The Army

Few aspects of modern life are more different than the conditions endured by soldiers in the 18th century army.

Our soldiers today still fight, endure wounds, amputations and death but their conditions of service are so much better that they would be astonished if they read the accounts left by their ancestors who fought in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular wars against Napoleon.

The 18th Century soldier besides fighting had to himself undertake the duties of the commissariat, as such provision was utterly inadequate. This applied to all the absolute necessities of life, food, clothing, shelter and medical care and travel.

Most of the earlier wars were fought in other countries and the armies endured long and dangerous journeys in sailing ships before they could even meet their enemies. The soldiers often arrived weakened by sea sickness and battering for days by storms.

After their arrival they travelled overland mainly marching on foot, aided by horses, ponies or donkeys. The greatest problem for both our army and their French opponents was provision of food for men and animals.

Modern armies enlist some women, not so 18th Century armies though one or two women did fight disguised as men. But some women followed the army in the Peninsular War and were officially recognised. The usual number was 6 per regiment. Some were of great help to the soldiers, others brawling, drunken nuisances. All endured incredible hardships. They were both a help and a burden to the soldiers who themselves had to provide for their needs as well as they could. How inadequately is shown in the example of one sergeant who secured a small pigsty for his wife to shelter in when on the march, she worked hard to clean it but was dispossessed by the adjutant’s clerk. She then spent the night in the open with her husband, the two of them sharing his blanket. for four years both officers and men had to sleep under the stars and in their later years many peninsular officers and men suffered greatly from rheumatism.

When tents were supplied in the last year of the campaign the situation for a modest woman was equally dreadful. Sergeant James Anton wrote in his memoirs that the tents were in theory to house 18, in practice it was usually less. On one night 11 soldiers lay in it with the Sergeant and his wife. They all stretch out with their feet to the centre, every man’s head below his knapsack. One half of the blankets were below them, the other half on top so that they all lay in one bed. At daybreak every man got up folded his blanket, strapped it to his knapsack and was ready for the march. As for the poor young woman she could scarcely sleep waiting for the dawn.

“I now resolved, if possible not to mix blankets with so many bedfellows again because at that time the whole of the men were affected with an eruption on the skin similar to the itch, and their clothing was in a very filthy state, owing to it being seldom shifted, and always kept on during the night. I now set about erecting a hut for self and wife.”

With the help of others he finished his temporary hut in a day. His wife’s apron did service for a door and when up they were not disturbed. He made more weatherproof huts in the following days but did not long enjoy them as the call to orders soon came. the camp and the hut were abandoned as the march began.

John Spencer Cooper, a sergeant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, recounts an even greater hardship on the march. “After passing through an immense forest of pine trees, nearly all of which were remarkably crooked, a soldier’s wife was delivered of a child after we had halted for the night. Next morning she was placed on a horse and marched with the column.”

Sergeant Joseph Donaldson likewise was amazed at what the women who followed the men in the Peninsular campaign endured: marching often in a state of pregnancy, frequently bearing their children in the open air, in some instances on the line of march by the road side and suffering at the same time all the privations to which the army was liable.

“In quarters on the other hand they were assailed by every temptation that could be thrown their way and every scheme laid by those who had rank and money to rob them of their virtue. Their starving condition was often taken advantage of by those who had it in their power to supply them.”

Most of the soldiers wives were stouthearted. Bridget Skiddy was one of them. She was married to a private in the 34th Foot, and carried her husband, his knapsack, and musket when he could go no further during a retreat:

“an’ me back was bruck intirely from that time to this, an’ it will never get straight till I go to the Holy Well in Ireland, and have Father McShane’s blessin’. “

These women were tough and hard-bitten, no better and no worse than their men. Their language and propensity for looting was a perpetual source of irritation to the Provost Marshall, yet Wellington knew his army could not manage without these stouthearted women. They succoured the wounded, mended the clothes, cobbled their shoes and helped them to retain their basic decency.

