Well, today was Remembrance Day. It’s a time when we remember those who died in service to “King and Country”. Like most Canadians I have many relatives who fought for different countries in many wars.
One of the best documented accounts is that of my great-grandfather Frederick Groves Kerley who fought in World War I. He kept a fairly concise diary in the trenches. My mother transcribed them a few years ago and they give a very candid account of war on the front lines.
I always forget that these guys didn’t just go over there, fire some guns and come home. They lived there for years on end. They had to sleep, eat and play in the European mud. It seems like my great-grandfather did what he could to make the best of what must have been a terrible situation.
You can download the whole diary as a PDF right here.
If you don’t want to do that here are some excerpts:
Tuesday Nothing more of interest today. Played football in the afternoon against the R.L.J. Lots of fun. We won easily. 8 goals to 1.
Monday, June 12 We had a night in Ypres. Half the company was out to the front line. Forest, Bolting, Decker were killed tonight. Greg Heald,Bone, MacGregor, Cufley were held as reserves. Bradburywas wounded. Tonight our boys took some German prisoners.
Tuesday raining all day – some weather for June – just getting ready to go out – had a warm reception – went out to the front line to fix trenches – dead lying everywhere. We had shells bursting all round so we could not do any work.
The French girls dress smart – quite different to Belgium. Saint Omer is quite a nice town.
Your great grandfather was my great uncle. My grandmother was Agnes Kerley, his sister. I think my sister, Judy Wynne-Davies, may have already contacted you, so I will see if this is the case before repeating what she may have said. Fascinating diary.