Extracts from James Edward Reid’s diary – 2/4/1918-28/6/1918

James spent more than 12 weeks convalescing at Cross Oak and the following extracts from his diary give a flavour of his time there:

Week one

Belt on late. Talked intimately with Sister Grant and received photo etc. Afternoon in motor brake to Crossoak. A nice place apparently but still fed up. Met Nairn from No 19.
3/4/18Walks all day – round garden morning, into town and back later, and afternoon to Common. Met Webster, Leckie and Green in car and came back with them. Met Carey R J in Berkhamsted.
4/4/18Saw surgeon after lunch, abolished belt. Coughing blood again a bit – over did things yesterday. Indoors all day, wrote letters, played chess.
7/4/18Showery. Walked with Major Stubbs through woods to church at Ashley Green. Met Mrs Dorrien Smith. Afternoon walk with Sister Maud by Johnstone Farm and Marlins Chapel Farm. Back just in time.
8/4/18A glorious day for weather. Morning writing. Afternoon walked into town with Dodds, and played chess on return. Hair cut. After tea in again.

Week two

9/4/18Very wet and misty all day. Billiards morning, afternoon to Berkhamsted, photo taken, executed various odd jobs. Later chess with Leckie. Wrote W(ar) O(ffice) re wings.
12/4/18A fine day at last. Morning snooker and then with Blood Smyth to town to get voucher. Afternoon more snooker then walk with Dodds by Ashlyn to Berkhamsted Castle and back. Tried to get record “Très Moutarde”. No go.
13/4/18Misty again but no rain. Morning snooker again. Afternoon walk 6½ miles to Hawridge Camp by Marlin Chapel, and back by Flamstead Farm. Concert this evening YMCA. War news rotten, Merville captured.
14/4/18To church at Northchurch morning with Major Stubbs. Very cold NE wind. Afternoon drove with Leckie and Webster to Champneys, lunch with Mr Marc. Very nice. Evening reading and writing.
15/4/18Another wet day. Corset being mended, and not allowed out, but went down to Berkhamsted. Played snooker and won. Afternoon and evening writing and reading.

Week three

16/4/18Heavy snowfall last night, continuing morning. Temperature high and later changed to rain, everything very wet and slushy. Walked to Northchurch and then the town and back on errands. Morning tipped all billiard cues with Webster, evening snooker again.
17/4/18Wet again, snow nearly all gone. Morning with Leckie in taxi to dentist – appointment for Friday, 11.45. Executed odd commissions, ten minutes Mechanics Institute. After lunch more snooker, and down to town again. Evening with others to concert, or most of them. Decided to come up to London tomorrow with Dodds (board) Webster and Dowling (to see Sherran).
18/4/18A dubious kind of day. Up to town by 10.44, and home, reaching a little before 1pm. Mother just off to Mrs Johansens funeral, but stayed back. Talked until after tea, then up to PMG’s office with Mother, saw D(ad) and on to Euston. Arrived Crossoak 7.20, found telegram from Joan (Grant), asking me to come up tomorrow.
19/4/18Up to London again by 10.44 with Dodds, who disappeared at Euston. Met Joan, walked in Regents Park, lunch at Selfridges. After to cinema theatre near Marble Arch. Tea at Selfridges again. Walked to Euston, missed 6.5 but caught 6.35 back.
21/4/18Very heavy snowfall. To church morning with Mrs Janion and Webster in a taxi. Letter from Joan, answered evening. Applied petrol licence. Walk along Herts and Bucks border afternoon, very slushy. Evening reading and writing.

