Wednesday, August 06, 2008

first world war diaries

In order to find out more about my grandfather Frank’s WW1 experiences, I spent some hours yesterday at The National Archives trawling through the war diaries of his unit. It was a really eerie feeling. These were the actual thin pieces of paper that one of his officers had written (in incredible, legible, handwritten pencil) which provided detailed, day-to-day accounts of their war - where they were; what they were doing; describing the weather conditions; outlining the casualties; recording names of heroes and the like.
I found the whole experience incredibly humbling. I’ve read bits and pieces about the Great War and I’ve obviously seen photographs and TV footage but, for the first time, got a real sense of its utter relentlessness and a little of what it must have felt like to have been “under fire”.
War was declared on 4 August 1914. My 17 year-old grandfather sailed from Dublin and arrived at Le Havre on 19 August as part of the initial Expeditionary Force…..
Photo: thought to be have been taken while on training in Ireland (Frank is fifth from left, middle row – looking relaxed and happy). I wonder how many of them survived?

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