Unique IDCWGC/1/1/1/14-2
File NumberMU 14
TitleDiary Of Events - J. R. Brooke, 4 Dec.- 11 Dec. 1914


DescriptionDiary of events kept by J. R. Brooke covering the ambulance operations of the Fabian Ware's mobile unit of the British Red Cross Society. This diary covers the period 4th to 11th December, and records the activities of the unit, including the mention of graves requiring crosses, the transfer of the unit to a new base at Noyelle, and attempts to organise the zones of operation of the various ambulance units.
Content NoteIndividuals mentioned in the diary include: Fabian Ware, Mr Penfold, Mr Broadley, Mr Messer, Dr. Kelly, Mr Phibbs, Mr MacDonald, Mr Sawyer, Mr McMullin, Mr Cazalet (Clement Haughton Langston Cazalet), Mr Arbuthnot (Andrew Carmichael Arbuthnot?), Mr Curtin, Mr Venn, Mr D’Ambrumenil, Mr Carlisle, Dr. Braithwaite, Mr Sykes (all members of the mobile unit); General Conneau, General Joffre (French Army), Mr Lionel Holland, Mr Winthorpe-Young (in charge of other mobile Red Cross ambulance units), General Neville Macready, Sir Arthur Sloggett (British Army), Sir Savile Crossley (British Red Cross Commissioner). Locations mentioned in the diary include: Reninghelst, Dunkirk, Vlamertinghe, Poperinghe, Armentieres, London, St. Pol, Elverdinghe, Avesnes, Noyelle, Steenvoorde, Ypres, Furnes, Boulogne, Pernes, St. Omer, Rouen, Hesdin, Aubigny, Arras, Paris.
Date04/12/1914 - 11/12/1914
Extent1 file
Transcription[Note: Pages 3 and 4 of diary have been crossed out, but are still legible and have been transcribed in full]

Friday 4th Dec.
5 cars went to evacuate from
Reninghelst to Dunkirk under Mr
Penfold and carried 33.
3 cars went to Vlamertinghe to
evacuate to Poperinghe and carried 17.
Mr Broadley went to the neighbourhood
of Armentieres and found a large
number of graves requiring crosses.
In the evening Mr Ware returned
from London having previously telegraphed
from London but his despatch was
not received.
He had been completely successful and
brought with him a confirmation
of his appointment as commissioner.
Mr Messer Mr Phibbs and Dr Kelly went
in the Rolls Royce to Aix [?] and saw
Gen Comneau with reference to the unit
accompanying the Cavalry Corps to St. Pol.
Gen Comneau gave them a letter to the
General commanding the 10th [?] whom
they saw at St. Pol, being cordially
welcomed by him.

[Page 2]

[Page 3]

Saturday, 5th Dec

Two cars under Mr MacDonald went to
Vlamertinghe carrying 12 wounded to
Poperinghe by way of Ypres as the
French had closed the direct road
for return traffic to Poperinghe
and the side road direct to
Elverdinghe found impassable.
6 cars went to Reninghelst
carrying 36 to Dunkirk.
Mr Phibbs Dr Kelly and Mr MacDonald
went down to St Pol to consider
quarters near Avesnes. They were most
warmly received and shown excellent
quarters in two villages. In the first
the accommodation for the hospital
was not quite sufficient though the
quarters for the personnel were first
rate. They therefore fixed on Noyelle
a village (blank) kilom south of Avesnes
where a school offered a fair site for
the hospital and two chateaus
were placed at the disposal of the
unit for the staff. The officers
returned to Steenvoorde at 6.30

[Page 4]

Mr Ware and Mr Messer had in the
meantime been to Dunkerque and seen
Mr Lionel Holland in charge of the
ambulances there and Capt. Sallow appointed
by Gen. Joffre to organise
the arrangements for English
ambulances working in the district
from the coast to Ypres. It
appeared that orders had been received
that only the ambulances registered
and authorised by this Capt. were to be
allowed to work in the area and
those of the unit were not so
registered. At first therefore
Capt. Sallow was inclined to say the
unit had no right to be in the
area and complained that he had
already seen five different people.
When however he understood what
the unit was and fully appreciated
the position he became much more
civil. Mr Ware then saw General
commanding the eighth
army and had a fairly

[Page 5]

satisfactory interview, but returned
feeling that the position as
a whole was impossible unless an effort
was made to regularise it. Not
only were some of Mr Hollands cars
actually at Steenvoorde to carry
infectious cases but the whole
line Ypres to Furnes was being
worked by the quarters under Mr Winthorpe
Young and cars were also stationed
at Poperinghe and had been met
by Mr Penfold going to Reninghelst.
Mr Ware at first proposed to write
to Mr Stanley, but it was urged by
Mr Phibbs that he himself should go
to town, and he decided to
do so.
It was also decided that the
unit should stay with the first
cavalry corps and should go
to Noyelle.

