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A Home Front Diary

A Home Front Diary



• Immediacy and insight – the whole of the First World War recorded by one London woman
• Includes accounts of recruitment, Zeppelin raids, Belgian refugee and Front Line experiences, rationing and day-to-day life at home during wartime

‘One of the saddest and yet most thrilling sights to me was to see parties of those young fellows who had just volunteered being marched from the recruiting office – perhaps 30, 50 or 100 of them – in all sorts of dress – top hats, caps, soft hats, morning coats, jackets – shabby men and ‘nuts’, labourers, clerks, partners in great city businesses, hooligans – all mixed up, marching side by side, all having made the great decision, ready to lay down their lives for their country ... It made one’s heart ache.’

On Tuesday 28th July 1914 Lillie Scales heard that war was imminent. Four years of turmoil ensued, and from her home in North London, Lillie recorded it all in the pages of her diary.
By 7th August she had turned up for first-aid classes along with a thousand other women. Men had rushed to enlist. By October Lillie and her husband George had offered to take in Belgian refugees, and later in the war they gave a home to many ANZACs while they were on leave. As a result, Lillie’s diary also holds accounts of daring escape and of Front Line action. Through her diary we hear of Zeppelin raids, rationing, the sinking of the Lusitania, the shelling of Scarborough, and the loss of dear friends.

Lillie’s detailed diaries provide insight and lend immediacy to this fascinating subject.


Lillie Scales was aged forty-six at the outbreak of war and was living with her husband in Hornsey Lane, North London; both were lifelong diary keepers. As they had no children, they felt it their duty to house Belgian refugees, and their family and business connections with Australia led to them opening their home to ANZACs as well as other colonial troops.


Lillie Scales’ great-nephew Peter Scales adds an introduction and editorial notes to her wartime diary.

He lives in Faringdon. Oxford.

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