Final War Diary of Alcie Petavel 10 April -29 November 1918 – a few quotes
Alcie starts her last diary on the 10.04.18 with her sadness of how long the war is going on for:
“Another volume: How little I thought of this when in pure irrepressibility I snatched my little grey Edinburgh University notebook at the end of July 1914, alas”
She talks about the suffering of France and its people in 12.4.18 after gas attacks on their towns by the Germans. She sympathizes by saying ‘it’s cruel that the good French people should be harried like this after nearly 4 years of war’ and ‘imagine children with their eyes and throats scorched in poison gas’
Her interest in the demise of France continues, on the 27.04.18 she writes about Mont Kemmel: ‘Bad news on the front: Kemmel has been taken by the Germans: and its evident of its importance as French general had told his men to die there rather than surrender’.
She records statistics of losses in the war on a regular basis, for example on the 25.5.18 ‘A steamer torpedoed and sunk while crossing from Fishguard to Cork. Went down in 5 minutes: no time to launch boats, entire crew of 35 in waves – only 5 saved’
On 20.11.18 just over a week after this war is after she records British casualties as so far being over 3,049,991. Killed officers – 37,876
Killed men – 620,828
Missing officers – 12,094
Missing men – 347, 051
Wounded officers – 92, 664
Missing men – 939,478
In the figures she states she is including Indian and Dominion troops.
Alcie is critical over the lack of help she feels America is giving France on 6.06.18 : ‘The bitter cries for American help that comes from France are really very pathetic. When we are all wiped out then America will come in and get all the glory’.
She also gives her views on what she thought of Woodrow Wilson at the end of the war in her diary on 20.11.18 - ‘Fine speech by L.K. George in Parliament, meddling Wilson coming over to peace conference. Hope he won’t fool the League of Nations upon us; that would suit the German book’.
She can be quite comical in her style of writing as she says on the 28.6.18: ‘no special war news proper. Are both sides down with ‘flu’ or what?’
Alcie records the announcement of the end of the war on Monday 11.11.18 – ‘Red letter day, all things come to an end, even this nightmare war’ and ‘we feel quite stupefied with realisation’.
The last page of her diary on 29.11.18 has quite chilling words as she could not have foreseen there would be a ‘next time’ with Germany, which of course there was when WW2 came along:
‘I am thankful in every sense and in many ways unpennable to have lived to see this day, unworthy though I am. All through this war I have hoped I should live to see the end. Of course I would have liked a yet more final end, but always knew that was impossible this time. When next Germany throws herself upon us, it will be I believe the end of her’.