His Diary





Gilbert’s 1915 diary contained first a few personal details, then some pre-printed standard items, but primarily provides an unemotional summary of his life until a few days before his death.





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the front cover Gilbert notes:

“In case of accident communicate with Mrs G Todhunter, 7 Etterby Road, Carlisle Eng”. (This is Harriet’s address while staying in England with Lizzie in Carlisle).

He then adds his name & army unit, “Winnipeg Light Infantry, Canadian Exp (Expeditionary) Forces”.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the next page he lists his:

  • “Hat size – 6 5/8
  • Collar size – 14 1/2″
  • Shirt size – 14 1/2″
  • Shoe size – 7 1/2
  • Life insurance due – August”




[The following printed pages – not shown here – include such standard items as Postal Regulations, Moveable Holidays 1900-1920, Multiplication Tables, and the Jewish Calendar. There is then an extract from the Boots Cash Chemists (Eastern) Ltd Annual General Meeting 20/06/14 (reproduced from te Financial Times), with a statement about the payment of preferred shares & quarterly dividends, with an application form for notification about share offers, and a set of figures from Boots’ audited balance sheet. Following this is a list of the population of the world’s largest towns at the time, a Wages or Income Table, a table of Lighting-up times, a list of Motor Vehicle Registration Marks, and a Calendar for 1915. The back of the diary also lists the adddresses of Boots’ principal branches].


On the first Memoranda page after the 1915 calendar, he notes some details about his pay, first in Canadian dollars then in Sterling:

“Paid at V????? up to Sept 22nd ’14 from Sept 22nd to Dec 31st = 100 days @ $2.60 per day = $260.00”
“full amount received $250 leaving $10.00 to pay on exchange”
“received Feb 14th ’15 £16-2-6, short (8/9)”




On the following two Memoranda pages, we have some addresses of significance to Gilbert:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Paymaster 11th Capt T Kirkby, Sub record Office, Wellington House, Bourne Avenue, Salisbury”
“wrote Jan 19th 15” – then deleted
“Mrs Pape, 34 Cotswold St, Kensington Eng”
“Capt H.S.Cooper
” ” Spindler
2nd 1th Battn”
“Wife. Mrs Gilbert Todhunter (Mother, Sister)
7 Etterby Road Carlisle”
“Brother Sapper J.W.Todhunter, No,. 47705 R.E., Postal Section, Mount Pleasant, London EC”
“92 S????? Euston Rd, London NE”
“J.B.Owen, 14 Cameron St, Barrow-in Furness”

(Mrs Pape’s “Kensington” address is not London but Liverpool, where it is believed Gilbert stayed while consulting the specialist about his broken arm, and while having his sword made).


The final Memoranda page in the front of the diary includes some more pay records:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Oct 14th ’14 to Jan 14th ’15 = 92 days @ 1.50 per day = $138.00 subsistence allowance whilst on sick leave”.





There is also a Memoranda page at the back of the diary, where he noted:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


“Jan Mess purchases –
15th – 3 cigars
20th – 2 draught ale 1 ginger beer & 1 port
21st – 1 whisky 3 ales 1 ginger beer
22nd – 5 stouts, 1 ginger beer”



Above the first proper diary entries he notes: ” wrote to J.W B???? re wife. Mrs received $20 Nov money from Aggie – wrote her regarding Oct money. Harriet’s second day downstairs”

Now the diary proper starts:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

January 1915
1st – “still at home” (New Years Day); at home (Carlisle) for New Year, baby Eileen having been born just before Christmas.
2nd – “ditto”





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3rd-9th – “Home”… Footnote – “(Note: received orders to report to Maj Hamilton DAAG as soon as possible)

(this page shows “Passed by Censor ” stamps, which may account for the straight factual & unemotional nature of Gilbert’s entries)





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10th – “got orders”
11th – “packing up
12th – “left Carlisle 1 am, arrived …8.30, Salisbury 4.30 pm, Amesbury 6.30 pm, arrived Bustard 8.00 pm Travelled to Salisbury Plain for training
13th – “arrived 4th Bde 10.30 am, reported to Col Cohen & then reported to Col Bennett. Went to Netheravon & was passed by Medical Board. Saw Cooper etc
14th – “Attached to A Coy. 11th Battalion Saw Cooper & Col. Baddell. Went to Bustard about subsistence allowance. Told paymaster would draw it .Wrote letter home to wife”
15th – “Range all day with battalion got in some pistol practice. Had good dance. Bought 3 cigars”
16th – kit inspection…letter” (+ memo: “wrote to wife 14th“)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA17th – “moved into Canadian barracks at Tidworth Saw E.G.Scott & 10th …wrote to mother
18th – “company route march, sent letter card home. Wrote letter to Col.Bennett
19th – “barrack room inspection
20th – “parades; took A Coy on 2nd parade
21th –  “company full up with reg’t duties, no parade for me, received Harriet’s letter saying she received £24-12-1. Jack McDermid stoked the fire
22th – “received cake & clothes from home, usual barrack duties”
23th – “usual barrack duties”




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA24th – “proceeded to guard West Down South & West Down North, 20 men with me”
25th –  “inspected, posted & visited guards night & day”
26th – “ditto – also went to Devizes & stayed overnight in Bear Hotel, went to pictures”
27th – “returned to camp, usual guard duties”
28th – “sent report to Tidworth re dirty condition of camp & wrote to wife & mother”
29th – “made usual rounds, received letter from wife”
30th – “usual guard duties”