The wives of Officers also worked and suffered. John Luard records that Susan wife of Charles Dalbiac hurried out from England to nurse her husband through a fever he had contracted in the steaming valley of the Guadiana, in doing so she braved the disapproval of the commander in chief who very much disapproved of officers’ wives accompanying their husbands on campaign.

Colonel Dalbiac later wrote to a friend:

“Whenever the Regiment took to the field Mrs. Dalbiac accompanied me on horseback and such was the case on the day of the battle of Salamanca. She remained near the extreme right of our position, whence the heavy brigade of the cavalry had moved for the attack…here she had the fortitude to remain during the whole of the action, tho’ so completely within cannon range that shots from the enemy’s guns frequently raked up the dust near her horses feet. Of this incomparable wife I will only add that with a mind of a most refined cast, and with a frame alas too delicate, she was when in the field, a stranger to fear.”

For many hours after the battle she believed her husband had been killed. She spent the night searching the battlefield for her husband’s body. It was a horrifying experience. The wounded were lying suffering under the stars and being plundered by soldiers and camp followers. All the dead bodies were stripped naked by their own troops. They thought little of it as they suffered such privations, needed good clothes and knew they too might soon be dead.

Susan Dalbiac survived this ordeal and found her husband alive the next morning and rode at his side in the triumphal march into Madrid. Mary Anton was left behind as the army crossed the river Adour. While waiting for the bridge to be repaired she was asked by another woman to look after her loaded colt. This animal would not move when the time came. She was in despair when a grenadier came up. He noticed that she had a horn with the masonic arms cut into it. The sight of these talismanic hieroglyphics inspired him to help her with the colt and move safely on.

A sidelight on the thinking of Peninsula soldiers on more general problems is given by Sergeant Anton who encountered Jews in spain and shows a high degree of tolerance for his time.

Sergeant Anton on Jews in 1829

“A considerable number of Jews reside on the rock of Gibraltar. not a few of the mercantile speculations are conducted by them. They are not excluded from any civil employment, and it is rare to find one of them betray any public trust confided to him.. When we witness their mercantile abilities, their devoted attachment to a religion that hurts not the nation in which it is tolerated, it is somewhat surprising that they are not held in more esteem than they really are. Like the Society of Friends, they form no hostile intentions towards the state which gives them protection; they set up no rival-ships for converts, to cause jealousy; their religion is that from which we have partly drawn our own, and that to which we refer in many cases for religious observances. If these people have acquires a bad name for extortion and usury, it may justly be ascribed to the many arbitrary impositions to which they have been subjected.”

The extraordinary and almost total lack of provision of food during the Peninsular campaign is made startlingly clear in the memoirs of Sergeant John Spenser Cooper. the picture he paints is almost surreal. the soldiers seem almost mad in their hunger.

“The commissary having no bread for us, we were marched into a newly reaped field of wheat, of which each man received a sheaf instead. Laughable it was to see hundreds of soldiers bearing away their burdens, but we could make little use of the corn for want of the means of grinding it.”

“Notwithstanding our weak state through want of food, we had to drag the artillery by ropes up some steep mountains, as horses could not keep on their feet. Great numbers of these animals died. Men looked like skeletons. Our clothing was in rags; shirts, shoes, and stockings were worn out; and there was no bread served for six days. All we got was a pound of bad lean beef for each day. Happy was the soldier who had a little salt.”
Later they halted on the steep banks of the Rio del Monte. They had to cut holes in the hill to rest in at night to prevent themselves sliding down the steep hillside.
They had no tents, not even blankets. how did they sleep?

“We slept in the open air. The greatcoat was inverted, and our legs were thrust into the sleeves, one half was put under us, and the other half above. The knapsack formed our pillow. Thus arranged and with the forage cap pulled over our ears, we bid good night to the stars, and rested as we could.
We frequently went down to the river, pulled off our shirts, washed them with or without soap, knocked them well on the flat stones, and then hung them on the rocks or bushes, picked off the vermin, and when dry put them on again.”

