Discovered at the bottom of a box of books recently donated to the Bodleian
Library, Oxford, this war journal vividly tells the story of a young First World
War soldier and his experiences at the Front in the summer of 1917 in his own
The anonymous author candidly describes his daily life: dodging shells to
fetch meals from the rations cart; his regiment list on a march, straying
perilously near enemy lines; the daily distribution of rum; the soar of shells
('whiz bangs') above his head; communicating by sign with a captured German
soldier living in his trench; sleeping in snatches of ten or fifteen minutes;
and always, the endless mud.
The introduction traces the author's progress across the battlefields of
Flanders as he and his regiment, the 12th East Surrey's, move deeper into enemy
territory, suffering heavy casualties and fighting against remarkable odds. One
by one, the author's comrades fall away until he, one of the last survivors of
his group, narrowly avoids neath, only to be captured.
This poignant and moving account, never before published, is narrated with a
keen sense of observation, bringing to life the sights, sounds, smells and
horrors of war.