The Home Front – WW1
While many of the family are at the front and dealing with the brunt of World War 1, those at home had a busy if not exciting time.
We have significant insight within the Dibdin Family form letters to Lionel and Cecily from various people.
At the beginning of the war William Joseph Dibdin was living at Belmont in Sutton with his wife and 2 daughters, Christine and Margaret and occasionally Marian and Family.
Margaret working in a bank and Christine ran a school locally but this closed during the war because of issues with the Landlord so she worked in an office at the newly formed Air Board, which coincidentally Lionel worked for after he was retired from the front in France after a gassing.
Ethel by now had married and presumably moved to America and Lettie, a singer, was travelling around England performing.
Cecily, Lionel’s wife had two sons to look after and obtained a job with the local Gas Company. Sadly in Jan 1917 Stanley Aglio Dibdin, her eldest son died of pneumonia. Lionel had already joined up in 1916 and at the time was at the front. What was sad about the incident was that that two days before his death a letter indicated that Stanley was getting better
Stanley Haycraft, Cecily’s brother, had joined up at the beginning of the war having recently arrived back from Egypt working as an engineer. He kept Cecily on the go buying items, such as photographic equipment and a gramophone and sending them to the front. Stanley did not tell Cecily to much about his day to day activities but did discuss details in letters to Lionel once he had joined up. Before the war and at the beginning Lionel was working for his father in the sewage treatment business but it appears that the work was getting lees and less and so this may have encouraged him, with help from his brother in law to join up. Rex, Lionel’s brother who by now was at home with war injuries advised against joining. By 1917 Rex was out of the army and had joined a bank but as is seem in the article about his life his did not settle and suffered extreme depression in the 1920’s.
Bearing in mind the horrendous effects of the bombing in World War 2 it is sometimes overlooked that London experienced bombing in WW1 during 1917.
In 1916-17 Marian was ill and managing 1 child and gave birth to another, while her husband, Paul Montford, the sculptor was finishing work in Glasgow.
In 1917, William Joseph, at the age of 67, was asked to work in the ministry of munitions in Manchester and not only found the work tiresome but also became very ill because of the working conditions.
Judging from letters various aunts were busy knitting socks for the soldiers and Cecily was regularly sending cakes.
During the war William Joseph was still working on sewage treatment and in one letter to Lionel he refers to problems with the system on Lord Knutsford’ estate. Apparently there had been damage done by a fallen tree an despite repairs Lady Knutsford still complained of the smell. Lord Knutsford (Sydney George Holland of London Hospital fame) informed William that he had no sense of smell – He sent his kind regards to William’s son, Lionel, who had been involved in the original installation.
Despite the horrors and chaos of the trenches there were elements of everyday life. Lewis Davis, a bank employee, who between 1911 and 1919 had three sons, all involved in WW2, was asked by Lionel to send to him, at the front, details of a particular variation of chess.
.......To be Continued