bone. I rubbed my eyes and got up. “It’s pretty bad. Do you think it’s anything? What can it be due to?” he demanded in one breath. I reassured him, and indeed I am not unduly perturbed. For a man with his strong constitution he never seems to be long without some minor ailment. Probably in the morning I shall hear no more of this pain.’

25 December 1943
‘To Early Service with Mrs Churchill. It was held in a barn with a few officers and men of the Coldstream Guards as communicants. During the service a dove flew in and perched on a rafter. The men said it meant that there would soon be peace.

An officer asked me, a little wistfully, how long the war would last. They are out of it all for a week or two guarding the Prime Minister, but they must know that when they go back the odds are against them; that it is just a matter of time. These highly civilized young men, who are so meticulous in the discharge of their duty, feel the utter beastliness of war, though they never speak of it. They have been brought up by their fathers to think that there is no sense in war, that it brings the solution of nothing.’

8 September 1944
‘It is just ten days since the P.M. landed at Northholt with a temperature of 103; for some days after that he was chesty, and the X-rays revealed a shadow at the base of the lung, a third dose, though a very mild one, of pneumonia. There had been some doubt whether he would be fit to set off on another trip so soon. I decided at the last moment to ask Lionel Whitby and a nurse to come with us. Winston has got it into his head that a pathologist is an essential part of the team to deal with an attack of pneumonia, and I thought it would comfort him to have one on board.

It was a happy thought. This morning when the P.M.’s temperature went up again he became thoroughly rattled and bad-tempered, until Whitby restored morale by finding that he had a normal blood count. The trouble is that Winston always has pneumonia at the back of his mind. Now the temperature has subsided and he is quite himself again.’

15 October 1944
‘After breakfast I called on the P.M. and found that he had diarrhoea. He was, however, in good spirits, and very hopeful about the way things are going. This afternoon his temperature went up to 101. He is quite certain now that he is beginning another attack of pneumonia.

“I am in your clutches once more, my friend. What about getting Bedford? I wouldn’t wait. The Cabinet will be getting fussed. Clemmie would like to come out, I am sure.”

He buried his head in his hands and moaned. Then Sawyers did something wrong and the P.M. flew at him. I fancy that his temperature is associated with the diarrhoea, but he won’t accept this, because the diarrhoea stopped at noon, and now, seven hours later, the temperature is still up. Nothing is gained in such circumstances by arguing. If, on our journeys, I were to send for specialists and nurses every time the P.M. runs a temperature we might as well add them to our travelling establishment. However, I sent a message to Cairo asking Pulvertaft and Scadding and two nurses to stand by; it would take them twelve hours to get here. Time enough tomorrow to send a telegram to Clemmie.’

30 January 1945
‘I turned in soon after we were in the air to get some sleep, as we were to land at Malta between four and five in the morning; an hour later Sawyers pulled my curtain back and said that the P.M. had a temperature - a good beginning to a winter journey of three thousand miles. The P.M. blames my sulphaguanadine tablets, which he has been taking during the day. As they are not absorbed from the gut, they could not be responsible, but the P.M. has views on everything, and his views on medicine are not wanting in assurance.

He was restless, and I soon gave up any attempt to sleep. He asked me if I would like to send for Whitby, the pathologist, and what about Clemmie? - the Moscow performance over again. He has developed a bad habit of running a temperature on these journeys.

It is not the flesh only that is weaker. Martin tells me that his work has deteriorated a lot in the last few months; and that he has become very wordy, irritating his colleagues in the Cabinet by his verbosity. One subject will get in his mind to the exclusion of all others - Greece, for example.

Winston stayed in bed in the plane till noon, when he was taken to H.M.S. Orion. He rested until the evening, when Harriman came to dinner. Only this morning he was in the doldrums when, turning his face to the wall, he had called for Clemmie. Surely this bout of fever should put sense into his head. But Winston is a gambler, and gamblers do not count the coins in their pockets. He will not give a thought to nursing his waning powers. And now, when it was nearly midnight, he demanded cards and began to play bezique with Harriman. Damn the fellow, will he never give himself a chance?’

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Campaigning for women’s rights

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, born 190 years ago today, was an early English campaigner for women’s suffrage and education. Indeed, she formed the first Women’s Suffrage Committee and was instrumental in setting up Girton College, the first Cambridge college for women only. Though not a diarist, she did keep a kind of diary during a formative trip to the United States, and this was, eventually, published in the early 1970s.

Bodichon was born 
8 April 1827, the first of several illegitimate child born to politician Benjamin Leigh Smith and his young mistress, Anne Longden, a milliner. They lived openly together at a farm in Sussex, despite the scandal of not being married. But Anne died when Barbara was still only seven. Leigh Smith then brought up the children on his own, later moving them to his London home in Marylebone, where they came into contact with his radical and philanthropic friends. Unusual for the time, Leigh Smith sent his daughters to local (working class) schools.

Having been endowed with £300 a year by her father, Bodichon studied art at the Ladies College in Bedford Square; and then, in 1852, with Elizabeth Whitehall, she opened Portman Hall School in Paddington. She and a group of like-minded friends, who became known
 The Ladies of Langham Place, met regularly to discuss women’s rights. In 1854, she published a pamphlet, A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women, Together with a Few Observations Thereon. Despite her doubts about marriage, she wed Dr. Eugène Bodichon, a French physician, in 1957; and they traveled to the American South later that year. They had a house built in Robertsbridge, Sussex.

In 1858, Bodichon, with others, established the English Woman’s Journal which promoted a political and social agenda, but also provided reviews on the arts. It lasted until the mid-1860s, when she helped launch a successor periodical with a feminist agenda, Englishwomen’s Review. In 1866, she formed the Women’s Suffrage Committee, the first of its kind. A petition, organised by the committee, was presented to the House of Commons by John Stuart Mill. Bodichon toured the country, speaking every where she went, and publishing pamphlets to further the cause of women’s sufferance and education. Famously, in 1873, she joined with Emily Davies to raise funds for a women-only college in Cambridge - Girton College - though it would be more than 70 years before the college was admitted to Cambridge University.

