The Diary of William Andrew White, 1917
William Andrew White. Diary of William Andrew White, 1917. Black ink on white paper, 383 pages. Hardcover-bound diary. ©Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.1 ©Transcription MLC Research Centre. blt/ig
White’s 1917 diary consists of a ledger with a black leather cover and the year 1917 stamped in gold. At the top of each page, the month, date, and day are printed in French, alongside the numerical day of the year and days remaining, with 276-89, for example, corresponding to 3 October 1917. The diary marks the names of saints and religious days of observation in French, a reminder that White was an army chaplain in France and likely purchased the diary there. The first 161 pages are blank and the first entry begins on 28 June 1917. In this first entry, White addresses his wife, Izie Dora, as if expecting her to read the diary in case of his death. Another 94 pages are left blank between this entry and the next on 3 October 1917, after which White begins to make more regular entries.
Thursday, 28 June 1917
Izie,3 I miss the kids. They must be growing so much. I know they miss me.
Wednesday, 3 October 1917
Received my book today. Moved into the new quarters for officers.4 Johnson and Allen were sent away to prison today. Cloudy – looks like rain.
Thursday, 4 October 1917
S. François d’A.
Arose early and got dressed and went to Marnay to visit Mmes De Giger and Mayer. Had a pleasant day and met some ladies from Paris. Walked from Mouchard to Marnay.5
Paid mess bill 10 francs. Expected to see MlleDole but did not.
Friday, 5 October 1917
Rainy day. Getting settled in new quarters.
Saturday, 6 October 1917
Went to Pontarlier6 and bought rug, curtain, table-cloth for my room. The day was very cold. The people said it had snowed the night before. Bought a dress for Izie and mailed it from Pontarlier.
Had dinner at Hotel de la Poste. Was invited to afternoon tea with Mme & Mlles Thomas. Met Mme Parrod and enjoyed talking to her very much.
Received two French letters but none from home.
Some American and Canadian mail came, dates as late as Sept 15; so ours will be here.
Sunday, 7 October 1917
Thanksgiving Sunday. Preached Thanksgiving ceremony at La Joux7 and Glaciere Hill. We should be thankful for
1. The bountiful harvest. 2. Divine help. 3. Home. 4. Hope. 5. Heaven.
Visitors were here from Salins to attend the concert to benefit Group Hospital. I attended the concert with Mme De Giger. It is interesting to hear her talk English.
Got letter from Izie tonight. All are well.
Clear in the morning but rain at night. The winter is setting in.
Monday, 8 October 1917
Monday, the aftermath of Sunday. Rain, O how it did rain!
Received several letters Prof. Lapalus, Mlles Dubied, Dole, Leben, Mrs. White, Pte. Roache.
The Concert for benefit of Group Hospital had the last performance. The colored boys voted 500 francs but declined to go. If they were not good enough to go when others went they would not take the leavings. Officers sympathetic.
Tuesday, 9 October 1917
S. Denis, év.
Wrote letters to Izie, Mlle Dubied, Prof. Lapalus, Mrs. Fred Borden.
The rain is depressing. I feel lonely.
Would like a letter from Dr. King or somebody who would cheer me up.
Rec’d letters from Izie, Rev. Logan, Miss Jackson.
Roof leaking – had to pull my head under cover like a turtle.
Wednesday, 10 October 1917
S. François B.
Still it rains!
Received box from Izie with two nice shirt [sic] in it.
Wrote to Izie, Jennie Leben, Rev. Logan
Thursday, 11 October 1917
Woke up to see the snow coming down in heavy flakes. O the memories of home.
Wrote Izie, Mlle Wilford, Miss Jackson, Pte. Roach, Bro. Milton, Mme Levy.
Col. Johnson woke things up around the camp a little.
Rec’d letters from Izie, and Mrs. Frank Paris.
Friday, 12 October 1917
The Lord reigneth, let the Earth rejoice.8
Wrote to Izie, Bessie Paris, Rev. Hartly, Sister Campbell, and send [sic] service card to some friends.
Yes it rains. The deeper thoughts flow through the soul.
Lieut. Stewart of C.A.S.C.9 was here and spent the night.
Saturday, 13 October 1917
Morning fair, looked like a fine day – rain, rain rain – I wonder when the water supply will give out. Tree blew down in front of officers’ quarters. Wrote to Izie, Syd Jones. Expected some letters that did not come.
Sunday, 14 October 1917
Rain as usual. Slight blaze in officers’ quarters.