At camp near Badajoz they were afflicted with scorpions. One crept up the sleeve of a soldier’s great coat while he slept. His arm turned blue and he was in hospital for several days.

Sickness

“I had an attack of dysentery; this was succeeded by fever. A large blister was put on my back and one on each instep.”

Blister plasters were designed to act as a “counter irritant” to alleviate pain. The plaster, applied to the skin, caused a red spot or blister. The idea was that blood beneath the plaster and the whole “bulk of blood in the body” would set forth to the reddened area. The artificially created inflammation, it was thought, would draw the blood away from the afflicted part of the body and hence ease any “pain and suffering.”

One of the worst causes of suffering was being moved by the primitive transport available. Cooper was moved on a cart drawn by two bullocks. The slow pace and jolting were unbearable. The slowness in receiving attention was the next problem. The numbers of sick and wounded always being far greater than the soldier orderlies there to tend them. Cooper was left on the cart until night. He was then helped up the steps of a convent and laid down on the cold flags at the stairhead and left there until removed by order of the surgeon. He was carried into a corridor among 200 sick and dying men.

“My appetite and hearing were gone; feet and legs like ice; the three blisters on my back and feet unhealed and undressed; my shirt sticking in the wounds caused by the blisters; my necessaries lost.”

He asked a woman belonging to the regiment to bring him some tea and gave her some small loaves he could not eat, but she forgot to bring the tea. Some days later he was moved in small covered wagon drawn by mules to Elvas. He relapsed again. The orderlies were brutes. In spite of all his appetite and strength began to return. The doctor allowed him more bread and a pint of wine a day and he recovered. Orders came to march to join the army at the other end of Portugal. In spite of his weakness he managed the first day’s march of 8 miles. Thereafter he grew stronger but his problems were not over. He and his companions had sold their blankets and greatcoats on the route to buy bread coffee etc. On arrival they went up before the Colonel who wanted to know where the kit issued to them at Elvas had gone. Lost, stolen or worn out were their replies. At last the Colonel said:

“It astonishes me that you Light Company men sly and keen as you are, should have been so unfortunate.” It was more astonishing that we escaped flogging.”

After a 4th bout of fever while quartered in a convent in Guarda he tried to improve his appearance by ripping up and turning the inside of his trousers out. In the process he ran the needle deep into his knee joint, but by taking great care managed to remove it without breaking and suffered no more bad effects after but stiffness.

The alternative thinking provoked by the extreme lack of food is shown in this anecdote.

” While in the village of Avarios de Cema in an old house we probed as was usual the earthen floor with a ramrod, and we found a box in which was a bag of Indian corn. This was taken by one of our men who had been a miller to a windmill at some distance. He set it going and ground the corn, of which we made several messes of passable porridge.”

Later passing through a wood they found several bags of meal and tried dumpling making but the stuff would not stick together.

“When boiled the dumplings looked like little frightened hedgehogs. To get a mouthful I had to pick a lot of prickles from the mass. The stuff turned out to be unsifted barley meal and was meant for the french cavalry.”

After the battle of Vittoria where they nearly captured King Joseph who seeing his danger sprang from his carriage and mounted a horse and gave them the slip; the famine turned to feast. Among the enemy stores they found sacks of flour, leaf tobacco, and hundreds of bullocks and sheep.

Cooper made and baked several loaves which were rather burnt and milked a goat from which he had a splendid supper. Three days march later he came upon his brother who was famished. He and his companions had been obliged to eat bean tops for three days.

“I was happy to supply him with some badly burnt cakes, some flour and a little money.”

note: From “Seven Campaigns” by J.S. Cooper. Late Sergeant in the 7th Royal Fusiliers.
Carlisle: G. & T. Coward, Ltd.

The conditions of soldiers

Apart from the danger and suffering inevitable in their calling from battles and travel to foreign lands there was much suffering from the conditions of every day life imposed upon them by their profession. Such necessities as food and clothing which their commissariat should have supplied in reasonable quality and quantity were often lacking. As Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach and both french and English soldiers suffered.