Throughout her life, Bodichon continued to paint, and even studied under William Henry Hunt. She knew many literary and artistic celebrities of the day, and was one of George Eliot’s closest friends. She fell ill in 1877, after which she was no longer able to campaign so actively. Her husband died in 1885, and shortly after she suffered a stroke, leaving her paralysed. She died in Robertsbridge in 1891. For further information see Wikipedia, Spartacus, Hastings Press, or Thoughtco.

There seems to be no evidence that Bodichon was a diarist, but, during her travels in the United States, she did keep a diary or sorts, in the form of letters to her father. These letters are held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University which provides a short description of them: ‘These letters cover the period 6 Dec 1857 to 11 Jun 1858, and describe in detail the tour of America made by Barbara Bodichon and her husband Eugène Bodichon. Their itinerary included the Mississippi River, New Orleans, Mobile, Montgomery, Savannah, Wilmington, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and parts of Canada. In her letters Bodichon discusses the condition and education of slaves and the rights of freed slaves; women's rights in America, and other aspects of life, conditions, and customs. Also described are visits to Lucretia Mott and Ralph Waldo Emerson.’

The letters were first edited by Joseph W. Reed and published in 1972 as An American Diary, 1857-8 by Routledge & Kegan Paul. As far as I can tell, it has never been re-issued or reprinted. A few extracts can be found at the website of Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, and a couple can also be read in Pam Hirsch’s biography Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel available at Googlebooks.

11 December 1857
‘Last night I sat finishing up my sketches at the public table. Company: the pretty little Mrs H. and her fair Scotch-looking husband, Mr C. the intellectual-looking Californian gentleman and Mrs B. who has a very beautiful expression and is the most refined woman on the boat. Mr C. is reading a paper and read out loud the announcement of the marriage of a mulatto and a white girl; it excites from all expressions of the utmost disgust and horror. I say, ‘It is very uncommon?’ Mr C. ‘Yes! thank God. Only permitted in Massachusetts and a few states.’ ‘There seems to be nothing disgusting in it. My brothers went to school with a mulatto and I with a mulatto girl, and I have seen mulattoes in England who were not unlikely to many with white.’ All: ‘At school! At school with niggers! ‘Yes.’ All: ‘Horrid idea, how could you?’ BLS: ‘Why, your little children all feel it possible to come in close contact with negroes, and they seem to like it; there is no natural antipathy.’ Some: ‘Yes, there is an inborn disgust which prevents amalgamation.’ (Mark this: only one-half the negroes in the United States are full-blooded Africans - the rest [the] produce of white men and black women.) Some. ‘No it is only the effect of education.’ Mr C: ‘There is no school or college in the U S. where negroes could be educated with whites.’ BLS: ‘You are wrong. Sir. At Oberlin men women and negroes are educated together.’ Mrs B: ‘Yes, I know that, because Lucy Stone was educated there with people of colour.’ Mr C: ‘Lucy Stone - she is a Woman’s Rights woman, and an atheist.’

20 April 1858
‘A cold, pelting rain and as dreary a day as ever I saw. At half past eight we set out to walk to the N. Pennsylvania Rail Station to go to City Lane to see Lucretia Mott. At the Station we saw a ‘Rockaway’ standing in the pelting rain, a fat little horse and well-to-do-looking old ‘friend.’ We had no doubt been expected in spite of the detestable weather and this was Friend Mott, no doubt come for us. Yes. So in we got and drove through what must be a very pretty park which encloses the villas of Friend Thomas Mott and some of his relations. Arrived at a pleasant-looking country house, we are received at the door by one of the four daughters of the house and led into a pretty, bright-looking room, and Lucretia Mott greets us as cordially as if we were really ‘Friend Barbara’ and ‘Friend Bodichon.’ She looks just like a picture. I never saw such a dress, like a pearl. I fell in love with her immediately. She looks ‘full of grace’ in every sense of the word. I do not wonder her preaching has stirred so many souls, her aspect is eloquent, her smile full of good things. She seems to be full of vigour and looks in perfect health, though I believe she is seventy years old. She asked me about Lord Byron, Friend Elizabeth Reid and Julia Smith spoke of them, all three with great regard, especially Friend Elizabeth Reid. She put her hands on my shoulders and said how happy it made her to see that the young women of England were thinking about their rights and trying to do something for justice and freedom. She asked me about Eliza Ton and Bessie Parkes and Mrs. J. Shill especially and I told her as well as I could the number of women and the principle powers on the side of Women’s Rights in England. When she was in England (1840?), she says, the idea was scouted and no women she met in England dared to advocate the rights of women. She seemed absolutely to chuckle with glee to hear that we hold all that she and ‘the Friends’ advocate and only wait to claim the suffrage because it would be useless to try for it now. Massachusetts must make that move - and will, I believe - before many years are passed. So at least the women think.

It is a pleasure to see thouroughgoing reformers who are not poor - it is so rare to see rich people really given to reform ideas. When I see a rich woman like Lucretia Mott advocating a cause which is yet in the rotten-egg stage (I mean its advocates are apt to have rotten eggs and dirtier words thrown at them), I think there is some hope of the rich getting through the eye of the needle into heaven.

Lucretia Mott asked me many questions about the South and slavery, and I told her what I have told you of the wonderful eloquence of the black preachers, of the sales at N. Orleans, the general well-being of the coloured population (compared to white) in Louisiana, of the secret schools, and of the widespread knowledge among the slaves of the efforts made to emancipate.

Lucretia Mott showed me a mass of Woman’s Right literature and I made my pick for the benefit of B.R.P. and M.H., and she showed me her books of notes for lectures with extracts and little quotations so nicely put together, and as we looked them over she gave me little accounts of the occasions on which they were used. She says all the Women’s Rights conventions have been quiet, orderly and dignified and that the rumours of their vulgarity are absolutely unfounded. This Mr. Mott confirmed and said they were more orderly than conventions held by men.

