- Timothy Elliott kept careful diary entries during the war from 1914 to 1918.
- Diary sold for £8,000 at C&T Auctions in Ashford, Kent
The harrowing pocket diary of a World War I rifleman details the harsh realities of life on the front lines.
Rifleman Timothy Elliott won the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 with the 9th Battalion of the City of London Queen Victoria Rifles.
The bloodiest battle in British military history claimed the lives of 125,000 soldiers. After the first day of combat, Elliot solemnly reflected on “the few who survived.”
Casualties included over 200 soldiers from the London Regiment of the Queen Victoria Rifles.
His diary, carefully filled out daily from 1914 to 1918, has been uncovered from an undisclosed source 105 years later.
An excerpt from July 1, 1916 reads: “It took his three lines of German troops to charge at 7:30 a.m. But in the afternoon he retired, or rather the few who remained retired.
The next day, heavy German shelling forced the soldiers to retreat from the “tattered” front line.
On September 8, 1916, as the Battle of the Somme reached a stalemate, Elliott was wounded in the face by a shell.
After recuperating in a military hospital, he returned to the front, but his morale was low.
He describes the sense of anxiety as large numbers of troops assembled in advance of the major offensive at Passchendaele between July and November 1917.
In August 1917 he wrote: “The mud is terrible. There are hardly any ditches, just lots of shell holes. The Huns’ artillery is doing terrible things to our front lines.”
Elliott, who served on the Western Front from June 1915 until the end of the war, also wrote about the famous trench rat that plagued British and German soldiers.
There is an outpouring of relief when, on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, he writes simply: The war is over! ”
The diary was sold for £8,000 at C&T Auctions in Ashford, Kent.
C&T Auction Specialist Matthew Tredwen said: “These are a wonderful set of diaries that really capture the feeling and hardship of fighting on the Western Front.”
“Although so many diaries contain very few details of the battle, these diaries are full of interesting entries.”
An estimated 125,000 British soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme, which lasted from July to November 1916.
The sale will take place on Wednesday.