The problems of logistics and supply in the Peninsular War loom large in Douglas’s memoirs. His ability incisively to illustrate the fundamental factors inhibiting the mobility of the British Army in the Peninsula is vividly illustrated in the following extract (pp 62-3):

“The pursuit commenced at all points. But this proved to be one of the hungriest marches we encountered during the war. Nor will it appear strange how this could happen when rightly understood. Say the troops marched four or five leagues each day at least, while the Commissariat mules with their provisions were not able to make three or three [and a half]. Thus every day we were getting further away from our own rations, without the smallest hope of relief on our front.”

James Anton in his retrospective of Military Life details problems caused by the care of hair in 1804.

“a general order was issued for the Army to discontinue the tying of the hair, and to have it cropped.
Never was an order received with more heartfelt satisfaction than this, or obeyed with more alacrity.
The tying was a daily penance, and a severe one, to which every man had to submit. Every morning he had to daub the side of his head with dirty grease, soap and flour until every hair stood like the burr of a thistle, and the back was padded and pulled so that every hair had to keep its due place. It was no uncommon circumstance for us when on the guard bench and asleep to have rats and mice scrambling above our heads eating the filthy stuff with which our hair was daubed.”

Harry Ross-Lewin confirmed this description.

“When I joined the Militia in 1793 all military men wore their hair clubbed, that is each had a huge false tail attached by means of a string that passed round the upper part of his head, and over it the hair was combed and well thickened with powder of flour; a plastering of pomatum or grease was then laid on; a square bag of sand was next placed at the extremity of the tail, rolled up with the assistance of a small oblong iron until it touched the head and tied with a leather thong. After the arrangement of the tail, the officers’ foretops were rubbed up with a stick of pomatum, a most painful operation, especially on cold mornings, and often calling the salt rheum to the eyes. When this was over the Friseur retired a pace or two for the purpose of frosting, which was effected by means of a elastic cylinder filled with powder. It let fall upon the hair a light shower of powder. Lastly the powder knife prepared the head for parade by arching the temples and shaping the whiskers to a point.The men powdered only on dress days.

John Skipp enlisted when he was 13 looking forward to a merry and exciting life. his first experience was disillusioning.

“I was taken to a barber’s and deprived of my curly brown locks. My hair curled beautifully , but in a minute my poor little head was nearly bald, except a small parch behind which was reserved fora future operation…having my hair tied for the first time. A large piece of candle grease was applied first to the sides of my hair, then to the hind long hair; after this the same kind of operation was performed with nasty stinking soap.”

Like the other men he suffered having a bag of sand poked into the back of his head round which the hair was gathered tightened and tied with a leather thong.

“When I was dressed for parade I could scarcely get my eyelids to perform their office; the skin of my eyes and face was drawn so tight by the plug that I could not possibly shut my eyes.”

Fortunately for the soldiers the queue was fazed out in 1808.

Clothes

In museums and book illustrations we see how new or decently preserved uniforms looked. But when in use on campaign they were almost unrecognisable.

James Anton wrote:

“The clothing of the 91st. Regiment had been two years in wear. some had the elbows of their coats mended with grey cloth, others had one half of a sleeve of a different colour from the body. As out march continued daily no time was found to repair shoes until completely worn out, this left a number to march with bare feet or as we termed it “to pad the hoof”. The men with no shoes were made to march in the rear of the brigade, their feet cut or torn by sharp stones or brambles. The raw hides of newly slaughtered bullocks were cut up to form a sort of buskin or substitute for shoes for the bare footed soldiers.”

John Shipp also wrote on clothes:

“I was then paraded to the tailor’s shop and deprived of my new clothes-coat , leathers and hat for which I received in exchange red jacket, red waistcoat, red pantaloons and red foraging cap. I was exceedingly tall but my sleeves were rather longer than my fingers and the whole hung on me.”