Week four

23/4/18Letter from Joan morning, went to London 10.44, met her. Walk and lunch in Bond Street, afternoon went home, tea, and caught 6.5 back. Very frowsty ride back.
24/4/18A very fine day. Alteration of corset. Morning in taxi to town, shampoo, and then teeth seen to at dentists. Afternoon short walk to Grims Dyke and back to early tea. Evening sent to see Dr Bontor but not in. Had half an hour in Mechanics Institute. Saw Miss Chambers. After dinner, all in two taxis to Inns of Court concert. Very good.
25/4/18Another fine day. To Dr Bontor after breakfast, prescribed various exercises etc. Afternoon, walk to Berkhamsted, Swinggate Late to Bottom Farm and back through Ashlyn Park. Carey to tea. Strolled in garden after tea and talked, then with him to OTC headquarters. Evening tried to write.
26/4/18Another letter from Joan, going home tonight, suggest to meeting and breaking journey. Went to Euston 10.44, spent afternoon together. Bought rings. Caught 5.30 from Euston – did not stop Berkhamsted. Changed at Leighton Buzzard and caught 7.5 back from there, arriving about 8. After dinner wrote home and to petrol committee.
27/4/18Fine day again. Did nothing morning, afternoon walked to ancient camps by Ashley Green. Back at 4.30, but found tea at 4. Had some anyway. After tea wrote to Joan. Dinner early, 6.30, and then to YMCA concert. Quite good. Rode back on roof of taxi.
28/4/18Weather dubious and showery. Went to church morning at Berkhamsted in taxi. Afternoon short walk and run. Lots of Mrs Janion’s visitors for tea, afterwards had to play billiards until supper. Arrival of Webster’s parents. Tried to write after supper; not much good. Doing the physical exercises – think they are good.

Week five

30/4/18Caught 11.49 to Bletchley, lunch, 1.8 to Rugby, and 2.30 to Marton. Met Joan in cab and rode to Southam. Looked at Church. Spent afternoon with Joan and Mrs Grant, and had tea. Evening caught 7.10 from Southam and Long Itchington, 7.47 from Weedon, and left Bletchley 9.15. Arrived Berkhamsted 9.57 and Crossoak about 10.20. A delightful day.
1/5/18Reading all morning. Afternoon to Patten End and along Grims Dyke to Berkhamsted. Granted two gallons a month for two months by petrol control. Evening stayed at home and wrote letters – others all to OTC concert.
4/5/18A doubtful morning but very fine afternoon and evening. Received petrol vouchers. Morning exercises and wrote home. Afternoon walk to common beyond Northchurch. Took photos. Very warm walking. Tea outside, more photos. After tea developed. Evening early dinner and to YMCA concert. Very good indeed.
5/5/18A miserable day of weather – mist and drizzle all day. Morning to parish church in taxi, then to lunch at Champneys. Very nice there – much wool winding. Back to tea. Two old patients, Dunbell and Wills here. Like the latter very much. After tea posted photographs, also cheque to A&CG. After dinner tried to read.

Week six

Up to Charing Cross with father, and to Euston. Telephoned to Jarvian (?), then caught 10.50 to Berkhamsted, and walked up. Afternoon Dr Mahon to tea – walked down to town later with him. Evening sent off photos and talked.
8/5/18Fine again. Up by 11.49 to Rugby via Bletchley, met Joan 2.15pm. Sat in park, talked and had tea in town. Rugby very quiet indeed, especially as early closing day. Came back by 5.3 from Rugby, Joan with me to Weedon. Arrived Crossoak about 8pm. Letters from Wills (Graves Registration), and home.
10/5/18Fine day again. Photo printing and fixing morning, and started lawn mowing. Afternoon continued mowing with Sister Maud.
11/5/18Fine day again, though not so warm as yesterday. Mowing the terrace and clipping the banks both morning and afternoon. Evening reading.
12/5/18Up at 7am. Weather showery. Caught 8.8 and arrived home 10.30. Had lunch at home. Hughie upon his Rudge. After lunch rode out to Berkhamsted via Wandsworth, Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush, Willesden, Wembley, Watford. Afternoon very fine. Arrived about 4pm. After tea wrote letter and after supper read newspapers.