Of course we had a nice dinner and no wine but delicious tea. Bessie remembers Miss Pugh. She was there and her sister, and I was charmed with them. Fanny Priestly is coming to stay with them.

I was very happy that they had remarked one of my drawings - the ‘sunset over corn and willow land’ which was exhibited here in the English Ex: and now gone to Boston.

Please let Mrs. Reid know that I have seen her friends and how pleasant it was to me to feel a link between such good people.

My Doctor was delighted with the whole family as much as I was, and we drove away with good Friend Mott in the rockaway to the station in a most satisfied state of mind and soaking rain. Mrs. Howitt’s niece Miss Harrison is going to marry into this society and I think she could not do better; Lucretia Mott is a heart. I wish we had in England ten thousand good as she.

Tomorrow we go to an anti-slavery meeting with Mrs. Mott and you shall hear what else we do. But I shall post this when we are in town.’

10 June 1858
‘Wendell Phillips came in the evening. He was enchanting. He told me that the W. R. Movement had made immense progress since 1850. He knows twenty women at least who can gain their living by lecturing in Lyceums. He says Lyceums in debt very often get women to come and lecture on W.R. even when they do not agree with her, because they know she will attract a paying audience. Gentlemen who were dead set against the W.R. now advocate it. A Governor of Ohio was obliged to apologize to the ladies of Ohio and recant because he refused to hear female delegates to some Society, etc. etc.

Wendell Phillips himself says when Lyceums come to him he says, “Yes, I will lecture for you: 50 dollars for Literature or Abolition, or WR for nothing.” ’

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lady Minto’s Indian diary

Academic Foundation, which describes itself as India’s leading independent publisher of academic/scholarly books in social sciences, has just published a condensed edition of the extensive diaries kept by Lady Minto during the five years that her husband was Viceroy and Governor-General of India. According to the publisher, ‘some of her opinions would make contemporary feminists, egalitarians of all sorts, gasp in horror but her extraordinary charm and passion for life, her sense of humour and sharp eye and ear for place, person and dialogue make her irresistible.’

Mary Caroline Grey was born in 1858, the daughter of General Charles Grey, private secretary to Prince Albert and later to Queen Victoria. Her grandfather, the 2nd Early Grey, had been a British Prime Minister. She married Gilbert John Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound in 1883, who succeeded to the title of the 4th Earl of Minto in 1891. They had five children. In 1898, Lord Minto was named Governor General of Canada. In 1901, after Queen Victoria’s death, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later to become King George V and Queen Mary) visited Canada, and travelled with Lady Minto to western Canada and the Klondike. Lord and Lady Minto were both keen sports enthusiasts, and together founded the Minto Skating Club in Ottawa.

In 1905, Lord Minto was appointed Viceroy and Governor-General of India (thus following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, the first Lord Minto). As in Canada, Lady Minto thrust herself wholeheartedly into supporting her husband with lavish social events, and contributing to charitable causes - launching, for example, Lady Minto’s Indian Nursing Association and remaining its president for many years. In 1907, Lady Minto organised a two-week Fete to raise funds for the Indian Nursing Association; and she arranged for the issue of several stamps. However, these caused a furore because they didn’t carry an image of the king - see Indian Postage Stamps for more. 


On returning from India in 1910, Lady Minto was appointed a Lady in Waiting to Queen Mary and, following the death of King George V, she was made an Extra Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Mary. Lady Minto outlived her husband by a quarter of a century, dying in 1940. There is very little detailed biographical information online but the writer William Cross has a small website devoted to Lady Minto, and Wikipedia has an entry on Lord Minto. The Peerage also has a short entry for Lady Mary Caroline Grey

Lady Minto did, though, leave a substantial body of written material behind, now held by the National Library of Scotland (but I can find no trace of the holdings on the Library’s website). Much of this written material is in the form of diaries covering the years 1911-1936. She, herself, drew heavily on the diaries for her book India, Minto and Morley published by Macmillan in 1934 (available as a pdf from Internet Archive). She also made her diary available to the famous Scottish writer John Buchan for his Lord Minto, A Memoir (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1924). This is available online at Internet Archive or Googlebooks. Buchan describes Lady Minto’s journal as ‘delightful’ and expresses a wish that it ‘could be given intact to the world, for in light and colour those words of an eye-witness are far superior to any chronicle at second hand.’

Only the diaries Lady Minto kept while in India have ever been published in their own right. It seems she had five volumes (and a sixth index volume) printed privately (probably at the Viceroy’s Press) around 1910 for family members and close friends. These volumes appear to be extremely rare. At the time of writing, the specialist antique bookseller Bates and Hindmarsh has a single volume of the index on sale for over £300; it also claims to have sold a full set, bound in blue, to the British Library. Anabel Loyd, a writer on Indian affairs, has edited the original Indian diaries into a single volume, which she self-published in 2015 through Amazon, as Vicereine: The Indian Journal of Mary, Countess of Minto. Since then, the Indian publisher Academic Foundation has re-published Loyd’s book (in March 2017), with the same title but a more upmarket presentation.

Here is the publisher’s blurb: ‘Mary Minto was a woman of her times. Some of her opinions would make contemporary feminists, egalitarians of all sorts, gasp in horror but her extraordinary charm and passion for life, her sense of humour and sharp eye and ear for place, person and dialogue make her irresistible. The people she met, the sights she saw and wrote of from her ringside position are part of all our histories most deliciously described in her journal. Even Lord Kitchener, stiff image on a poster, comes to improbable life playing parlour games at Simla and winning, to general hilarity, a baby elephant at the Minto Fete. There is so much more - maharajas, palaces, tigers and bears, pet dogs, Afghanistan and Burma, kings, queens and princes, a vast brigade of servants. . . this is a vivid slideshow of a particular life in India at the beginning of a century of change illustrated with previously unseen photographs . . . riches indeed.’

The following extracts are taken from the British Library’s (blue-covered) volumes of Lady Minto’s My Indian Journal.

3 February 1908
‘Remained at Barrackpore till the evening, planning garden improvements. Our big dinner party was postponed on account of the court mourning. Returned to Calcutta.’

