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BEF 1914: Personal Diaries


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Hello. I am building an index of unpublished personal diaries of men who recorded their experiences in the BEF in 1914. It is specific to 1914, although clearly diaries will spill over into 1915 and beyond. I have trawled the main archives (NAM, IWM, War Diaries etc) however if anyone is aware of any diary I would be grateful. I suspect Regimental Museums will hold a few. Bibliographies are a useful source for tracking them down. I will post the list periodically. Thanks in advance.

To kick this off, here are eight personal diaries embedded in the war diaries that I found to be extremely interesting. Very detailed (the largest is 13,000 words).

Capt Paterson.............1/SWB

Lt Col Davies...............2/OBLI

Capt Hudson...............1/King's Liverpool

Lt Col Gibbs................2/DOWR

Lt Col Bond.................2/KOYLI

Brig Bird......................2/RI Rifles

Lt Woolcombe.............4/Middlesex

Gen Bulfin...................2 Inf Bde

MG

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Hello Martin

I think that copies of Haig's diaries have a class to themselves at TNA. The originals are either still with the family or held at the National Library of Scotland.

Ron

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From memory there are a couple of brief ones in the 4th Seaforth diaries, from the period they were with Meerut Div. (1914-15). I will check later and get back to you with refs. It might be that they are only 1915 because they are very brief.

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Good morning Martin,

West Sussex Records Office hold the recollections written in the 1970s, based on wartime diaries I believe, by Sgt F M Packham (L10134) of the 2nd Royal Sussex, who was wounded at Priez on 10th September 1914 (and returned to 2nd Sussex in the draft of replacements after Aubers Ridge). Lyn MacDonald has used them as a source for her 1914 and 1915 books. I have photo'd them, so happy to Dropbox to you if you'd like, if you PM me your email.

Hope this may help

Have a good day, Jim

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Martin, re my previous post x 2 diaries and their file locations:

Lieut. EC Bessent, 4th Seaforth Hrs. 4th September 1914 – 9th June 1916. WO 95/3941/2

2/Lieut. AEC Hope, 4th Seaforth Hrs. 1st November 1914 – 10th June 1915. WO 95/3941/2

Best

M

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Just diaries, or private papers too?

Private papers, journals...anything not yet published. My aim is to write a standard list of all BEF personal (unpublished) accounts covering 1914. I shall post the lists as they are updated. MG

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I wonder how many gems are sitting in private collections and family papers that would be so valuable to others?

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Martin

A proud effort. I am not certain if the IWM has/do publish a list it's holding.

David

The on-linecatalogue has a very basic filter. Filtering Great War and personal papers generates 93 documents. Then it is simply a case of looking at the dates.

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The Liddle Collection, Leeds University will have lots.

Edwin

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Dear All - thanks for the respnses so far. I have 119 sources of unpublished material. The list is sourced from the bibliographies of a dozen books on the BEF. Some authors do not provide the ultimate sources. This is work in progress and I will add the suggestions above in due course. If anyone is able to fill the gaps i.e. units I would be grateful.

MG

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Martin

There are 2 volumes of the diaries of Lionel, Lord Tennyson (grandson of the poet) in IWM. The first covers his time with 1 Rifle Brigade from mobilisation (he went out with 1st Reinforcements and arrived in France on 24 August) until about November 1914 when I think he was wounded and returned to England. The second volume (labelled Volume 3!) covers his time as Brigade Major for 60 Brigade in 20 Division in late 1915 around the time of the disastrous attack at Laventie in support of Loos.

Glen

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Martin,

There are a few more at the TNA

8th Hants at Suvla Bay (WO95/4325)

1914

Captain Balfour, 5th Dragoon Guards (WO95/1109)

Lt.-Col. F.R. Hicks, 1st Hants (WO95/1495)

Pte. Pattenden, 1st Hants (WO95/1495).

1915

Extracts of private diary of Pte. J.R. Stephenson, 1/5th Yorkshire Regiment M.M. 18/4/15 to 5/1/16 (WO95/2836)

1916

Lieut. V.S. Hawkins, 2nd Lancs Fusiliers, Diary of 1/7/16 (WO95/1507)

Lionel Lord Tennyson, volume 1, has some funny stories re mobilisation. When he finally gets to the 1st RB his story of events does not 100% gel with the diary but is still good.

Andy

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