No church service – men all working.
Col. White inspected the camp
Lieut. Colter with horses arrived at night.
Monday, 15 October 1917
Morning fair – rain as usual before night. Mlle Joanne Dubiedvisited the camp –
Rec’d box from home – candy, cake, baking powder, coffee.
Tuesday, 16 October 1917
Visited Morey but had only about an hour there – Had some fun on train going. Had an hour in Champagnole on return.
Letters from Mlles Dole & Videlier.
Nothing of far reaching importance happened in camp.
Wednesday, 17 October 1917
Frost – a real Canadian morning.
Visits from Misses Joanne Dubiedand Walsh of Switzerland.
Rec’d card from Mme Michault from Lyon. Wrote Izie, Mme M —
Dance and music in officers quarters at night.
Thursday, 18 October 1917
S. Luc, év.
Fair – rain. The usual order of things. Same visitors as yesterday.
Wrote Izie, Frank Stanfield, Miss Dubied.
Feel sad and lonesome – I want to go back to Canada.
Friday, 19 October 1917
S. Pierre d’A.
Yes it rained. Played checkers some. No letters today. Wrote Izie, Romney and young man in Arbois.
Sunday is drawing near. What shall I say?
Ordered breeches and tunic from ordnance today.
Five months today since we arrived at La Joux.
Saturday, 20 October 1917
Clear and fine – cold.
Visitors from Pontarlier at the camp.
Wrote Izie, Miss Dubied.
German air machines passed over Dole etc. Four brought down –
Sunday, 21 October 1917
Quiet Sunday. Held one service. Text Isa. 44:17 The residue thereof he maketh a god.10 Sub. “God made of left overs.”
Visitor from Dole. Wrote Izie and G. M. D.
Capt Murray came back from the Vorges.
Monday, 22 October 1917
Lovely bright morning – frost.
Wrote a letter for Fred Dixon.
Wrote to Izie and Miss Videlier.
Boys busy working on huts.
Letters from Izie, Hazel, Marjorie Gideon, Mary Clyke.
Pte. Brent gave out on his way to work and lay out all day and was brought into hospital at night. No underwear and no socks.
Tuesday, 23 October 1917
Visited hospital and talked with boys.
Rec’s letters from Mr. David and Gabrielle – in Paris for final examination.
Wrote to Izie, Mlle Dole, Miss Vera Ribbins.
Ordered tunic, breeches, boots from quartermaster.
Letter from Izie in the evening.
Wednesday, 24 October 1917
Snow – wind raw.
Inspection by Lord Lovett and Col. Johnson.
Wrote to Hazel, Gabrielle, Mary Clyke, Izie.
Rec’d letter from Mrs. Bryant, and Truro News.11
Pain in my back. Sgt. Stoute gave it a good rubbing and now it feels a little better.
Thursday, 25 October 1917
Letters from Miss Ford and 3 from Izie, inclosing Bro. M. N.’s, Helena’s, Romney’s, Portia’s.
Wrote Izie, Mlle Dole.
Rumpus in camp – crap game – mix up – pistol shots etc. Nobody hurt.
Friday, 26 October 1917
Lovely fine day.
Wrote Izie, Miss Gideon. Sent bank book away. Rec’d letters from Izie and Bro. Milton.
Saturday, 27 October 1917
Rain again. Nothing unusual this morning
The Lord only knows what may occur before night.
Wrote to Izie, Bro. Milton.
Major Sutherland left for Paris and London on leave.
Sunday, 28 October 1917
Ss. Simon et J.
Rain. Two services. Text 2 Tim. 2:3, “A good soldier.”12
Rec’d letter from Gabrielle. Went to Dole and stayed at Hotel de Lyon. Met G– at train and returned to La Joux.
Snowed during night. Wrote letters to Izie, Sadie Lopez, Rev. A. W. Thompson,13 Rev. Armstead.
Some trouble with soldiers in Pontarlier –
Monday, 29 October 1917
Rain and cold. Returned to camp from Dole.
Wrote to Izie.
Tried to recall the quotation from the Vision of Sir Launfal beginning: “The Holy Supper is kept indeed,” etc.14
Rec’d a letter from Izie
Presented with a statue of little boy taking splinter out of his foot for my table by Mlle Dole.
Tuesday, 30 October
Snow and cold.
Wrote to Izie and Gabrielle.
Received letters from Izie, Mrs. Alice White, Mrs. Henry Paris.