6 February 1908
‘Violet, Francis, and I motored into the slums of the city and witnessed the worship of the Goddess of Wisdom by hundreds of little Hindu children. They sang a sort of chant, and then offered flowers. They have all sorts of strange traditions - if any worshipper of Saraswati does not abstain from using pen and ink on the feast day, they expect to be struck dumb. I believe they all prayed that I might have some share in the wisdom that the goddess freely dispenses; this no doubt will benefit me greatly during remainder of the year. The priest were delighted at my visit, and I departed covered with garlands, and scattering petals of flowers that clung to my garments.’

7 February 1908
‘Visited the Presidency General Hospital, and saw all the improvements they have made owing to our donation of Rs. 20,000 given from the Minto Fete Fund. The nurses in Calcutta are not up to date, and it is almost impossible to get a satisfactory nurse under Rs. 10 a day, and very often there is not one to be had for love or money. This makes me hope that Bengal will join my Nursing Scheme, but Calcutta is a difficult place to tackle, so many different people and interests have to be considered. Drove with Mrs. Forbes to the Tollygunge Steeplechases; crowds of people there. Captain Holden won two races: one on Lord Harry, the other on his new horse Jasper.’

15 June 1908
‘Went to church, and then had a quiet day, reading letters and papers. It is rather amusing that the Times should accuse the Government of India of inaction, and express a hope that they will not go to sleep again. It is not altogether probable that the people who are affected by the bombs and outrages should have any desire to fall asleep! It is easy to criticise from a distance of 5,000 miles. I hear Chirol has been ill, and is hors de combat at present. It is rather unlucky that the Times have taken on as Indian correspondent a man called Eraser who used to be on the staff of the Times of India; he got into trouble owing to drink and was dismissed; he also wrote for the National Review; he is very clever with his pen. He is a tremendous partisan, and I suppose because we were succeeding Lord Curzon he began to write spiteful articles before we reached India; these continued from time to time; then he made a most violent attack on me about the Nursing Scheme, saying I had simply made use of Lady Curzon’s work, &c., &c. It is rather strange to think of the power a man like this has, and that the British public accept as Gospel truth whatever views the most wrong-headed correspondent chooses to give vent to.’

29 June 1908
‘Went with Captain Goldie to see Lady Duff. She has made her house charming, quite the most English-looking abode I have seen in India. She has wall-papers which make the rooms much more cosy, they are a rare luxury out here. Each room is entirely of one colour, the shades all thought out with the greatest care.’

19 December 1908
‘Went to the races. Tea was spread out in a shamiana under the trees of which numerous people partook. This is an excellent way of getting in touch with Calcutta society.

Went down to Barrackpore by motor. Miserable at receiving a most anxious account of Lord Windsor. The nurses are splendid; Colonel Crooke is quite devoted and never leaves the house unless relieved for an hour or so by Major Bird wood or Captain O’Meara. Captain Gibbs and Arthur Guise are both at Agra, but have not been allowed into Lord Windsor’s room.’

3 February 1907
The Drummonds left at 8 a. m. Roily and I started in the motor at 11 o’clock for Barrackpore; the others came by launch. The Amir arrived at 1 o’clock and remained till 6 o’clock; he enjoyed himself so enormously. I was so exhausted after looking after him for all those hours that I went straight to bed, having had a terrible week of fatigue with the Fete. The Adams, Clem, Violet Crawley, and Lena Ashburton all came to help us to entertain the Amir, but what he really enjoyed was playing croquet with Eileen; he had never seen the game before, and enjoyed it so much that to my horror he suggested returning the next day to have another lesson. Sir Henry McMahon came to our assistance and put difficulties in the way. There was a good deal of chaff about a policeman who was engaged to guide him from Hastings House to the Lieutenant-Governor’s, a distance of a 100 yards; but the man lost his head and took him round and round and contrived to keep him 3/4 of an hour en route. The Amir said he was quite glad of this, as it had given him such amusement. I told him that he had visited so many places in Calcutta that he must know the city so much better than I did, that he could certainly be my guide. He answered with a bow - “If I was your guide, I should only guide you to Hastings House” (where he is lodging). After luncheon he said he had a few presents he wished to give us, and under the banyan tree were four separate piles of goods for myself and the three girls. He took the greatest delight in giving us each individual thing. The girls waited while he made me my presentations - first a lovely diamond and ruby bird of paradise, then some Astrakhan skins and other furs, and innumerable stuffs all made in Afghanistan, a shawl he insisted on pinning round me, and lastly two beautiful Persian rugs. Each girl had exactly the same in smaller numbers: Eileen a lovely ruby and diamond ribband ornament, Ruby five small diamond stars, and Violet one larger one, unfortunately all set in gold. Rolly was given the presents on a previous occasion. Gigantic carpets, furs, stuffs - and some Indian silver; also a silver cigarette-case with Venus in coloured enamel! a most startling apparition, but these will have to go to the Toshakahna. The Amir and I drove round the garden in the small pony-carriage. He is very fat and broad, and I had almost to sit on the spash board to avoid being squeezed flat by his portly figure. The shrubs are looking beautiful and are now in full bloom. Bill Lascelles has returned from Singapore; be was nearly boiled alive, and is most thankful to have got back again. It was an expedition he is glad to have experienced but is heartily thankful it is over.’

17 September 1910
‘After luncheon I paid a round of visits, said good-bye to Mrs. Clerke, sat some time with the Buchner family, visited Longe’s recently married wife, and then went on to see Mr. Parson’s garden. Unluckily a terrific storm came on which prevented my going beyond his green house. His flowers are celebrated and provide table decoration for the whole of Simla. Had tea with the Harnam Singhs. Lady Harnam is an exceptionally nice woman and very clever. All their sons have been brought up in England and one of them is married to an English woman. This son left India so young that, when he returned after leaving College, he could not understand a word of his own language; he alludes to the English and himself as “we”, and to natives as “they ”. Went on to see Mrs. Spence and sat with her till nearly dinner time. Went with the Erskines and Showers to the first performance of the Mikado, which was extremely good. Captain Hewett made a most excellent Chinaman, and Nelly Dane as one of the three little maids from school looked extremely pretty. It was terribly long and we did not get to bed till 1-30.’

