All across Europe this week, people are remembering the outbreak of hostilities a century ago. Although personal war diaries were prohibited under Army Orders, many combatants kept them and some still exist. One such is in the Historylinks Museum collection. The diary was transcribed at Historylinks Museum with the addition of expanded abbreviations and other editorial clarification shown in parenthesis. John Barnes has divided up Captain’s Rose’s diary into blog posts for the next frew months so we can follow how the war develops from the point of view of one officer. Compare the last week or so that you have experienced with the experiences of Captain Rose.
Captain Ronald Hugh Walrond Rose was the third son of Frederick William Rose and was born in London on 11th July 1880. He was educated at Scott’s preparatory school, Kensington and followed his brothers to St. Paul’s School. He was gazetted into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment from the Militia as a Second Lieutenant on 4th January 1899 and promoted Lieutenant on 17th March 1900. He transferred into the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) on 20th May that year.
He kept meticulous records of his service and travels as well as hunting diaries, which he illustrated himself. It was on the hunting field that he met his future wife, Hetty Fletcher, daughter of George Fletcher of Liverpool and sister of John Kebty-Fletcher, Conservative M.P. for Altrincham. They married at Eastham on 29th March 1910 and in their short marriage had two daughters. Shortly afterwards they travelled out to South Africa so that Ronald could rejoin his regiment, the lst Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), which was stationed at Bloemfontein. In 1912 the Roses moved to Glasgow when the 1st Cameronians left South Africa, relocated to Maryhill Barracks, Glasgow. Captain Rose started a diary, written in pencil in an Army Field Message Book, in 29 July 1914 when the Cameronians were mobilised whilst at summer camp at Blair Athol.
29 July 1914
We were in Camp at Blair Athol when the European situation became acute. I had just taken Lee [Captain Harry Hylton Lee, Cameronians, Commanding A Company] [for] a drive in the Humberette when on our return we were halted by Davidson [Lieutenant Davidson, Medical Officer 1st Bn Cameronians], who told me we were ordered into Glasgow at once. We at once guessed it meant business. I went off in the car for the Col.[Colonel], who was at Killiecranckie, playing tennis. Amidst violent packing we dined the Camerons.
Rose at 4 a.m. continued packing of camp till 10. Regt, left by train at 11, and I motored in 100 miles or so to Glasgow, calling at Gves at Perth on route, arrived about 5 p.m. to be told I had to start early next morning for my war station at Porthill Battery.
Arrived at Porthill, at once made my dispositions to protect the fort, and set remainder of men to work improving the defence with wire entanglements. Our own food arrangements were of the most primitive. Much annoyed by a Bat-eared Subaltern of the R. E. [Royal Engineers] Reserve. However, I squashed him fairly badly. Visiting sentries all night.
Rushing the men on with work, training continuously all the time, not very much food. Sleep in small casemate. Felt rather like a ship. Telephone to Hamilton. Led the R. E. boy through the wet grass, I being in gum boots, to his great discomfort, he now very subdued.
Still at work on defences, doing 8 hours a day, besides sentry work at night, men work excellently.
Wired to come in to settle up mess, accounts, etc., delighted.
Settling up mess and my affairs, met Hetty [hereafter in the diary referred to as H.] at 2 p.m. delighted to see her. Babies well. mobilization 1st day.
Very busy with mobilization. Blundell [Private Blundell batman] packing up my quarters as everything has to be removed from barracks. See H, in my quarters when any spare time. Went over to her at Benisons after mess, always leaving telephone number return.
3rd day of mobilization, which goes smoothly, but very busy, also very busy with accounts of mess. Company now looks like a battalion.
Mobilized, but very busy closing accounts. Dined with H. at Central.
Still busy packing, private affairs, and mess. Route march, told nothing.
9 Aug Sunday
Ready now, lunched C.O. [ Commanding Officer Lt Col Philip Rynd Robertson] and Mrs at Central, dined with H. do.
Ready, dined Central, greatest secrecy about our movements.
Seeing all I can of H. Dined Benisons, who are most kind.
Dined with H. at Central.
Saw H. off at 2 p.m. Left Glasgow late at night from Maryhill station.
Embarked on SS Caledonia. Fine Anchor Line ship, very lucky, as many in pig boats, not told where going. Fine night, searchlights going all along coast, fine sight.