Pontarlier put out of bounds for our men.
Wednesday, 31 October 1917
Fairly nice day – not too cold. Letters from Mlle Videlier and Syd Jones.
Paid mess bill 17 francs
Thursday, 1 November 1917
Wrote Izie, Miss Ford, Miss Henry Paris, Miss Bontoft.
Rec’d two letters from Izie enclosing one from Bro. Milton.
Friday, 2 November 1917
Walked to Andelot and returned by train. Sent Izie two sets of fancy hair pins.
Rec’d a letter from Jen.
Wrote Izie a long letter.
Saturday, 3 November 1917
Mild and fair. Looks like spring.
Rec’d letter from G– telling that she was 5th in her examinations.
Wrote Izie, Rev. Thomas, and family. Sent in report to Senior Chaplain.
Sunday, 4 November 1917
S. Charles B.
No service - - - -
Glacier Hill detachment returned to camp.
Went via ambulance and truck to Champagnole – had dinner at Grand Hotel. Ordered dress for Helena – bought some souvenirs. Returned by train.
Rec’d letters from Major MacDonald, Bro. Milton, etc. Started letter to Izie but did not finish.
Monday, 5 November 1917
Rather nice day.
Wrote to Izie, Bro. Milton, Jen, Major MacDonald.
Capt. Murray went to take charge of hospital at Champagnole.
Visitors to supper at mess. No letters for me today.
Batman and I fixed up my room quite nicely.
Tuesday, 6 November 1917
Damp and cold.
Wrote Izie, Gabrielle, Mrs. Mentis.
Rec’d letters from Ethel Williams and Mrs. Talbot. Bank book returned.
Col. Johnson came into quarter without rapping. “Don’t you know enough to rise when your Commanding officer comes into the room.”
Wednesday, 7 November 1917
Another dreary rainy day. Wrote to Izie, Ethel Williams, Mrs. Talbot, Sister Sarah.
Rec’d two letters from Izie and one from Rev. Statisand Gabrielle.
Lieut. Evans came to our camp.
Thursday, 8 November 1917
Snow and mud –
Wrote to Izie.
Visit from Miss Dole and her two friends, Mon. and Mlle Rochaix. Spent a pleasant afternoon. Went to Andelot on the train and returned by next train. Got assurance I had long desired – I knew and yet I did not know. O the contradictions in human life –
Friday, 9 November 1917
Mud, slush, snow –.
Rumors of our being sent away from La Joux.
Visit from Col. Johnson and Col. White.
List of 50 men sent to H. Q. who are to be sent to 37 company – Capt. Morrison to take them. Undesirables. Some electric lights put into the camp.
Capt. [Starflett], Capt. Murray, Lieut. Purdy were at the mess for tea.
Rec’d letter from E. Boudot inviting me to Arbois.
Wrote to Izie, Mlle Videlier.
Sat in Mess and did some thinking about sermon for Sunday.
Talked to Hayes about sermon. A good head – fine mind.
Saturday, 10 November 1917
S. Léon, p.
Ground and trees white with snow. Rain followed.
Girls in camp selling souvenirs – got six dogs and cats.
Wrote letters to Izie and E. Boudot.
Electric light on for first time in No. 2 Camp. Thought of writing G– and her friend but did not – will write tomorrow.
Sat in Mess after tea and had long chat. Boys interesting. Got letter from Leon Gryson.
Sunday, 11 November 1917
S. Martin, év.
Quite a good day – fine.
Wrote Izie, Gabrielle, Mlle Rochaix – sent souvenirs. Service in Mess. Text 1 Sam 16:7.15
Boys – 50 getting ready to go concert in evening.
Room filled – everybody enjoyed it.
Mr. Hayes had letter from his father telling of splendid work of 85th. Battalion cut to pieces.
Monday, 12 November 1917
Fifty boys left this morning. Fair and cold. Gave boys farewell address at Station. “Three cheers for our chaplain.” Went as far as Andelot with them. Went to Champagnole and got dresses for Helena and Portia.16 Margarite made them. Visited hospital – came back in car with Capt. Livingston. Three hundred and fifty Russian soldiers arrived in La Joux – some in hut, 10 ourcamp.
No letters – started a letter to Izie.
Tuesday, 13 November 1917
Fair and cold – Major Sutherland returned from leave in England.
Wrote letters to Izie, Rev. Statis, Madeline, Prof. Lapalus. Retired at 11:15 and had a good sleep.