Week seven

14/5/18Still showery. Writing and doing odd jobs morning, afternoon walk through Rossway Park and Hawridge Rectory to Oak Farm, Ashley Green and back. After tea, read. Leckie and Webster upset at bridge by major.
16/5/18Very hot day. Rode Webster’s cycle down to Southey’s morning, bought oddments and walked back. Read until lunch. Only four of us left altogether, others all up for boards etc. Afternoon fitted rear spring to cycle and cleaned it. Wrote letters after tea; walked down to post them, and up in taxi. After dinner more letters.
17/5/18Did nothing morning. Afternoon tried my hand with a scythe – not an expert. Heavy thunderstorm after tea, with rain. Read. After dinner, walk for half an hour or so.
18/5/18Fine. Morning rode with Webster to Aldbury, where he punctured badly and left his bicycle. Carried him back – an exciting ride. Afternoon took W(ebster) again to Aldbury, went into Berkhamsted for new tube, took it back to him, and rode back. Evening YMCA concert – most items good, but “funny man” loathsome.
19/5/18To OTC service in parish church. Communion, so did not stay whole time. Padre quite good. Walked back, wrote letters, then in car to Champneys for lunch, and stayed to tea. After lunch played croquet – not a bad game. More writing until supper,; afterwards walk into Berkhamsted with Canada and B(lood) S(mith) to post letters and obtain glove at police station, left at Aldbury yesterday.

Week eight

21/5/18Beautiful day. Left by 11.49 for Rugby and Southam, afternoon with Joan. Walked to Holy Well and Thorpe, very nice indeed. Returned 7.1 from Southam, back Crossoak about 10.15. Heard ride to Chigwell no go, as sidecar will not fit. Hooray!
24/5/18Another threatening kind of day. Walked to town morning via Kitsbury to buy toothbrush etc, back with Green in taxi. Afternoon walk to Marlins Chapel Farm, Ashley Green, White Hill and Bottom Farm. After tea sewed strap, and talked with Sister Mildred; later gave Webster a hand. Evening letter-writing. Leckie took flashlight photo.
25/5/18Morning drove Mrs Jamion for shopping in town until lunch. Afternoon rode over to Luton, walk with Joan, back 4.40. Tea and croquet. Early dinner and then to concert, quite good. Walked back.
26/5/18Morning went to OTC service in church, fetching letters first. Rest of morning reading. Afternoon mowed terrace, very warm work, then in taxi to Schoolhouse for tea. Great crowd and war tea. To service in school chapel after. Very gloomy sermon. Evening wrote to Needell.
27/5/18Phone message from Joan early morning, asking me to come over afternoon. Walked into town and back. Afternoon tried to start for Luton on my bike – would not start, so borrowed Webster’s. Met Joan, rode into Harpenden. Tea and sat on common. Rode back to Luton and met Sister Carmichael. Back to Crossoak a few minutes late for dinner. After dinner wrote home.

Week nine

28/5/18Read papers and tinkered with motorbike. Found piston smashed, repair by myself hopeless. Afternoon learning part in “Chiselling” and took bicycle down to Southeys. Started Webster half a dozen times. Wrote Joan after tea, walked with Dowling to post. Evening more part-learning.
29/5/18Morning waited for Sister Maud – eventually done 12.45. Afternoon mowed tennis lawn, then over to Champneys in taxi for rehearsals. Not bad. Tea there, and more rehearsals. Capt. Kitchener on aeroplane landed in park. Webster and Leckie both on one bicycle, fell off starting. Walked back – Leckie in dog cart, Webster riding.
30/5/18Bicycle arrived. Pumped up tyres, changed valve rubbers etc. Down to town in taxi, walked up. Afternoon rode to Hemel Hempstead, caught 2.42 to Harpenden. Arrived 3.10, rode to Luton Hoo. Everybody down at lake. Tea with Joan. Miss Price’s nurse telling fortunes in teacups. Saw Major Heron, Green and all sisters except Matron. Rode with Joan to Harpenden, and caught 7.25 back. Arrived Crossoak about 8.20, very hot.
1/6/18Morning intended to mow terrace, but cleaned bicycle instead. Also patched back tyre with result that it now subsides ungracefully in about half an hour. Afternoon drove in trap to Champneys for rehearsal. Miss Hunt not playing, part taken by Miss Probert. Rotten these alterations. Walked to town, sent home parcel and after dinner to YMCA concert. Good but very hot and stuffy. Drove taxi back myself.
2/6/18To OTC service morning, all walked back. Rest of morning reading. Afternoon to Champneys again for lunch, met Lord Kitchener, Col Kenny and others. Back in car. Tea. Wrote letters and walked to post them. After supper, reading and writing.
3/6/18Morning drove taxi down to OTC HQ and station, back to White Hart. Later worked on bicycle. Afternoon continued work on bicycle but did not finish. Then in trap to Champneys for rehearsals and tea. Show going not badly. Evening after dinner completed bicycle except for adjustments.