[Page 6]

Mr Ware with Mr Messer went to Dunkirk
to find Mr Holland, who was believed to
be in charge of the Red Cross cars at
Dunkirk which had been found by
the unit working at Poperinghe
Steenvoorde and even at Reninghelst.
They found Mr Holland and Captain
who had been appointed by the
French Gen. Joffre to arrange the
work of the ambulance cars from
the sea to the English lines.
He was at first disposed to say that
as he had not previously heard of
the unit it had no right to be
in the district since he had an official
list of the cars with authority to
work in the area. After explanation
he became more civil and Mr Ware
saw the general in command.
Mr Holland was most anxious that every
thing should be arranged
between himself and Mr Ware fully
recognising that the unit as the senior
organisation had claim to first place.

[Page 7]

Mr Ware and Mr Messer both felt however
that the position was impossible and
that an effort must be made to
persuade London to appoint some one
with full authority to negotiate with
the French for the work of English
ambulances in the French lines. The obvious
person to do this was Mr Ware and at
first it was proposed to write to this
effect. But on Mr Phibbs suggestion
it was decided that a personal
visit by Mr Ware to London was
necessary in a matter so vital to the
Mr Phibbs reported that the result of his
inspection of quarters at Noyelle and
the extremely generous manner in
which the French had welcomed him
made it most desirable to move
at once.
It was therefore decided to move
and for Mr Ware to go to London.

[Page 8]

Sunday 6th

Mr Ware left for London calling on Gen
McCready on his way with whom he
had a long and satisfactory interview.
Mr Cazalet left for a weeks leave taking
to Boulogne Mr Arthbuthnot and Curtin [?]

Mr Messer Mr Phibbs and Dr Kelly
left for Boulogne went down again to
Noyelle to complete arrangements for
the move.

Mr Sawyer informed Mr Brooke that he
had already given a weeks notice
to Mr Ware and demanded to go
next day. Mr Brooke said he had
not seen the notice and that to
make it formally correct he had
it ought to have been given to
Boulogne and London but as
Sawyer informed him that stated that
he had made arrangements for
business interviews in London on Tuesday
Mr Brooke arranged for
him to go to Boulogne next day.
During Mr Cazalettes absence Mr MacDonald

[Page 9]

was appointed to act as transport adjutant.

Monday 6th

Mr Penfold with cars went to Reninghelst
informing the medicine in chief that
the cars would not be coming again,
Mr McMullin with two cars doing the
same at Vlamertinghe.

[Page 10]

Monday 7th

The unit moved to Noyelle.
Mr Phibbs with the Vauxhall,
the Mors Lorry and the cooks [?] leaving
at 9 to make arrangements.
Mr Venn with the Ford ambulance
and the other lorries leaving at
10 and the remaining sections
between 10 and 11.
At Pernes the Albion broke its tongue
rod and after transferring some of
the stores had been transferred to
the Rolls Royce ambulance the Albion
was left in a farm yard.
The lorries arrived about 3 and the
Argyle section soon after. The
remainder of the touring cars
owing to the delay in transferring
stores from the Albion and to
the difficulty of keeping a large section
together did not arrive until after
dark. The officers were quartered in
two most comfortable chateaus
and in another in one of which

[Page 11]

the men had had their mess and
some were quartered others being quartered
in the officers chateau. The cooking
arrangements at both places were

[Page 12]

Tuesday 8th

The day was devoted to settling in. In
the morning the sergeant gave a good
talk to the men about their duty
and the work of getting ready was
admirably done. The mud was cleared
off the road to allow the cars to
stand where the men could
easily work and the stores were unpacked.
The hospital was installed in the
school which made a fair locale.
Mr D’Ambrumenil went with
Barkfield [?] back to Pernes to repair the
In the morning Mr Ware returned
having missed Mr Stanley in town
and come straight back by Monday
morning boat missing him again
at Boulogne. He found that
both Sir Savile Crossley and
Mr Wake were retiring and that
Sr Arthur Sloggett was appointed
chief commissioner as well as
D.M.S. in France. At first