Wednesday, 14 November 1917
Fair and cold in the morning – got warmer in the day. Sent out big bunch of service cards. Wrote letter to Izie and mailed box containing 2 dresses, 2 shawls, 1 broach (rooster), souvenir Pontarlier, match case, talcum powder.
Rec’d letters from Miss Wilford, Mlles Dole and Rochaix.
Thursday, 15 November 1917
Up early – cold and misty.
Went by early train to Salins. Met on train Ambassador of Brazil returning to [St.] from Switzerland. Had dinner at Hotel Des Missagirees. Miss Rochaix and other teacher were there. Invited to afternoon tea at Mlle [Grandin] and Prof. Lapalus. Present Mlles Dole, Dole, Rochaix, et Lapalus –
Rec’d letters from Izie (2), Mrs. Fred Dixon, Mlle Videlier.
Wrote to Izie.
Bought box of paper and broach.
Johnson asleep on duty. [end p. 301]
Friday, 16 November 1917
Lovely day – clear – not too cold.
Boys working in quarters sheathing overhead.
Johnson, the batman, bounced for sleeping at the switch.
Wrote to Izie, Gabrielle, Marie, Raymonde, M. David [Mauras].
Saturday, 17 November 1917
Wrote Izie and Miss Wilford. Six months since we landed in Bologne [sic].17
Sgt. Sealy and [Escort] returned.
Sunday, 18 November 1917
Fine day. Service in Mess room. Text Matt. 16:26.18 Questions concerning profit and loss: (1) Do They satisfy? (2) Do they endure? (3) Do they develop the highest in us?
Quiet day – not many officers in camp.
Visit in afternoon from Mme Mayer, De Giger, Mlle [Gaudin?] and others.
Big mail. Letters from Izie, Mrs. Mentis, Mrs. Hattie Borden, Mrs. Cartyand cards and picture from Izie.
Leut. Hood returned from “On Command.”
Monday, 19 November 1917
Clear and fine – cool.
Wrote to Izie, Mme [Menfor], Mme de Giger, Mlle Videlier.
Bad cold – took medicine and went to bed.
Tuesday, 20 November 1917
Six months since we are settled in La Joux. Foggy damp day – cold getting better!
Card from Henry [Guyon]. Wrote Izie. Sent Mrs. Henry Paris card in Charley’s letter.
Expecting to move shortly. Where? - - - -
Wednesday, 21 November 1917
Rain – no end of rain. Unrest in Switzerland. All leave cancelled –
Wrote to Izie, Hattie Borden, Mrs. Menthis, Helena, Romney.
Rec’d letters from Mme De Giger, Mlle Dole, Mon. David Mauras. Boys working in Officers’ quarters.
Thursday, 22 November 1917
Ste Cécile, v.
Once more the Sun is shining. It is good to get sunshine after so much rain. Life is sunshine and shadows.
Rec’d cards from Mrs. Mentis, letters from Miss Blackadar & Mlle Dole.
Walked to Andelot and bought some post cards and came back by train. Pay day – boys got 70 francs – sent Gabrielle some papers.
Wrote Izie, Gabrielle, and sent Christmas greetings to Miss Leben, Mr. Dorman, Rev. Hartly Dally, Miss McCully.
Sgt. [L]. M. Peacock went on leave to Paris.
Pay night with No. 2. Con. [Three] boys went absent from 21 Co’y.
Friday, 23 November 1917
Rain – why does it rain so much?
Rec’d 10 francs from Pte. Miller for Christmas present. Thanks.
Sent two pipes to Bro. Milton. Wrote Izie, Bro. M., and sent Christmas greetings to Mrs. [Tusky], Mrs. Parsons. Sent cards of camp to Mlle Deniset & Mme Chauvin. Capt. Morrison & Lieut. McLean went to Paris on special leave. Rec’d letters from Izie, Emily, & Mary Clyke.
Why the heart searchings? The pain of not being able to fully enjoy the companionship of our friends. I must write a friend tonight…
My room sheathed over head today.
Wrote a nice long letter to G. and felt better.
Saturday, 24 November 1917
Mild and cloudy – turned out fair.
Wrote Izie early and took train for Pontarlier. Called on Mme Parrod and some others. Had dinner at La Gare with Capt. Bourassa & some French officers.
Invited to afternoon tea at Mme Thomas’. The girls were very pleasant – sang “A Dream of May.”
Paid postage on Izie’s dress.
