Victorian diarist

Mary Collier, Lady Monkswell is a Victorian diarist and widow of the late Liberal politician 2nd Baron Monkswell. He had been Minister for War in 1905 and Mary who was in her late 60s by 1918 was extraordinarily well connected with a sharp eye and keen interest in current events. She writes with emotion and feeling - often before things are reported in the newspapers.


Dear Eric

March 21, 1918 Lady Monkswell: To Mrs Dyer's, as far as Parnham Down with Robert and Lorna. Met Mrs Pitt-Rivers, Lady Avebury’s sister in law. She was in coat and boots - Land Women’s costume, becoming and suitable. Heard of dear beautiful Eric Lubbock's heroic death last year (air man)

Captain Eric Lubbock MC of the 45th Squadron Royal Flying Corps was Lady Monkwell’s nephew. His A1082 Sopwith Strutter was attacked by 2 Albatros D.IIIs and shot down, at Railway Wood near Ypres in 1917. Both Lubbock and observer John Thompson were killed


Ostend Raid

May 10, 1918 Lady Monkswell: At 1am the old Vindictive, 6000 tons filled with concrete was forced into Ostend harbour and sunk. Another Zeebrugge (17 days ago). Engineer Lieut Cdr Bury severely wounded.

Commander Godsal, killed, Lieut Crutchley, finished the Vindictive’s position across the canal and fired the charges that sunk her. The Lieutenants of the motor launches that saved the crew of the Vindictive were GH Drummond and Bourke.


Letter from Ambrose Pinney

Namur, November 1918

My Dear Lady Monkswell, How very nice of you to write to me. It was a great moment when the Hun finally caved in, and since then the situation has not been without a humour of its own.

By mistake we captured some Hun prisoners after 11am. Various regiments wired in as to what was to be done with them. GHQ said that they were to be released at once and followed it up with a number of worries as to why their orders had not been obeyed.


A Memorial Book

Letter I have received from the Commons about setting up a Memorial Book to remember those members of both houses, their sons and grandsons, who have died in the conflict


Cosmo Gordon

Friday 29th November 1918 Lady Monkswell: In dog cart to Mrs Pinney’s, she most cheerful: walked back. German Admiral asks to fly his dishonoured flag. Not so, says Admiral Beatty. Letter from Cosmo Gordon from Russian Hospital in S. Audley Street where I had written to him, dear fellow.


Old Blockade

Old Blockade - by a boy at Dartmouth

Observe how doth the British Navy

Baulk the Bavarian of his gravy

While the fat Boche from Köln to Munick

Cannot expand to fill his tunic.


Foch's sayings

Lady Mary's diary: Monday 2nd Dec 1918

Everyday, news so interesting and good we hardly know ourselves. From Clemenceau’s speech at the Fr Embassy. At a critical stage Foch said: “I can’t hold can I, then I’ll attack.”

Another famous saying: [by Foch] “I shall fight in front of Amiens, I shall fight in Amiens, I shall fight behind Amiens.”


US ships in Weymouth

Weds 4th Dec 1918 Margaret [my sister in law] took me to Maiden Newton to see Robert [my son] at Weymouth 1-5.30pm. Met us at station, my emotion. Looking just the same but head still shattered. Has given his health for his country - may he be blessed.

Very nice walk along sea walk. All manner of ships going in and out of the mist. Portland, the S. Coast. Much intimate talk. Dear Little Lorna more lovely than ever, those dark eyes. Was kind to me and pleased with my doll. Pleasant tea.

picture: Weymouth Seafront 1918, courtesy Dorset History Centre


Presidential escort

Weds 4th Dec 1918 American officer tumbled into our 1st class as we started back. We at once entered into conversation. US big ships had arrived that pm. Pale, strong American face, blue uniform. Had just come from Rosyth could hardly find words to express his contempt of Hun fleet and mortification at not having been able to fight. Says fleet was in filthy state and bad repair.

Admiration of Ad. Beatty. Displeased at President W coming over to Paris; is to meet him, escort at Brest on Monday. This young man brought home to me America’s presence.


Christmas card

A Christmas card from Ambrose Pinney - “With Heartiest Greetings for Christmas and the coming Year”


Sir Robert's letter

Weds Dec 11th 1918

Nice letter from Sir Robert Williams in reply to my congratulations: unopposed election, W Dorset.


Lloyd George

Thurs 12th Dec 1918 Rather seedy. How seldom am I kept indoors, thank God. Lloyd George’s excellent Election speeches. The net is closing round the Kaiser (at Amerongen, Holland)

Germany quite unrepentent. Frances [niece] has been nearly distracted but remains sane. Cosmo [her husband] can get abt on crutches in hospital South Audley St.

Friday 13th December 1918 I paid my last subs to the Belgian refugees. We have had them here since Jan 25 1915. No one loves the Belgians. Arranged Christmas cards, presents etc.

Sat 14th December 1918 General Election - I hope Lloyd George and his coalition will get a large majority. Sir Rt Williams returned unopposed in W Dorset so whether I may vote (being Peeress) I have not discovered.


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