29 October 1910
‘Rolly and I drove to the foot of the hill at Mashobra and rode round by Wild Flower Hall and had tea at the Retreat. Looked round the little house and garden for the last time, where we have spent so many happy days. We left the old mali in tears and walked by our favourite walk down the hill to the Mashobra bazaar, where the carriage awaited us. We felt very sentimental driving along the winding road for the last time with the overhanging rocks and pine trees lit up with the reflected gold from the setting sun.’

13 November 1910
‘My birthday brings a nasty jar with it, reminding me of advancing years, but the mail dispelled depression, as I received such delightful letters of good wishes from all the family. It gave me the pleasure to know what I was being thought of by loved ones far away. We received a cable last night from Mr. Gamier with the good news of Larry’s complete recovery. It was most thoughtful of him sending it, as I should otherwise have fussed on receiving the details of his accident, which was a very severe one. He was cantering across a stubble field with a friend when his horse must have put his foot into a rabbit hole and fallen with such force that the horse broke its neck and Larry was thrown violently to the ground. He was picked up in an unconscious condition and taken to a neighbouring farm-house, where the owners have been most kind and hospitable in allowing him to remain there. Mr. Gamier sent for the most eminent surgeon in the eastern counties, and I am thankful to say that no ill-effects are anticipated. I am so touched by the kind thought that has been evinced on all sides and so grateful to Lord Albermarle and Mr. Gamier for the care they have taken of Larry. I hope we shall find him entirely restored to health on our return.

Played a round of golf with Colonel Victor in tho early morning before the heat of the day. We are agreeably surprised to find the weather exceptionally cool for November. There has been an unprecedented amount of rain here during the autumn, consequently the Park is greener than I have ever seen it, and trees and shrubs look luxuriantly fresh and healthy. Roily and I went for a short ride in the afternoon before the 6 o’clock service, which we all attended. After dinner we sat out quite late enjoying the perfect temperature and the gorgeous moon which lighted up the whole river, and made the scene about as perfect a one as could be imagined.’

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shambles in the dug-outs

Arthur Graeme West, a young Balliol man interested in literature and poetry, was killed 100 years ago today fighting in France against Germany. He is only remembered today for one book, edited and published by a pacifist friend, containing his diary, which chronicles as growing disenchantment with war, and his anti-war poetry. The diary, in particular, is considered one of the first realistic accounts of life in the army and conditions in the trenches.

West was born in Norfolk in 1891, but, by the age of 10, his family had moved to Highgate, north London. From 14, he boarded at Blundell’s School, Devon. In 1910, he won the school’s scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, and for several years immersed himself in classics and then literature. In 1915, he signed up for the Public Schools Battalion, was promoted to lance corporal, and soon saw war action in France. In 1916, he joined an officer training course in Scotland, before being made a second lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Although he was disillusioned with the idea of war, and was even considering becoming a conscientious objector, he went back to France, to the trenches, where he was killed by a sniper’s bullet on 3 April 1917. A few further details about his short life are available at Wikipedia, The War Poets Association, Lives of the First World War, or the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Most of the biographical information about West, however, comes from the same source: a book published the year after his death which includes extracts from his diary, poetry, and an introduction. The Diary of a Dead Officer being the posthumous papers of Arthur Graeme West was edited by Cyril Joad, an Oxford colleague, as a work of pacifist propaganda. (Indeed, West is only remembered today because of the publication of this diary.) It was first produced in 1918 by the left-wing paper The Herald (and printed by Francis Meynell’s Pelican Press, which also published Siegfried Sassoon’s Protest). The following year, though, it was re-issued by the mainstream publisher George Allen & Unwin. Copies of this latter can be read freely at Internet Archive; and several pages can also be viewed online at the British Library website. More recently, the diary has been republished by the Imperial War Museum in 1991 and again by Greenhill Books (an imprint distributed by Pen & Sword Books) in 2007.  See also Callum James’ blog.

According to the British Library, The Diary of a Dead Officer ‘is seen as one of the first realistic accounts of life in the army and the conditions in the trenches’. It charts, the BL says, the growing disillusionment of a British officer who enlisted out of a sense of duty and patriotism: ‘These principles soon changed to a growing sense of disenchantment as he experienced the reality of army life and the way the war was being conducted in France.’ The diary also contains poems ‘that are regarded as among the first realistic poems of the war’, such as The Night Patrol and God! How I Hate You, You Young Cheerful Men!

Here are several extracts from West’s diary.

13 May 19160
‘Early morning parade occurred with saluting with canes for an hour; various new stunts introduced. Speech by Company Sergeant-Major to the effect that if our kits, caps, and huts were not clean and correct we needn’t think we would go on leave, because we wouldn’t; we would stay and clean them.

Rifle inspection. Several men were had up for moving on parade, among them C_ for scratching his chin. They were brought up before Captain R_, who asked if they had any excuse. They hadn’t, and he told them about discipline, about disciplined troops always beating undisciplined, of how the new officers were all found totally unable to stand still on parade, how if they had been guardsmen they would be made to stand before a clock for an hour, that they had to stand still without moving an eyelash and were cursed for moving their eyes.

The C.O. inspected us in the huts with about ten people oozing after him. Cursed a few men for long hair or hat-band not properly white; no more said. Afterwards C.S.M. had us all on parade, said men were not to be on C. O.’s parade again with dirty boots, that overcoat buttons were to be clean, and all clean in respect of kit and equipment. Then he went on with a long rigmarole about men from Territorial Force units, and some formal filling up of papers. This lasted twenty minutes, during which time he had us at attention or at ease the whole time, never easy. Finally he did nothing with the B.E.F, men at all, and we need really never have been brought out there. The C.O. to-day ordered all the spittoons to be removed from the canteen because of the look they gave to the place; the canteen-man had paid eighteen shillings for them. We learnt about now that the Battalion being full the course would now start in earnest and we might look forward to another four months; we might really have been away all the time.’