[Page 13]

Sir Arthur Sloggett said he intended to
stop all work with the French. Mr Ware
however saw him again and went
with him to St Omer where he
slept Monday night. Sir Arthur
explained that there were to be
only two commissioners under him
Whitelys manager and Mr Ware.
Mr Ware wished to remain working this
unit at the front and Sir Arthur
agreed asking him to send
Mr [?] [blank] to St Omer on Thursday to
arrange a meeting at which the
whole question of working for the
French could be settled.
In the morning a route march was
made. Mr Messer in command
setting a rapid pace which
benefitted everyone.
Mr Carlisle went to Paris with both
the Rolls Royce cars taking with
him the radiator of the Daimler
Mr Arbuthnot went in his ambulance
to Rouen.
The Doctor General of the 1er Cavy Corps
made a visit of inspection.

[Page 14]

Wednesday 9th

Mr Ware who was very overtired stayed
in bed in the morning.
Mr Penfold went over to Aubigny
to visit the mess with whom he had
stayed when the unit was in Hesdin and found that the doctor
there was anxious to have cars
to go to ? and evacuate
bring in 260 wounded. Mr MacMullen
therefore started directly after
lunch with 12 cars. The
Mdecine en chief at Aubigny
sent two doctors to guide them and
the cars went to which is
a poste de savour far in advance
of the line artillery and 600
metres from the German trenches.
It was found however that
a French convoy had already
evacuated the wounded so
the journey proved fruitless.
In the afternoon the Director General
of [?] Corps de Sante of the 10th army
called on Mr Ware and had a long

[Page 15]

talk which proved quite satisfactory.
He explained that the 10th Army
consisted of three army corps 10th, 33rd
and 21st. The Director General
is at Hesdin and the
work at Aubigny being 33rd corps
is under him. The director
said that if this unit went under the
general of the army he would want
to keep it at the rear.
In the evening Mr Arbuthnot returned
from Rouen bringing with him the
F.I.A.T. car and its chauffeur

[Page 16]

Thursday 10th

In the morning Mr MacDonald & Mr
Arbuthnot went in the Delauney to
Boulogne to try and get those stores
which had from time to time been
requested and had not been
Mr Ware discussed the proposals he intended
to make to Sir Arthur Sloggett and in
the afternoon went to Avesnes
to call on the Inspector
General du Service Sanitaire and
further discussed the question of
a priest being lent to the
hospital and Mr Ware succeeding
in postponing the question
until wounded were actually in
Late in the evening Mr MacDonald
and Mr Arbuthnot returned from
Boulogne together with Dr. Braithwaithe
and Mr Sykes from England.
He had succeeded in attaining a certain
amount of stores.

[Page 17]

Friday 11th

Mr Ware left at 7.45 to see Sir Arthur Sloggett at
St. Omer.
The men went a route march.
Mr MacDonald went to Boulogne to bring
some of the stores which he had been
unable to carry on the previous day.
A French doctor from the 21 Infantry one
Division of the 10th Army Corps stationed
near Arras called ostensibly to ask if
his general could be of any assistance
but probably really to satisfy himself as
to our credentials. Mr Messer saw him and
told him we were attached to Gen.
Comneau’s Corps.
In the evening Mr MacDonald returned
from Boulogne having lost one ambulance
near Hesdin. He brought with him the
mail [?] and a letter from Mr Ware who had
proceeded from St. Omer to Boulogne
and England.
Mr Carlisle returned from Paris with the Rolls Royce
ambulance and car. Mr Penfold said he wished to
leave for England. Mr Messer asked him to wait
for Mr Ware, but as Mr Ware had already gone to England,
consented to Mr Penfold leaving.

[Page 18]

An outpatient arriving at the hospital was
found to be suffering from enteric and another
case was discovered in a very billeted in
a neighbouring house. Both were French soldiers
and in the absence of Mr Messer who had
gone to Avesnes and Aubigny both the
two cases were sent off to Aubigny
in Argyle II. Mr Messer returned after
lunch having see the Medicin in chief
at Aubigny.
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