- Timothy Elliott meticulously filled in his diary during the war from 1914 to 1918
- Diary going under the hammer at C&T Auctions, Ashford, Kent, for £8,000
A World War One rifleman’s harrowing pocket diary details the solemn reality of life fighting on the frontline.
Rifleman Timothy Elliott went over the top with the 9th Battalion City of London Queen Victoria Rifles on July 1, 1916, in the Battle of the Somme.
Britain’s bloodiest battle in military history claimed the lives of 125,000 soldiers. Elliott solemnly reflected on ‘the few who were left’ after the first day of fighting.
The casualties included over 200 soldiers from the London Regiment of the Queen Victoria Rifles.
His diary, meticulously filled in daily between 1914 and 1918, has come to light from an undisclosed source after 105 years.
One extract for July 1, 1916 reads: ‘Charged at 7-30am took 3 German lines. But retired in afternoon or rather the few who were left.’
The following day saw heavy German shelling and the men retired from their ‘battered’ line.
On September 8, 1916, as the Battle of the Somme descended into a stalemate, Elliott was wounded in the face by a shell.
After a spell in a military hospital, he returned to frontline action but his morale was dented.
He describes a sense of trepidation as large numbers of troops built up ahead of the major offensive at Passchendaele from July to November 1917.
In August 1917, he writes: ‘The mud is awful. Hardly any trenches just a mass of shell holes. The Hun artillery is playing hell with our lines.’
Elliott, who served on the Western Front from June 1915 until the end of the war, also wrote about the famous trench rats which plagued both the British and German soldiers.
There is an outpouring of relief as he writes simply on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918: ‘Hurrah! The war is over!’
The diary has emerged for sale for £8,000 at C&T Auctions, of Ashford, Kent.
Matthew Tredwen, specialist at C&T Auctions, said: ‘These are a super set of diaries which really capture the feeling and the hardship of combat on the Western Front.
‘So many diaries give very little combat detail but these diaries are full of interesting entries.’
An estimated 125,000 British soldiers were killed during the Battle of the Somme, which ran from July to November 1916.
The sale takes place on Wednesday.