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA31st – “cleared camp & packed 12/4/5, received news of none relief 6pm”

February 1915
1st – “sentries reported hearing 6 shots fired @ 11.50 pm Sunday –investigated & found CASE men” using revolvers which they had just bought
2nd – “expecting relief which arrived 5pm – we did night duties & handed over
3rd – “sent in report to PM 8 am. Handed over West Down north guard
4th – “took platoon …in afternoon
5th – “another draft left the battalion, wrote to Capt Anderson about buy & sell allowance
6th – “no early parades – division move to France; cancelled”



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7th – “reveille 5.00 am, marched from Tidworth to Lark Hill with drafts for 5th & 7th battalion
8th – “commenced Capt. Collins’ course, turns marching saluting, excused early morning parade”
9th – “course of instruction- musketing, rifle drill, bayonet fighting; platoon duties
10th – “course & bayonet fighting – division moved
11th – “course on bayonet fighting, platoon duties
12th – “ditto
13th – “lectures”




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA14th – “received £16-2s-6d Jan pay, check & record no. 3509, Bank of Montreal London” (Gilbert had a Bank of Montreal (London) cheque book).
15th – “class
16th – “class – musketing lecture at night”
17-19th – “class & company work






OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20th – “went on leave. Received wire – mother very sick”
21st-23rd – “leave Went back to Carlisle to see sick mother.
24th – “wrote to Capt Cooper, returned to mess outfitting men for draft”
25th – “outfitting draft etc
26th – “court marshal instructional”
27th – “draft”





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA28th – “took draft over to Lucknow barracks

March 1915
1st – “commenced instructing 10th Battalion Base Coy
2nd-3rd – “instructing at base, 2 …
4th-6th – “Instructing at base”






8th-9th – “base instructional”
10th – “laid abed feeling pretty sick”
11th – “returned to duty at base
12th – “duty at base, 10th battalion Coy, wife went to Sedbergh, rec’d wire
13th – “Duty at base”





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA14th – “had an evening at Andover, an old town some 8 miles from Tidworth
15th-17th – “instructing at base, wrote Maj Thorn pay dept, about sub allowance”
18th-19th – “duty at base
20th – “fixed up web equipment ready to move”






OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA21st – “draft away Lt Graham with it gone to 7th Battalion; had good cycle ride
22nd – “base details no lecture
23rd – “base details, lecture at night”
24th – “parades all day, lecture at night”
25th – “work at base, no lecture, paid mess a/c £5-14-7”
26th – “moved to Shorncliffe arrived 3.30pm in huts”
27th – “Shorncliffe & Cheriton, secured rooms, spent afternoon & evening in Follkestone”




2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA8th – “church in morning & had long walk in afternoon visited Sandygate Hythe
29th – “G.O.C.’s inspection with 11th Battalion, with base details in afternoon, lecture at night
30th – “base details
31st – “base, went to training area, afternoon went home… Left Euston 8.50 arrived Carlisle 6.00 am

April 1915
1st – “Arrived home 6.30 am. Took wife to theatre & bought 2 prs boots from Co-op”
2nd – “home all day (Good Friday)
3rd – “took wife down town Carlisle theatre ….”


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4th -” took Communion with Jack (Easter Sunday)
5th – “attended Lizzie’s wedding etc, set Jack off on train am
6th – “left home taxi late had to rush for 8.30 am train for Shorncliffe arrived 10.00 pm. Living out of barracks
7th – “had walk to Cheriton etc
8th – “returned to duty at base 9 am to 12.45, 2pm to 5 pm”
9th – “base – had walk with wife at night.
10th – “base to 12.30, went to Folkestone in afternoon. Boots & ring arrived from Carlisle”




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA11th-17th – “duty at base”







OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA18th – “at home (???)”
19th-20th – “duty at base
21st – “appointed O.C.10th battalion
22th – “field practice Hythe, ranges 10th base
23rd – “duty at base”
24th – “duty at base. Warned for draft 10.45 pm, returned to barracks & ready to move at 12.00 noon”




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA25th – “sticking around barracks
26th – “work at base, draft moved at 6pm, arrived aboard 11pm. Received miniature of wife Sailed for France, arrived at war zone”
27th – “arrived Boulogne 1am, camp at 4. Up at 6 again & left on firing line at 5.30pm
28th – “heard first gun 4.30 am. At Havermille under shell fire all day. Went up to trenches”
29th – “reconnoitering for brigade …captured spies who strung upon…” 
30th – visited divisional HQ nearly got shell ..great fire”

May 1915
1st – “under heavy shell fire , strung wires meanwhile”


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2nd – “fierce battle in progress, heavy artillery fire …
3rd – …”canal, still fighting. Received cheque from Pay & Records office- sub. Allowance £25-2-0″
4th – “still at the …heavy shell fire …came into dressing station & asked for …
5th – “still under heavy shell fire, left trenches walked 20 miles
6th – “arrived 5 miles heard …Generals Smith, Doreen & Curry
7th – “muster parade, heard praise from staff
8th – “made map of billeting area”




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9th – “parade at 8am for Inspection by Generals Curry & Alderson”
10th – ” …& visual signalling practice”
11th – “…& visual practice”
12th – “bathe & …work, holiday work”
13th – “…indoor work”
14th – “went march …HQs moved out of billets 7pm”
15th – “arrived new billets 2.30 am”




 There were no further entries before Gilbert was killed on 20th May 1915.