Shipp went on to have an original army career. At the age of 15 he was sentenced to 999 lashes for desertion, but this was cancelled by a humane CO. he was then promoted from the ranks not once but twice. and twice sold his commission.

Wives of Soldiers

The Government allowed six wives to embark on service to every hundred men. women with more than 2 children were never allowed. The others should be of good character and were of use and comfort to all doing their washing and needlework. More than this some were heroic.

The rules of the 95th Rifle Corps stationed at Shorncliffe, Kent specified that Needlework should never be given out of the regiment by the Quartermaster, that a charity fund should assist sick women, the children of the regiment should be under its care, should be well and cleanly clothed and regularly attend school. This seems a high standard for the time, but all changed on foreign service. Those who went overseas were selected by ballot. On campaign they were to march or ride donkeys ahead of their husbands to prepare meals and bivouacs though in practise this was often impossible.
The wives of Officers also worked and suffered. John Luard records that Susan wife of Charles Dalbiac hurried out from England to nurse her husband through a fever he had contracted in the steaming valley of the Guadiana, in doing so she braved the disapproval of the commander in chief who very much dis approved of officers wives accompanying their husbands on campaign. Colonel Dalbiac later wrote to a friend:

“Whenever the Regiment took to the field Mrs. Dalbiac accompanied me on horseback and such was he case on the day of the battle of Salamanca. She remained near the extreme right of our position, whence the heavy brigade of the cavalry had moved for the attack…here she had the fortitude to remain during the whole of the action, tho’ so completely within cannon range that shots from the enemy’s guns frequently raked up the dust near her horses feet. Of this incomparable wife I will only add that with a mind of a most refined cast, and with a frame alas too delicate, she was when in the field, a stranger to fear.”

For many hours after the battle she believed her husband had been killed. She spent the night searching the battlefield for her husband’s body. It was a horrifying experience. The wounded were lying suffering under the stars and being plundered by soldiers and camp followers. All the dead bodies were stripped naked by their own troops. They thought little of it as they suffered such privations, needed good clothes and knew they too might soon be dead.

Susan Dalbiac survived this ordeal and found her husband alive the next morning and rode at his side in the triumphal march into Madrid. Mary Anton was left behind as the army crossed the river Adour. While waiting for the bridge to be repaired she was asked by another woman to look after her loaded colt. This animal would not move when the time came. She was in despair when a grenadier came up. He noticed that she had a horn with the masonic arms cut into it. The sight of these talismanic hieroglyphics inspired him to help her with the colt and move safely on.

William Green late Rifle Brigade wrote his memoir “Brief outline of his travels and Adventures.” He was in the retreat to Corunna under Sir John Moore. The march was 250 miles.

“We had no tents. A blanket had to be served out to each man; we marched from daylight until dark; the bullocks were driven before us; and slaughtered as they were needed; they had little or no fat on them. But if we had time to boil our mess well, we counted more of the soup than the meat, as it was so tough. But it was not often that we could do this. We seldom halted for more than two hours; and having wood and water to seek to cook our victuals, before we could do so, the order would be given to get under arms and get on the march.”

In spite of the dreadful conditions of war some extraordinary examples of compassion were recorded. Near Cacabellos a soldier had been tried by court martial and was sentenced to be hanged. He had the rope round his neck, fastened to the branch of a tree and sat upon two men’s shoulders, with a cap drawn over his face, waiting for the signal for the men to let him drop, when Sir John Moore, with a loud voice, said “If I forgive this man, will the army be answerable for his future good conduct?” Our brave Colonel said “Yes?” and the word “Yes” went round the ranks three times, and the man’s life was spared.

Barbarossa & The Crusades

Tuesday 29 May 1945
By today my will power is defeated. I lay in bed when I should have been up for early Mass.
I gave in a nasty exercise on turning parts of Hannibal and Epaminondas into ‘oratio obliqua”. Betty had practically done it for me the night before in the library. Eileen Betty’s sister did not turn up again and Betty left her writing case at Victoria. A disheartening day.