18 May 1916
‘A hot day. We did fire-control all the time under the Adjutant, Brigade Officer, &c. One noted, first, their utter inability to teach us anything because there were too many superannuated old martinets trying to do it at the same time; secondly, the lack of doctrine among them all: even if they could have taught, they knew nothing. The way we were taught musketry was laughable. The whole Company was kept in close order, echeloned in half-companies at twenty paces, and moved up and down the field first in single rank, then in ordinary close formation, finally halted in echelon, and given fire-orders by the Platoon Commander and Sectional Commanders, with front rank kneeling, rear rank standing; the C.O. meanwhile  stood in the background for a long time, checking people in a peevish ineffectual way for minor irrelevances. It was always the same thing with us; we had three men shouting at us at once when we were on parade, each one eager to outshine the others in his keenness in detecting faults and the  strength and accuracy of his denunciation of the offender. It was always impossible to please them all, and when one had you alone he was sure to scold you for methods on which the others had been fondly insistent. Our instructors, and even our officers, were not above confessing that they didn’t know the drill which they were supposed to be there to teach us.’

9 July 1916
‘Went sick. Headache,  &c. C.S.M. came in about seven and cursed me for still lying in bed, and went up and shouted at one man who had been in bed two days quite poorly. We were told to wake up, stir up; that he had to get up when he was ill. Did we think the doctor would come and see us there? He (C. S.M.) would go to the doctor as long as he could crawl to him. We were men now, not boys, and we must pull ourselves together; we should get up and begin to tidy up the hut. About twenty minutes after he came in and cursed us all again. After brekker the sick paraded, and G_ was badly scolded for having us there late. Then we were told that perhaps we didn’t know that days when we were sick were struck off our training and had to be completed at the end; perhaps if we had known that we should not have gone sick.’

8 August 1916
‘I now find myself disbelieving utterly in Christianity as a religion, or even in Christ as an actual figure. I seem to have lost in softness and become harder, more ferocious in nature, and in appearances certainly, by virtue of my moustache! So violently do I react against the conventional religion that once bound me - or if it did not bind me, at any rate loomed behind me - that I loathe and scorn all emotionalism and religious feeling. When I was at E_ waiting for a commission to come, I was boarded on two persons, with whom and their friends I had several arguments, I in favour of science and abstract truth, and they in favour of emotion, denying advance of knowledge and running down science itself as a work of the devil. Of course, more often I was simply tolerant of all this sort of thing, e.g. among parsons and my family, but sometimes it burned up very fiercely; as when I found J_ was against me re Christ, and liked to believe he existed, simply because he was a “jolly” character. It seems to me shameful that a man with his power of mind should be regardless of Truth, should hold that the question is one that doesn’t matter; whereas I, of far less able mind, have by my nature’s law to struggle on after Truth with my inferior equipment. He threw cold water on the whole affair and made me for the moment the bitterer. Really, as I see now, the matter is not one of great importance, simply because belief in the efficacy of the figure is the important thing and the reality of the exigence does not longer concern me.’

27 September 1916
‘The French came up behind us in large numbers, very active and talkative. Daylight showed a fearful lot of dead Germans round the trench and an appalling shambles in the dug-outs.

A fairly quiet day, sunny. The French moved about all over the valley regardless of anything. We had two good meals. We were relieved at night by the French.’

29 September 1916.
Rainy and depressing. Up to trenches again by T_ Wood. Seven men killed by a shell as soon as we got in the trench; beastly sight! I went up to find the way at G_ at night. I got back to find a Buszard’s cake - jolly evening. Slept on the floor of a dug-out. Stomach troubles.’

3 November 1916
‘I sit on a high bank above a road at H_. By my side  stands a quarter of a bottle of red wine at 1. 50 francs the bottle. The remaining three-quarters are in my veins. I am perfecftly happy physically: so much so that only my physical being asserts itself. From my toes to the very hair of my head I am a close compact unit of pleasurable sensations. Now, indeed, it is good to live; a new power, a new sensibility to physical pleasure in all my members. The whistle blows for “Fall in!” I lift the remnant of the wine to my lips and drain the dregs. All the length of the march it lasts me, and the keenness, the compactness, the intensity of perpetual well-being doesn’t even leave my remotest finger-tips.

The silver veil of gossamer webs are round my hair, the juice of the autumn grape gladdening all my veins. I am the child of Nature. I wish always to be so.’

The Diary Junction

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Dreadful meetings

‘At 11.30 yet another War Ctee. These have been really dreadful [meetings] . . . Yesterday the P.M. was writing answers to Parliamentary questions all the time, with the result that the discussion was never kept to the point. . . Today Ll. G. came up with an undigested and stupid proposal for a “Shipping Dictator” which wasted the whole meeting . . . Thus and thus is the British Empire governed at a critical stage of the war. I have done all I can to get meetings; to crystallize woolly discussions into clear-cut decisions, and to promote concord - but the task is a Herculean one!’ This is cabinet secretary Maurice Hankey sounding off, in his private diary in 1916, but more like a minister than a civil servant. In fact, he was one of very few civil servants to transition to ministerial status, which he did under Chamberlain in WW2. His lasting legacy, however, was in instigating the functions and procedures for running government through a cabinet.

Hankey was born on 1 April 1877 in Biarritz, France, where his family was on holiday from their home in Brighton. He was the fifth child of Robert Alers Hankey, who had earlier in life emigrated to be a sheep farmer in Australia, and his Australian wife, Helen Bakewell. Maurice attended a day school in Brighton before moving on to Rugby School (1890-1895). Against his family’s wishes, he joined the Royal Marine Artillery, and, in 1897, passed out first with the sword of honour from the Royal Naval College. Later the following year, he secured an appointment on the Ramillies, the flagship of the Mediterranean station, to which he added unofficial and unpaid intelligence work

Having been noticed by Admiral Sir John Fisher, soon to be first sea lord, Hankey took up his first Whitehall appointment in 1902, joining the staff of the naval intelligence department. The following year, he married Adeline Hermine Gertrude Ernestine de Smidt, the daughter of a former surveyor-general of Cape Colony. They would have four children. In 1908, he was appointed naval assistant secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence, becoming secretary in 1912, a position he would hold for a quarter of a century. In late 1914, soon after the start of WWI, he was made secretary of the war council, and then, when David Lloyd George became prime minister, he became secretary to the the PM’s small wartime cabinet. After the war, in 1923, he was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council; often, also, he served as secretary for many international conferences.

