Extraordinary memoirs of a Birmingham soldier’s experiences of the Great War will be auctioned off this week.
Detailed diaries written by Captain Arthur Hill, of Erdington, will go under the hammer at Warwick & Warwick Auction House in Warwick on Wednesday. They include amazing extracts of Captain Hill’s life in the trenches during the First World War over a three-year period.
The Birmingham soldier, awarded the Military Cross by King George V, carefully kept all his First World War memories until his death in 1967 and as well as the diaries there are three medals, newspaper cuttings detailing his bravery during battle, and even a Christmas card.
The records show that the soldier spent the war with 60th Company Machine Gun Corps, 20th Light Division.
The Erdington man’s descendants are auctioning off his precious collection which experts believe could fetch in excess of £1,200.
Medals expert Richard Beale, of the Warwick-based auction house, said the collection was highly unusual.
He added: “The diaries contain a fascinating insight into life in the trenches during the Great War.
“The whole collection is highly unusual and it’s very exciting for us because it stems back to the First World War. Arthur recorded his experiences in small pocket diaries spanning over three years. He probably did this because they were small and compact and easy to keep during battle.
“But it’s amazing that he actually found time to do it, and that the entries are so detailed. There is a lot of personal observation of his life in the extracts and he has written something every day for three years without fail.
“In later years he transferred the extracts into two exercise books so that they were more legible. Arthur also kept all his war memorabilia which was passed on to his family.”
The collection has a guide price of £1,200, but Richard, who has worked in the medals section for 20 years, believes the treasure trove of medals, diaries, and various certificates, could fetch a lot more.
* SELECTED DIARY EXTRACTS
February 29 1916: Southampton Water and English Channel – held back by submarines. Attempted to cross on the 27, 28 and 29th but sent back each time
March 10 1916: Nothing doing all day except slight straffing by Germans. In dugout most of the day; going round gun emplacements in the evening. Found all correct at Fock Farm, The Willows, Lone Willow and Gawthorpe. Met suspected German spy at McGregor post. Dugout window fired at about midnight.
March 20 1916: Dull day – nothing doing. Our advanced post is taken by Germans early in morning, four men taken to indirect fire in evening.
March 22 1916: Rain most of day ... Sergt Montgomery slightly wounded, otherwise no damage done during the day. My dug-out roof comes in – trench mortars.
April 11 1916: Raining hard – dull. Went to Poperinghe (near Ypres) for tea – bought lace etc. Germans shelled it heavily while we were there, 14 men killed. Hun attack repulsed 4am
June 2 1916:Heavy bombardment just on my right. Probably near Canadian trenches. Starts about 8am and gets very heavy. Finish 4pm. Starts again 8pm for half an hour. I hear the Germans have taken part of Canadian front line. Bombardment very intense. Do not do indirect fire, but stand to all night. Germans send tear or weeping shells over. Red smoke and pleasant smell.
June 3 1916: Lovely morning. Still heavy shelling which continues till 4pm. Then the Germans are very quiet till 8pm.
June 6 1916: Heavy straff on about 1am for half hour. Quiet till 3pm. Then we had Hell for about two hours. Mines exploded, heavy casualties, but we kept them back. No relief yet.