Wednesday 30 May
Essay on Barbarossa returned. I lunched with Marie Gormer and Pat’s crowd in the Snack Bar of Women s Union.
Went to Central Reference Library to start an essay on the Crusades. slogged on books in French.
Phoned Mama. she met me in Town having brought some provisions for the Sedgley party. I sent a PC to Auntie annie about the Sedgley Choir Broadcast.

Thursday 31 May
Feast of Corpus Christi. We went to the Priory for Mass and Holy Communion.
Liver paste for breakfast.
Prof Redford gave his last lecture–an awfully good one.
During this week I think I spent every spare minute swotting at Maupassant.
That night at Sedgley Dr. Knight lectured on Eliot, a magnificent lecture which inspired me afterwards to write a huge letter home chock full of Eliot quotations.
Before the lecture Mother Cecily asked me to sit next to her and share my Eliot with her. Thus I was mixed with the Hierarchy. She also asked me to contribute to the discussion to prevent Knights taking away the idea that Sedgley was altogether dumb.
Julie Lynch and Joan Ince from the University English school came to the lecture.
Knights did “The Hollow Men” “Ash Wednesday” “A Song for Simeon” “Triumphal March” and the Four Quartets of which only the first “Burnt Norton ” is in My Eliot.
Julie was absolutely thrilled and we went to bed enraptured. A splendid evening ( Knights was one of the foremost exponents of Eliot’s Poetry.)

Friday 1 June

Did not get up (for Mass)
Whitehead in his last set book lecture did the first three stories in Maupassant. In the afgernoon he gave a literature lecture on Maupasssnt, truly excellent. He compared Daudet and Maupassant with real psychological insight.
The I took Sister Vincent to the Drawing room of the Union to hear the Sedgley broadcast. Lyn Lewis came in to hear it. The singing sounded very good but was spoilt for me by the rotten wireless.
Later went to Caf. Austin & Tony Delahunty were there, Frank arrived with a new girl June Terry.
I went to Christie for a book on the Crusades. came back to find Joan and Shirley with B. & B. in the reading Room. After some time we went to get ready for the Ambrose Barlow Society party.

In the ensuing conversation perhaps as a result of this Teddy described Betty’s hair as straw.
In “Ash Wednesday I noticed a line
“Oh my people what have I done unto thee” which I recognised as a quotation from the Reproaches sung in the Good Friday Mass.(Micah 6:3)
We had a long argument about whether they were called reproaches or not. Bernard said no and his missal in latin gave them without a heading. strangely enough no Catholic seemed to have heard of them. Bernard recommended all Maritain’s works and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” as reading.
After Hicks’ Lecture I suddenly remembered it was the History tea in honour of Prof. Cheney’s arrival. I sat next to Rosalind Wrong ( an excellent young lecturer) or rather she to me. She was most amusing.
Cheney gave an address on the correct use of words in essays and lectures which rather amused Prof. Redford who said if we were all as careful as Cheney we would never get anything done.
When the end of the tea was announced I muttered to myself “this is the way the world ends” 3 times “not with a bang but a whimper.”
Miss Wrong made the astonishing remark “Do you know what a prickly pear is?” Obviously she is acquainted with “Ash Wednesday”.
Unfortunately I was too dumbfounded to reply.
In Caf. were B. & B. with Robert Markus (and his friends Walter Stein, Jean Radcliffe.) Bernard McCabe had left for Middlebrough.
I returned to Sedgley alone and chewed toffees and read Edith Sitwell’s Criticism of Eliot which I thought very penetrating.ThenI went to Benediction. Gave Mother Cecily some books on Eliot. She is very enthusiastic the only one of the Sedgley lecturers who seems interested in modern poetry.