Following his retirement from government in 1938, Hankey was, for a short time, a director of the Suez Canal Company. In 1939, he was ennobled as 1st Baron Hankey; and, the same year, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain appointed him to his war cabinet as a minister without portfolio - thus making him one of very few civil servants who made the transition to ministerial office. When Chamberlain was succeeded by Churchill, Hankey was left out of the war cabinet but then served briefly as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and then Paymaster General, before leaving government in 1942. In the late 1940s, he published Politics, Trials and Errors opposing the policy of war-crime trials. He died in 1963.

The History of Government website gives this assessment: ‘As well as a distinguished personal career, Hankey made a major contribution to the system of cabinet government, which can clearly be traced from his period of office to the present day. On his retirement in 1938, he continued to hold the posts of Secretary of the CID, Cabinet Secretary and Clerk to the Privy Council. No-one did more than Maurice Hankey to establish and refine the system of government that was forged in the trials of the First World War, survived the test of the Second World War and still endures in a clearly recognisable form today.’ Further information is also available from Wikipedia, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (log-in required), Reviews in History, National Archives, and Spartacus.

Hankey kept diaries for much of his life. These are held by the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge University. Despite being dubbed famous by historians - see Churchill Archives Centre News - they have never been published; they are, though, open to researchers. That said, many extracts from the diaries have been published in a three-volume biography of Hankey - Man of Secrets - by Stephen Roskill (Collins, 1970-1974). The following extracts are taken from the first volume.

16 September 1915
‘. . . Saw Lord K. who asked me to join a new War Office General Staff Committee considering [the] question of future action at the Dardanelles. Churchill also a member. At 5 p.m. Churchill called and told me that the Prime Minister and he both regarded me as responsible for [the] success of arrangements for winter at Dardanelles. This I vigorously repudiated as one cannot have responsibility without authority . . . Churchill then pestered me to take up and press forward provision of a new trench mortar called the Stokes gun . . . This I undertook to do and put Swinton on to it.’

17 September 1915
‘Hurst (F.O. Legal Adviser) called to induce me to take over Lord Crewe’s new Trade Co-ordinating Ctee. as part of C.I.D. Very heavy day writing paper on arrangements for winter campaign [at Dardanelles] and stirring up people at Adty. and W.O. on all sorts of details.’

18 September 1915
‘Lunched at 10 Downing St. P.M. has definitely made up his mind in favour of voluntary service and not compulsory service, and has written to Balfour asking him to stand by him on the question. Completed paper on winter arrangements at Dardanelles.’

2 May 1916
‘Spent morning preparing notes for P.M.’s speech to introduce compulsion for married men. P.M. was very “short” when I saw him and obviously hated the job. I dropped into the House after lunching at the Club and heard the speech. It was not a very good one - not so good as the one I gave him. The House was astonishingly cold. The fact was that the people who want compulsory service don’t want Asquith, while those who want Asquith don’t want compulsory service; so he fell between two stools! It is really an astonishing situation. The only real military case for the Bill is the great offensive. For an ordinary campaign there are heaps of men. That is to say we could fight the whole summer and lose men on the same scale as we lost them last year, which included Gallipoli, Neuve Chapelle, Loos and Festubert, and still have 50,000 men up our sleeve at the end of the year. But the Army want a regular orgy of slaughter this summer, and it is for this that they demand the extra men. Thus the Cabinet have yielded to a demand based solely on carrying out the plan for a great offensive, a plan which no member of the Cabinet and none of the regimental soldiers who will have to carry it out believe in, a plan conceived in the heads of the red-hatted, brass-bound brigade behind, who know little of the conditions at the actual front and are out of touch with real regimental opinion. It is alleged that we must do this thing to save the Russians - yet the French did it all last summer, with the result that they are now bled white and have no reserves left. . . Yet we are asked by the “scientific” soldier to repeat the process, notwithstanding that it may jeopardise the financial stability of this country on which the whole future of the Allies rests! Strongly though I feel on this matter I find it extraordinarily difficult to take any action, because I am not the constitutional military adviser of the government. Yet I have my own plan, which I have communicated to Robertson and Robertson to Haig, and which I am certain must succeed . . . Came home much depressed.’

24 May 1916
‘War Ctee. . . in morning. Frightful row about a minute by the Army Council threatening to resign if the War Committee insisted on an inquiry into the peace question. At the beginning of the meeting all except the Cabinet members were turned out of the room for nearly an hour while the Cabinet members discussed Colonel House, who seems to have sent a communication to the effect that the time has come to avail ourselves of the offer by President Wilson referred to earlier . . . McKenna, with whom I walked home to lunch, told me that they had not reached a decision, but that he, the P.M., Grey and Balfour had been in favour of accepting President Wilson’s good offices, owing to the black financial outlook, while Bonar Law and Ll. George were averse . . . He [McKenna] thought there was every prospect of the proposal being accepted. Apparently Grey had submitted one draft telegram, but another was being prepared on lines proposed by Balfour.’

10 November 1916
‘. . . At 11.30 yet another War Ctee. These have been really dreadful [meetings] . . . Yesterday the P.M. was writing answers to Parliamentary questions all the time, with the result that the discussion was never kept to the point. . . Today Ll. G. came up with an undigested and stupid proposal for a “Shipping Dictator” which wasted the whole meeting. Yet the subjects for discussion are absolutely vital, involving no less than our economic power to continue the war next year . . . I have always foreseen that we should be strangled by our armies, and it is actually happening. Supplies short, prices high and no shipping to be got. There are only two solutions - either to reduce the size of the army or to introduce foreign labour, and the Govt, won’t adopt either . . . Thus and thus is the British Empire governed at a critical stage of the war. I have done all I can to get meetings; to crystallize woolly discussions into clear-cut decisions, and to promote concord - but the task is a Herculean one!’