Rec’d letters from Mme Johnson and Hattie Borden.
Sunday, 25 November 1917
Heavy rain – afternoon mixed with snow.
Small attendance at church. Text Rev. 20:12 “The books were opened.”19 Books of
1. God’s providence
2. God’s Laws
3. God’s Memory
4. Individual memory
5. Book of Life.
Wrote letters to Izie, Mme Johnson. Sat in front of fire and sang hymns after supper. Thinking of deeper experiences of life. What is really worth while. Are we using our opportunities to the best for ourselves and for God?
Talk of moving West Indians & leaving Canadians – we shall see.
Monday, 26 November 1917
S. Lin, p. m.
A little snow on the ground.
Rec’d letters from Gabrielle and Mlle Videlier.
Wrote Izie and miss Blackadar.
New M. O. Capt. W. W. Birdsall arrived and stationed with No. 2 Con. Co’y.
Young Jackson ran off with moto truck.
Tuesday, 27 November 1917
Ss Vital et Agricol
Cold and a little more snow. Wrote Izie & Emily Stewart. Rec’d letters from Miss Wilford and Mon. Rochaix, Cpt. Bradshaw. Carpenters sheathed side of my room next the window.
[written above date] Mlle De Byans Ch. De Byans
Wednesday, 28 November 1917
Some rain, more mud.
Capt. Stark departed this morning for England to go on transport service.
Rec’d letters from Mlle Dole.
Wrote Izie and Miss Wilford. Election talk is rife. Plan to go to Gray on Wednesday, Dec. 5th.
Thursday, 29 November 1917
Mild and mud.
Six visitors at camp. Mlles Dole, De Byans and two other ladies. Major Legere sang The Perfect Day.
Ladies sang. I went to Andelot and returned on the other train.
Rec’d letters from Mme Chauvin, Miss Jackson, Pte. Roachford. Pte. Boone very sick in hospital. Doctor had to go out at night. Wrote Izie.
Election talk getting hotter. Lieut. McLean returned from Paris. Paris is some place that’s all. Paris starts where London leaves off.
Miss Jackson sent me a nice gold button.
Friday, 30 November 1917
Lovely day – no complaints. Capt. Morrison returned from Paris.
Visited hospital – Boone very sick – Johnson trench feet.
Rec’d letter from G. Henri. Wrote to Izie, Syd Jones, Roachford, Roachford, Bradshaw, Miss Jackson.
Turkey and duck for dinner – Some men don’t know how to act with gentlemen.
Wrote G– long letter.
Letter Mr. Thrope.
Saturday, 1 December 1917
S. Eloi, év.
Raining in morning – cleared later. Visited hospital at Champagnole, dinner with Capt. Murray.
Wrote Izie and Mlle M. Dole from Champagnole.
Rec’d letters from Izie, Mlle Rochaix, Mlle Deniset.
Bought caps for Nettie and Billie at Mme Lea Chapuzot.
Pte. Boone died in No. 2 Con. hospital.
Sunday, 2 December 1917
Rain and little but of snow.
Good attendance at the service. Text Job 14:14.20
Visited hospital after service. Wrote to Izie and Mrs. Binga. Sang hymns all afternoon – Some of the boys in and played in evening.
Mr. Hayes brought word that he was with G– and other friends.
Monday, 3 December 1917
Quite cold – Snow – Bright sunshine.
Wrote Izie, Gabrielle, Mlle Rochaix. Letters from Bro. Milton & Sarah.
Tuesday, 4 December 1917
Cold – Snow.
Conducted Pte. Boone’s funeral, rode horseback.
Wrote Izie –
Left on evening train and went to Salins –
Had nice time at Hotel des Messageries. Saw Mlle Rochaix and French officiers. Gave he [sic] a book and promised some cards.
Letter from Gabrielle.
Wednesday, 5 December 1917
Took early train to Besançon, went to Hotel De Europe.
Bought lace for Izie.
Besançon is nice old city on the Doubs river.
Proceeded by 504 train to Gray, arrived there at 8:00 pm. Was met by Miss Wilford and Mrs. Anderson, went to Hotel de Paris. Room cold. Met French officers, and showed them pictures of camp.
Gray is nice town of about 12,000 situated on the Saône river and is very beautiful.
Thursday, 6 December 1917
Arose at 8 – beautiful day. Went to Cantine Anglaise at nine-thirty. Cantine is run by the British branch of the French Red Cross. They give coffee and cigarettes to the soldiers going and coming from the front and play music for the soldiers in the mess room in the afternoon.
