Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Somme diary



From the Telegraph:

A British soldier's pocket diary of life in the trenches during the early days of the Battle of the Somme have been made public for the first time. Pte Walter Hutchinson was a young shop manager when he enlisted in the 10th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. His poignant record of the battle, in 1916, includes a moving account of the first day during which more than 62,000 comrades died. Pte Hutchinson's handwritten account gives a graphic story of his own survival as wave after wave of soldiers went "over the top" only to be cut down by German fire.
The battle of the Somme (July 1-November 13, 1916) stands as one of the most horrific battles in history, with more than a million casualties. (Note: The figure given in the article seems to be an estimate of first-day British casualties, not of soldiers killed.)

The diary is being offered for sale at an auction in London tomorrow.
Forgotten diary captures horror of the Somme (telegraph.co.uk, via notebookism)

Excerpts: Diary from the Somme (telegraph.co.uk)

Battle of the Somme (Wikipedia)
Update:
The diary of a First World War soldier who fought in the Battle of the Somme has been sold for £7,000.

Written by Walter Hutchinson, the diary went for almost ten times its original guide price at an auction in London.

Somme diary sold for £7k (UKTV)

comments: 3

Genevieve said...

Is it just me? Someone is going to make big money on that poor young man's record of the horrors he was enduring. I don't feel right about that.

Michael Leddy said...

Genevieve, I too have misgivings about this diary being translated, so to speak, into money. To my mind, it belongs in a library archive or museum.

I just taught some of the poetry of the Great War -- Rupert Brooke, David Jones, Wilfred Owen, Siegried Sassoon -- and seeing this diary for sale reminded me that World War One is still relatively recent history. (My grandfather was a bugler.)

Anonymous said...

Mr L.
Maybe it is time for a 'Literature of War'class.
A few years ago a Brit friend suggested I read Sassoons 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' written about Sassoons World War I experiences.

The most interestng quote considering our current Iraq war:

'And now Markington gloomily informed me that our Aims were essentially acqusitive, what we were fighting for was the Mesopotamian Oil Wells.'

History repeats.
(from p 202 of the Faber & Faber edition first pub 1930 re pub 2000)