3 December 1916
‘After tea I went down to 10 Downing St. to find out if I could help in any way in the political crisis, having heard that the P.M. had come back to town. Lloyd George was closeted with the P.M. In Bonham Carter’s room I found assembled Montagu, Bonham Carter, Masterton Smith, Davies, and Marsh.

At the Unionist Ministers’ meeting in the morning a resolution had been passed demanding the resignation of the P.M., which Bonar Law had transmitted, but no-one seemed to regard it as more than a bluff to force the P.M. to give Lloyd George the chairmanship of the War Ctee. Shortly after I arrived LI. G. came out, and after a short palaver with Montagu, asked to see me, as he was awaiting the arrival of B.L. who had been sent for. Ll. George then told me that the Unionists had insisted that he should become Prime Minister, but he had flatly declined, and had insisted that he would only serve under Asquith. Apparently the P.M. had agreed that Ll. G. should have a free hand with the War Ctee, but there was a difficulty about personnel. Ll. G. insisted on Balfour’s leaving the Adty. He himself intended to remain S. of S. for War, and he saw that the First Lord in this event must also be a member, but he would not agree to Balfour. The only reason he gave for this was “too much wool”, but in my opinion he wants to be virtually “Dictator” and Balfour is too strong and dialectically too skilful to allow this. The P.M. however is in a difficult position in getting rid of Balfour, because, when he forced him a week or two ago to substitute Jellicoe for Jackson as First Sea Lord, he added his strong wish that Balfour should remain in office. Lloyd George wishes the War Ctee. to consist of Bonar Law, Carson, and Henderson the Labour man, and apparently the P.M. will put up with this but boggles only over Balfour, who cannot be left out if he remains at the Adty. While Ll. G. was with the P.M. we had foreseen this and Montagu had sent in a note to suggest that Balfour would probably be willing to offer his resignation, if he knew how much depended on it. Then Bonar Law arrived and he and Lloyd George were closeted with the Prime Minister for half an hour or so. Eventually they agreed, that the Cabinet should resign and the Prime Minister should reconstruct on the basis of the Lloyd George plan. This expedient enables the P.M. to get rid of Balfour decently by an exchange of offices. How the Unionist members will take it, and how McKenna and Runciman will take it remains to be seen. The new War Ctee. is really ridiculous. Bonar Law is by common consent the poorest figure on the present War Ctee. Carson, on the old Dardanelles Ctee. was positively pitiful and worse than Bonar Law. Henderson is an untried man, and it is scarcely possible that his education can have fitted him for the job. Really it all depends upon Lloyd George, who is brilliant but often unsound. The others are merely representatives of the noisiest groups in the House of Commons to prop him up, and there is no member of the House of Lords. No one would say that these four were the wisest heads to win the war - two are really feather heads. It is a mere political expedient of the most transparent kind to tide over a difficult crisis. My own position, if I retain the Secretaryship of the War Ctee will be very difficult. If they do foolish things I shall be bound to go to the P.M. about it and Ll. G. will always be suspicious of me and probably shunt me. Then there will be interminable rows with the General Staff, and Ll. G. is nearly certain to shunt Robertson and quite possibly may try and saddle me with the responsibility of giving military advice, a responsibility that in the first place does not pertain to my constitutional position, and in the second place will bring me into serious trouble with the General Staff and its Press myrmidons. Altogether a most difficult position, and one which I look forward to with the utmost apprehension, though not unmixed with amusement. If only I was financially independent, I should not mind a bit, and as it is, it has a spice of adventure that is attractive.

12 January 1917
‘Saw Amery first thing and told him I could not possibly have his scheme of a subterranean line of communication with the Dominions, . . . and he frankly admitted that his ultimate idea was to displace the Colonial Office, and substitute my office as the means of communication between the Dominions and the Prime Minister. I don’t mind his principle so much, though I doubt its desirability, but anyhow I won’t have his methods and told him so flat. He is a scheming little devil and his connection with The Times would make it possible for him to oust me, so the position is delicate. Then I got a message from the Foreign Office that Sonnino had telegraphed for my notes of the Rome Conference with a view to a procès verbale, and I had to “sport my oak” and dictate for four hours on end . . . Providentially the War Cabinet did not meet until 5 p.m. At the end of the meeting Ll. George suddenly postponed to-morrow’s meeting, which had been most carefully organised for 11.30, until the afternoon, which involved putting off a dozen or so of experts summoned for the different items. . . . These horribly unbusinesslike methods of Lloyd George’s render organisation almost impossible.’


11 February 1917
‘Had a brain wave on the subject of anti-submarine warfare, so ran down to Walton Heath in the afternoon to formulate my ideas to Ll. George, who was very interested. I sat up late completing a long Memo, on the subject. My Memo, was an argument for convoys, but contained a great number of suggestions.’

29 April 1917
‘In one way this has been one of the most dreadful weeks of the war, owing to appalling mercantile losses from submarines. These have depressed me very much, but at last, when it is almost too late, the Govt, are taking action. I spent the whole morning dictating a long Memo, to help Ll. G., who has undertaken to investigate the whole question at the Admiralty on Monday. I also had a talk on the telephone with Lord Stamfordham, who says the King is very angry with the Press attacks on the Admiralty, though in my opinion these attacks are largely justified. For example a few weeks ago they scouted the idea of convoy. Now they are undertaking it on their own initiative, but apparently want weeks to organise it - though this at any rate might have been done earlier. They don’t look ahead. As Lord Fisher has lately written to me the problem is “Can the Army win the war before the Navy loses it?” My horrible prophecy when Lord K.’s army was first conceived, that we should lose at sea without winning on land, threatens to come true . . .’