Had lunch with Miss Wilford and Mrs. Anderson at the cantine. Visited the French Equipment Depot where the soldiers are fitted out going and coming from the front. The Commandant was very genial and invited me to dine, and also to return and dine with them.
Left on 1:20 train and changed at Auxonne for Dole where we had nearly an hour to wait for train. Arrived back in Camp about 8 o’clock.
Splendid trip –
Letters from G– and Izie, Dea.21 J. H. Desmond.
Papers from Rev. Hartly.
Friday, 7 December 1917
Cold – Clear
Wrote Izie and sent caps to Nettie and Billie – chains for Helena & Portia, broach and lace for Izie.
Wrote Miss Wilford.
News arrived of disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2,000 killed, 3,000 wounded and 25,000 homeless.22
Saturday, 8 December 1917
Immac. – Conept.
Clear and dry cold – not too cold.
Wrote Izie, Col. McGreer. Rec’d letter from Bro Milton. Wrote Pte. Rochaix.
Sunday, 9 December 1917
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Early in the morning our songs shall rise to thee.
Good Service. Text Esth. 4:14.23
Visited Clink and hospital.
Letter from G –
Bought cheap fountain pen. Mme Planche and daughters here for dinner. Music afterwards.
Wrote Izie, Rev. Hartly, G–
Holly and mistletoe came from G– for Christmas. Cpt. Binga removed to hospital at Champagnole. Wrote Bro. Milton.
Monday, 10 December 1917
Warner – Clear –.
Photograph of maison taken. Write Izie & Mlle Rochaix.
Five real live Canadian nurses arrived – had tea at our mess and thought it was fine.
Went out for horseback ride –
Capt. Pocuneer appointed chaplain of no. 5 district.
Tuesday, 11 December 1917
S. Damase, p.
Cold – Clear
Wrote Izie and Rec’d letter from Izie.
Wednesday, 12 December 1917
S. Paul, év.
Clear and Cold –
Wrote Izie, Charley.
Visitors here and took pictures.
Thursday, 13 December 1917
Lovely Day – clear and cool.
Planned to go to Champagnole. Walked to Salins in 2.25 – arrived in time for dinner at Messageries. Invited to afternoon tea at Mlle Dole. Returned by train. Met Baronne du Bourg of Besançon.
Capt. Anderson left for hospital accompanied by Capt. Morrison.
Wrote to Izie.
Rec’d letters from Mrs. Oscar Clyke and Cpl. Bradshaw and Henri Guyon.
Friday, 14 December 1917
Clear and cold –
Went to visit hospital at C –
Returned in car. Arranged to go to Paris on Sunday night. Wrote Izie. Letters from Izie, Helena, Portia, [Jennie] Leben, H. R. Borden. F. B. McCurdy and Rev. Purycar.
Saturday, 15 December 1917
Clear and mild.
Letters from Izie, Mrs. F. Borden. Pass to Paris granted. Start tomorrow.
Col Ross, A.D.M.S.,24 Col. Wilson, Capt. Laws visited camp. Bookshelf put in my room. Visited hospital.
Wrote to Izie.
Letters from Izie (2), F. Stanfield, Mrs. Straith, Bessie Paris.
Sunday, 16 December 1917
Service Text Is. 31:1.25
Sub: “Over confidences”
Not quite satisfied with myelf. Visit from Miss Dubied and [?o?] flight Lieut.
Wrote Izie, Mrs. H. R. Borden.
Left on the 608 train for Paris. Spent 3 hours in Dole and one in Dijon.
Met Miss Tier on train who had been a prisoner of war for 3 1/2 years in Austria.
The Austrians hate the Germans.
Monday, 17 December 1917
Snowing in morning.
Arrive in Paris at 10 am. Put up at Hotel Morderne [sic]. Met some Americans. Called on Y.M.C.A. American and British. Got some music books.
Attended Alhambra in evening and met The Seven Spades.
Bought new fountain pen.
Wrote Izie and Gabrielle.
Tuesday, 18 December 1917
Cold and sloppy – Tried to get some money and failed – Will try again tomorrow. Called on boys of 7 Spades. Attend show in evening.
Wednesday, 19 December 1917
Clear and cold – saw something of Paris. Went to Opera in evening.
Wrote Izie and Miss Wilford. Sent Izie silk blouse – sent Agnes little elephant.