Week ten

4/6/18Morning reading, and finished bicycle. Afterwards mowed terrace with help of Marjory, and then to Champneys for dress rehearsal after tea. This before staff went very well. Drove taxi back evening. After dinner, arrival of Joan and Miss Carmichael on bicycles. Rode back with them to Rotten End or a little more.
5/6/18Morning getting ready. All over to Champneys after lunch, I on bicycle. Fine day, and fete a great success. Aeroplane stunts. One performance of show afternoon, very good, then tea and another outside 6.30. Out of doors very difficult, but hope all right. Stayed to supper, and played slosh after. (From other mentions in the diary, Splosh appears to have been an indoor game played, perhaps with cards, with one or two others. I’ve been unable to find more details).
6/6/18Down to town morning driving taxi. After lunch, busy preparing drawing room for tonight’s show. Wrote letters and programmes until dinner, gave last performance after. Went better than ever as howling success, then bed.
8/6/18Morning drove Mrs Jamion and Major Chesney to Tring Station and back to Berkhamsted to see Food Controller and do shopping. Afternoon cycled to Hemel Hempstead, train to Harpenden, met Joan and cycled to Luton. After, rode back to Berkhamsted, arriving 5.30, time from Gibraltar Gates 72 mins (12 miles). Evening others to YMCA concert, afterwards reported very good. Stayed and played splosh with Green, and then read.
9/6/18OTC service morning, back and read newspapers until lunch. Afternoon walked to Chesham with note from Sister to Lowndes at Bury by paths, and back by road. Found them out, and late for tea. After tea more reading, and after supper talking. Also mended pocketbook.
10/6/18Morning did nothing at all. Afternoon rode to Hemel Hempstead and met Joan. Back to tea by Swing Gate Lane and Ashlyns. Showed her garden etc. Evening too late to cycle, went by taxi to H(emel) H(empstead).

Week eleven

12/6/18A fine warm day again. Morning and afternoon clipping bank, after tea on bicycle to meet Joan. Met at Cheverels Green, had a talk, and returned; back late, dinner being early. Evening wrote home and then bath and early to bed.
13/6/18More bank clipping. Discussed going over to Luton with Leckie and Webster, but fell through. Afternoon finished clipping bank and wheeled all grass off. Mrs Jamion’s grandson catching butterflies and anything else. After tea showed sisters walk on map, then rode to meet Joan. Burst back tyre, but repaired, and met near same place as yesterday. Back just late for dinner. After bath and to bed early.
14/6/18Drove Mrs J(amion) in trap shopping in Berkhamsted, and picked up Mr Smith at station. The rain at last, but only a drizzle, lasting until after tea. Afternoon, walk beyond Champneys and back, also helped Webster with motorcycle valves. Evening wrote letters and played splosh and won. Letter from home, and Matron.
15/6/18Walked into town, and obtained railway vouchers etc. Wandered round, coffee with Green, and walked back. Mrs J(amion) in the garden cart. Afternoon, cut some sorrel with sickle. Nurse from Liverpool Merchants Hospital on leave to see Leckie. After teas, started to learn tennis. Evening busy preparing for tomorrow.
16/6/18A fine bright morning with rain afternoon. Breakfast in bed at 7am, caught 8.8am, and arrived home via Euston, Charing Cross and Victoria 10.30. Carried bag with can of petrol, oil, tools etc. Very heavy. Enjoyed day at home. Mme Bogaerde over afternoon. Left 5.30, and arrived Berkhamsted 7.30. Walked up with old OTC officer. Evening reading.
17/6/18Footling round morning, reading, writing and watching billiards. Telephone message from Sister Agnes to prepare us all to be turned out, not to go any of her places. A nuisance but my board is in a week’s time anyway. Afternoon more billiards and later four of us in taxi to Luton Hoo to tea. My driving rather a failure on hills. Very pleasant there – saw everybody, obtained “Très Moutarde” and arrived back about 7.15. Mrs Jamions birthday – peaches and strawberries and port for dinner.

