Alexander Pepys’ War Diary – February 1915


Natasha has written to me saying the Queen Alexandra’s IHS have asked her to go to Belgium. As she speaks French they wish her to assist with the French and Canadians of French extraction near Ypres. I am worried as moving overseas is bringing her closer to the battlefront. But how could I object when she has powerful family reasons to hate the Boche and play her part in sending them packing When I explained her commitment to our children they reluctantly understood , saying ‘Mother is doing a job that’s worthwhile. She would not be Mother if she refused to go, and we love her as she is’.

The Germans have increased their bestiality, declaring their submarines will attack even ships of neutral nations such as the United States. Their citizens will be drowned. At least their partners the Turks were stopped from getting into Egypt. Our naval ships have retaliated by again bombarding the forts at the entrance to the Dardanelles. This must be the start of a bigger effort to get Turkey pushed out of the War, the Ottoman Empire is said to be a spent force.

Information seeping in from the east is dispiriting. Fighting around the Masurian lakes has lead to thousands of prisoners being taken by the Germans. Is our Russian ally able to give effective help towards letting us gain a competitive advantage in the west ? Or can Germany place its best troops in Picardy., Artois and Champagne ? I realize conditions of snow and ice are appalling in Polish Russia, perhaps the Tsar’s commanders need to take time to regroup and rebuild their weakened armies –then push forward when Spring comes. This is the policy our commanders are using, as I know from the movement of war materials to the docks.

I have become involved in planning for the future. I know the Minister was pleased about my suggestion to beware of losing too many railwaymen as volunteers. Materials for the front have to be competently supplied. Checking the rails, maintaining point and signals are as vital for the new armies as administering their food and clothing in the training camps.

After I wrote to Natasha giving our blessing to her transfer Rose raised an issue at supper on Saturday. She said that at 15 she can do more for the family by taking responsibility for Thom and Nat and helping Becky with household duties. After all, younger girls in the village help parents running their shops and farms. Her practical logic was irrefutable. I was pleased to agree. This war has made her a young woman