Nursing Sisters, Col & Mrs. Wilson, Major Strong, Capt. Mrs. McDougal at mess for dinner.
Thursday, 20 December 1917
Left Paris at 7:45 am. Met Flight Lieut. P. Tostain and Dr. Ortion on the train. Had nice dinner on train. Changed at Dijon and met two American officers. Arrived in camp and found letters from Rev. Hartly, Jennie Leben, Mrs. Mentis, Mr. Turner, Mrs. H. Paris, Miss Rochaix and card from Mrs. Sutherland and Misses McCullough. Parcel from Mrs. Straith.
Friday, 21 December 1917
S. Thomas, ap.
Cold – not too cold –
Planned to go to Champagnole. Will try to go tomorrow.
A diary to keep record of one’s deepest thoughts.
Christmas so very near. Letters from Izie (3), Gabrielle.
Wrote Izie, Agnes, Miss Rochaix, Mrs. Straith. Sent Gabrielle small elephant.
Saturday, 22 December 1917
S. Yves, év.
Cold and clear – frosty
Visited hospital Champagnole, returned by ambulance.
Rec’d letters from Pte. Roach and Mlle Dole. Her father is very sick.
Quarters splendidly decorated.
Sunday, 23 December 1917
Cold – looks like snow.
Christmas service – band played for marching in and out.
Text II Cor. 9:15.26
1. A gift must have value. 2. Represent the giver – 3. Meet need of recipient.
Mailed Agenda 1918 to Izie. Wrote Izie, Mlle Dole, Miss Leben, Mrs. Oscar Clyke.
Rec’d box from Mrs. O. Clyke.
Monday, 24 December 1917
Christmas Eve. Chilly – looks like snow. Everybody busy getting ready for Xmas. Last year the 1st Bapt. Church Truro remembered me. I wonder how Izie and the children are getting along. Letter from Mlle Rochaix.
Tuesday, 25 December 1917
Snow – Christmas in France. Visited hospital. Went around among the men. Men had turkey – Sergeants nice dinner – officers entertained Canadian nurses for dinner. Thirteen at the table. Speeches by all present.
Visits in afternoon from Col. Wilson, Major Strong, Major Lang, and others.
Dance after dinner.
Christmas card from Miss Dole. Wrote Izie.
Wednesday, 26 December 1917
More snow – Snow plow out. Wrote Izie and Sister Sarah. rec’d letter and Christmas card from Miss Wilford.
Concert in men’s mess at night. Visitors after concert – Capt. Logan, capt. Gordon, Capt. Stubbs, Lieuts. Breckon, Lockman & others.
Another box from Mrs. Straith.
Thursday, 27 December 1917
S. Jean, év
Very cold – water pipes frozen in several places.
Photographers were here and took picture of railroad and camp.
Wrote Izie, Charley, Baronne du Bourg.
Capt. Grant served cocoa and cake in afternoon –
Some class to us. . .
Sold tools to Capt Livingston.
Friday, 28 December 1917
Clear and cold – lovely out. Visit from Mme. Thomas & five daughters from Pontarlier.
New Doctor, Major Merrett arrived – good fellow.
Got orders to go with Capt. Morrison & Lt. Hood and 200 men to another part of France.
Settled up mess account –
Cash 30 francs for the month.
Saturday, 29 December 1917
S. Thomas, év
Clear and cold –
Busy packing up – time very short before we go away.
Thinking of the good times we have had in the Jura Mountains.27 The boys who are left behind seem sorry to see me leave them. I wanted to see boys in the hospital before going away. Wrote Izie and Gabrielle. Major Sutherland left this morning for Paris.
Sunday, 30 December 1917
Cold, O so cold.
Left La Joux at 8am with Capt. Morrison and Liet. Hood for Alencon.28 At Dole one soldier was left sick – at Dijon another was left sick. Car was cut off with five – two got off at another station ad were left – 9 short in all. At Dijon Lieut. Hood kicked Miller. Miller was sick. Had dinner at Hotel Moderne, Dijon, and talked with several Americans. Bought gloves at Mme Monin’s – she and daughter very pleasant.
Left Dijon about 5:00 pm, arrived in Paris about 5 am Monday morning.
Men had to travel in box cars without any fire from La Joux to Dijon.
Monday, 31 December 1917
Still keeps cold. Went to Hotel Lyon de Paris – had shave and breakfast. Wrote to Izie.