Week twelve

18/6/18Hanging about for Sister Maud. Major Chesney off – after exercises, rode to town with Mrs Jamion. Special piston rings being obtained for motorbike. Afternoon rode towards Luton and met Joan. Some time in woods, then to Flamstead for tea. Looked over church – very old and quaint. Rode back in rain, arriving about 7.15. Evening taught to play “Hearts” and “Bridge”.
19/6/18Walked into town morning, bought book for Winnie etc. Afternoon down in taxi with Marlowe, sent off book and walked towards Patters End. Met motor brake from Luton Hoo with Green, Wheatley and others, and had lift back. After tea down again in cab with Cranfield, bought cigarettes etc for Major Vasey and walked back. Caught in rain. Evening wrote letters after telephoning Joan. Apparently no need for extraordinary hurry about our moves after all.
20/6/18Walked into town, tried to buy maths tables for Jack, got new jacket. Cleaned and adjusted bicycle until lunch. After lunch finished bike cleaning, brushed and packed overalls and new jacket. Down in taxi to town with Leckie and Webster, sent parcel home, and walked up. After tea rode to meet Joan on Webster’s bicycle. Met at Cheverells Green, had an hour together. Back at 7.30. After dinner played splosh and was badly beaten.
22/6/18Drove Mrs J into town in trap morning, did exercises on return with Sister Maud. Afternoon took photos, watched billiards, then all down to town in taxi for haircut etc and back to tea. Puncture on way. After tea cleaned old gramophone records with paraffin. Evening all others to concert; went for a walk, read a little, bath and bed.
23/6/18Walked to church, military service, with the two sisters, others in taxi. After service walked back meeting many acquaintances of sisters on way. Read until lunch; afternoon played golf croquet and took photographs, then mowed terrace again. Avro came down in Kingshill field across the road, officers in it visiting Dorrien Smiths. After tea read, and one letter, after supper wrote more. Leckie’s father here for a visit.
24/6/18A wet day, morning stayed in and wrote late. Afternoon cleared up to a very fine day – walked down to town with Dalton to buy odd things, fetch mail etc. At tea, told my board to be at 9 on Wednesday. Have to catch train up 8.50 and back 4.55. And the result is to be my going home. After tea, rode to meet Joan, took photos and got back just in nice time. After dinner played cards.

Week thirteen

25/6/18Walked into town, and footled round until lunch – back with others in Victoria, back axle of Ford being broken. Afternoon billiards, and developed two films – after tea more billiards. Cards evening, but to bed fairly early ready for tomorrow.
26/6/18 LondonUp early, breakfast at 8am, and caught 8.49 to town. Walked from Euston via Russell Square to Haymarket booked seats for Leckie, taxi to King Edward VII Hospital. Saw Sisters Hartricke and Goodall. Boarded; 3 weeks leave, and “C1”. Lunch with father, strolled along Oxford Street to Euston. Tea there, and up to Berkhamsted by 4.55 train. Phoned to Joan – out, but got Mike. Rung up at dinner. Staying here until Friday. (1914 medical classifications:
C – Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service in garrisons at home.
C1 – Able to march 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses, and hear well)
Usual early morning with addition of printing out many photos and later fixing them. Had a short game of billiards with Webster. Nicholson from London Scottish to lunch with his father. Afternoon cycled out, and met Joan on hill by Waterend. Rode back to Luton Hoo via Flamsted, taking photos etc. Left 4.30 and rode back – two beastly punctures. Left bicycle at station to be sent home. Evening played splosh with Chiltern and Wheatley.
28/6/18 LondonLast day at Crossoak. Up as usual, packed and left by taxi 12.30 to catch 12.46 train with Blood Smith. Last time on gramophone “Très Moutarde”. Invited with Joan to fête at Haresfoot next Wednesday. Arrived home about 3pm, footled round rest of day.