Barbarossa & Crusades

Tuesday 29 May 1945
By today my will power is defeated. I lay in bed when I should have been up for early Mass.
I gave in a nasty exercise on turning parts of Hannibal and Epaminondas into ‘oratio obliqua”. Betty had practically done it for me the night before in the library. Eileen Betty’s sister did not turn up again and Betty left her writing case at Victoria. A disheartening day.

Wednesday 30 May
Essay on Barbarossa returned. I lunched with Marie Gormer and Pat’s crowd in the Snack Bar of Women s Union.
Went to Central Reference Library to start an essay on the Crusades. slogged on books in French.
Phoned Mama. she met me in Town having brought some provisions for the Sedgley party. I sent a PC to Auntie annie about the Sedgley Choir Broadcast.

Thursday 31 May
Feast of Corpus Christi. We went to the Priory for Mass and Holy Communion.
Liver paste for breakfast.
Prof Redford gave his last lecture–an awfully good one.
During this week I think I spent every spare minute swotting at Maupassant.
That night at Sedgley Dr. Knight lectured on Eliot, a magnificent lecture which inspired me afterwards to write a huge letter home chock full of Eliot quotations.
Before the lecture Mother Cecily asked me to sit next to her and share my Eliot with her. Thus I was mixed with the Hierarchy. She also asked me to contribute to the discussion to prevent Knights taking away the idea that Sedgley was altogether dumb.
Julie Lynch and Joan Ince from the University English school came to the lecture.
Knights did “The Hollow Men” “Ash Wednesday” “A Song for Simeon” “Triumphal March” and the Four Quartets of which only the first “Burnt Norton ” is in My Eliot.
Julie was absolutely thrilled and we went to bed enraptured. A splendid evening ( Knights was one of the foremost exponents of Eliot’s Poetry.)

Friday 1 June

Did not get up (for Mass)
Whitehead in his last set book lecture did the first three stories in Maupassant. In the afgernoon he gave a literature lecture on Maupasssnt, truly excellent. He compared Daudet and Maupassant with real psychological insight.
The I took Sister Vincent to the Drawing room of the Union to hear the Sedgley broadcast. Lyn Lewis came in to hear it. The singing sounded very good but was spoilt for me by the rotten wireless.
Later went to Caf. Austin & Tony Delahunty were there, Frank arrived with a new girl June Terry.
I went to Christie for a book on the Crusades. came back to find Joan and Shirley with B. & B. in the reading Room. After some time we went to get ready for the Ambrose Barlow Society party.

In the ensuing conversation perhaps as a result of this Teddy described Betty’s hair as straw.
In “Ash Wednesday I noticed a line
“Oh my people what have I done unto thee” which I recognised as a quotation from the Reproaches sung in the Good Friday Mass.(Micah 6:3)
We had a long argument about whether they were called reproaches or not. Bernard said no and his missal in latin gave them without a heading. strangely enough no Catholic seemed to have heard of them. Bernard recommended all Maritain’s works and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” as reading.
After Hicks’ Lecture I suddenly remembered it was the History tea in honour of Prof. Cheney’s arrival. I sat next to Rosalind Wrong ( an excellent young lecturer) or rather she to me. She was most amusing.
Cheney gave an address on the correct use of words in essays and lectures which rather amused Prof. Redford who said if we were all as careful as Cheney we would never get anything done.
When the end of the tea was announced I muttered to myself “this is the way the world ends” 3 times “not with a bang but a whimper.”
Miss Wrong made the astonishing remark “Do you know what a prickly pear is?” Obviously she is acquainted with “Ash Wednesday”.
Unfortunately I was too dumbfounded to reply.
In Caf. were B. & B. with Robert Markus (and his friends Walter Stein, Jean Radcliffe.) Bernard McCabe had left for Middlebrough.
I returned to Sedgley alone and chewed toffees and read Edith Sitwell’s Criticism of Eliot which I thought very penetrating.ThenI went to Benediction. Gave Mother Cecily some books on Eliot. She is very enthusiastic the only one of the Sedgley lecturers who seems interested in modern poetry.