Left Paris at 7:10 and came to Juvisy and waited until 11 o’clock – came on and changed at Versailles and came on to Surdou [sic]. the men left at 9:00 and came on to Alençon. I came to Alençon the next day.
[Tuesday] Jan. 1, 1918
Cold – got up later – came from Surdou [sic] to Alençon to find that others had gone out to [S/8]8 Company.
Capt. [La Eimore] took charge of me, very pleasant.
Major Carew of Ottawa in Command. Reported Lieut. Hood for kicking Pte. Miller.
Arrive à Dole 9:30
Departe Dole 1:00
Arrive a [sic] Dijon? 1:08
Entries conclude here. The diary ends with sixteen pages containing miscellaneous information printed in French by the manufacturer (tax rates, currency and measurement conversion tables, telegraph fees, etc.).
Digital reproduction received by MLC on 23 July 2019, via Library and Archives Canada.↩︎
Printed by manufacturer.↩︎
Izie Dora White (1890-1972) is William Andrew White’s wife; they married in 1906 and she resided in Truro, Nova Scotia, during the war.↩︎
The No. 2 Construction Battalion initially arrived in Liverpool, England, in April 1917. Within a single month, however, the Battalion had diminished in numbers due to injuries, illnesses, and deaths sustained while performing duties. Reduced to the status of a Company, the No. 2 Construction was transferred to eastern France where its members assisted various units of the Canadian Forestry Corps in Lajoux, Péronne, and Alençon. Based on the geographical details in White’s entries, his “new quarters” are likely in or near Lajoux.
Lindsay Ruck. “No. 2 Construction Battalion.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada, 20 December 2018, https://bit.ly/2UuMXZB.↩︎
Roughly a forty-five kilometre walk.↩︎
Pontarlier is a commune roughly eighty-one kilometres from Lajoux.↩︎
Further evidence that White’s French quarters were, indeed, stationed at Lajoux.↩︎
King James Version (KJV), Ps., 97.1: “The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.”↩︎
Canadian Army Service Corps↩︎
KJV, Isa., 44.17: “And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.”↩︎
Colchester County, Nova Scotia newspaper founded in 1891.
Nan Harvey. “History of Truro in a Nutshell.” Town of Truro, 23 Sept. 2003, https://bit.ly/3bp9Lkw.↩︎
KJV, 2 Tim, 2.3: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”↩︎
Thompson was a British Reverend who assisted in recruiting Pals battalions at the outbreak of World War I. On 25 October 1914, the Revered delivered a sermon to new recruits that praised and encouraged them.
Michael Stedman. The Somme 1916 & Other Experiences of the Salford. Leo Cooper, 2006.↩︎
“The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another’s need:
Not what we give, but what we share,—
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,—
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me.”
James Russell Lowell. “The Vision of Sir Launfal.” 1848. The Vision of Sir Launfal and Other Poems. Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1896, https://bit.ly/2UjqakV.↩︎
KJV, 1 Sam., 16.7: “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”↩︎
Helena and Portia were two of White’s thirteen children. Portia White became an internationally renowned classical singer (operatic contralto) after her debut in 1941. John Boileau. “William A. White.”↩︎
Likely Boulogne-sur-Mer, a port city on the north coast of France. A minor misspelling on White’s part that is repeated in later entries.↩︎
KJV, Mt., 16.26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”↩︎
KJV, Rev., 20.12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”↩︎
KJV, Job, 14.14: “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”↩︎
Abbreviated form of “Deacon.”↩︎
The Halifax Explosion occured on the morning of 6 December 1917 when the Norwegian vessel SS Immo collided with the French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc, which was carrying high explosives, in a strait connecting upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Baisen. The explosion devastated Halifax’s Richmond district and was the largest man-made explosion at the time. A resultant tsunami also destroyed the Mi’kmaq First Nations settlement at Turtle Grove.
Lois Kernaghan and Richard Foot. “Halifax Explosion.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada, 15 November 2017, https://bit.ly/3dupuQX.↩︎
KJV, Es., 4.14: “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”↩︎
Assistant Director Medical Services↩︎
KJV, Is., 31.1: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!”↩︎
KJV, 2 Cor., 9.15: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”↩︎
The Jura Mountains run along the France-Switzerland border north of the Western Alps. The French commune of Lajoux is located in the Jura department, further verifying the location of White’s quarters for the duration of this diary.↩︎
It is roughly 670 kilometres from Lajoux to Alençon, a commune in Normandy where some members of the No. 2 Construction Company were sent after leaving England.↩︎