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Northampton, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, 2012/03/10 - A fascinating collection of rare diaries written by a soldier from behind the trenches in World War 1 has been unearthed – much to the delight of military historians - Militaria-Rarities.com.
The personal recorded notes of Wilfrid Adams record the deaths of friends, troop movements, his promotion to sergeant and even the signing of Armistice Day on 11 November 1918.
Other entries include the soldier’s role as a human guinea pig to test gas masks, and his escorting of the German Field Marshal Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria to the Grand Chateau, Beloeil in Belgium.
The documents – a series of four books which record the soldier’s movements through a number of years in trench warfare – are being handled (literally with white gloves) by Stoke-on-Trent-based war-time specialists and historians Militaria Rarities Ltd.
The diaries are unique because ordinary frontline soldiers were banned from keeping diaries during WW1 for fear of them falling into enemy hands and revealing troop movements.
Peter James of Militaria Rarities said: “We were so excited when we came across these diaries. They really are incredible first-hand accounts of life in the trenches during World War One.
Some of the entries, which matter-of-factly record such devastating events as the deaths and injuries of entire troops, are fascinating to read.
“Reading them, you get an idea of the drama at the time. They also horribly highlight what an everyday occurrence death was in the trenches. That is something many of us would find difficult to comprehend today.
Wilfrid Adams was already a serving soldier based at Salisbury prior to embarking on trench warfare in the events of World War One. He is believed to originate from Weymouth in Dorset and later lodged at ‘Lythdale, ’ Vale Road, Upper Parkstone near Poole.
His diaries are all beautifully-written in fountain pen. In 1914 they record a meeting with a lover in whose name is known only as Edie. She later became his wife after a wartime marriage in 1916.
Wilfrid has no known relatives but Peter and the team at Militaria Rarities Ltd are convinced there must still be living connections to the soldier, particularly in the Dorset area.
“We’d love nothing better to find someone who believes they could be related to Wilfrid,” he said. “We are sure they will find the diaries compulsive reading and we would like them to see them, for the sake of this brave soldier if nothing else.
“There’s also the matter of Wilfrid’s missing diaries for the years 1915 to 1916. We are hoping they are lying around an attic or cupboard somewhere, still undiscovered. It would be nice to fill in the intervening years.”
Wilfrid’s first posting was with the 4th Wiltshire Regiment. He was later attached to the 58th (London) Division of the Royal Engineers.
He first went on foreign soil – to France – on December 22, 1914. Various battles are documented in the diaries. At one on Friday, December 8 he writes: “Last time under shell fire. Rather exciting.”
Militaria Rarities Ltd are a team of experts who collect and sell rare military antiques of historical interest and significance from around the world.
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