Genealogy Research

Diary of a ‘Red Cross Man’

Today, it’s time for something a little different (although still, of course, on the subject of ancestry).

My paternal grandfather, James BRAID, was born in 1888. Aged 26 at the outbreak of World War I and despite being a pacifist (he would not bear arms), he volunteered for service. Conscription did not begin until early 1916.

He was therefore enlisted into the 2nd Northumbrian Field Ambulance, 86th Brigade, 28th Division BEF (British Expeditionary Force) as a stretcher bearer.

At the time of his enlistment James had been married for a little over a year (to Margaret) and already had one daughter, Aline.

He arrived in France on 19 January 1915 and saw service at Ypres on the Western Front. From December 1915 onwards he was based in Salonika, in Greece, where the allied forces were fighting against Bulgaria. The war on that front ended with the surrender of Bulgaria on 30 September 1918. He was finally discharged from service on 9 May 1919.

Aged 51, James again volunteered for service in World War II (or the Great War, Part 2 if you prefer). He was wounded and evacuated from Dunkirk (along with one or two others) and after recovering, was assigned Home Defence duties around Dover and Gravesend, manning 3.7″ anti-aircraft batteries.

James died in 1951, aged just 62.

What follows are the transcribed extracts from what was left of his diary. It begins with general comments before moving on to daily recordings of life at the front.

Bread twice a week. Stew for dinner (greasy stuff) make good pig meal. Practically living on biscuits and jam – biscuits like iron. Nobody knows but the soldiers themselves what hardships we go through out here.

A pal and I got lost in Hassine (?), the first day in France. We had to sleep in a wagon on the quayside and had to wait 15 hours until a woman came and took us to our billet.  What a state we were in. The French people are very close fisted. Not a patch on the Belgians, who will give us anything. 

The first man to be killed in our Brigade was an APC man (ambulance crew), and he committed suicide. He shot himself through the abdomen. He was fed up with everything.

We got lost one day in a wood and came across some Belgian Engineers who shared their dinner with us and showed us the way back to our billet. German snipers are pretty busy round this quarter, and it is pretty risky to walk about the roads after dark.

The soldiers here don’t get a quarter of the things that are sent to them. Some of the ‘heads’ (officers) make a good thing out of them, I expect.

Our Brigade is composed of troops who have come direct from India. They are the 2nd Buffs, Middlesex, East Surreys, Royal Fusiliers and Northumberland Fusiliers. We are the only ‘Terries’ (Territorials) on this Division. It is an honour for us to be along with such experienced troops.

The roads here are in a fearful state. What with the rain and heavy traffic, it is knee deep in places. We very seldom get a chance to take our clothes off, so you may know we are just about ‘wick’ (infested) with vermin. We feel miserable. I search my shirt every day so they don’t accumulate.

What a country this is for religion. All along the road you come across crucifixes and little places like sentry boxes where people go in and worship.

The Germans have done terrible havoc to property here. It is pitiful to see the refugees leaving here. They do cheer us when we pass a train load of them.

It is a sight to see the graves of our soldiers. All have little crosses on them. One we came across had 150 Officers and men of the Warwickshires. You come across bodies here and there that are only partly buried and they look awful. 

It is very weird going to the trenches at night getting the wounded. It is pitch dark and the next minute up goes a star shell and lights the scene up for hundreds of yards, and it is just like broad daylight and we have to lie flat on the ground, and then the rifles start and my heart nearly jumped out of its socket. Have been very lucky up to now – only two of our lads being wounded and that was with stray bullets.

FEBRUARY 12 (1915): Bitter cold here today and snowing heavily. The King’s Own slept with us after being cleared in the trenches which are up to the knees with water. We got hundreds of cases of soldiers with frostbitten feet and they suffer terribly. All our work is done at night. Some wounded we come across have arms and legs blown off. I am sick of it many a time with these awful sights I see. God help the poor beggars. I have helped to bury a few up to now. It is murder in the trenches.

FEBRUARY 15: We were out getting in the wounded and we were up to the knees in water and it was awful. We could hardly walk ourselves, let alone carry the stretchers. It was pitch dark and raining in torrents; star shells were being sent up every few minutes and lighted up the ground for yards round. Shells were continually bursting over us and the ping of the bullets was enough to unnerve anyone, but we had all our work set getting the wounded away to bother about bullets. We couldn’t see a hand in front of us and we were groping our way in the dark, bent double to miss the bullets and shrapnel. I will never forget this night to my dying day. We all got a liberal dose of rum after our night’s work. We were drenched and up to our thighs in mud and water and it stank awful. 

What a life. We do our best and no mistake. There is no one more eager for peace than our own troops. Poor chaps in the trenches; I wonder how they stand it. They come into hospital in batches and with the mud and blood caked on them they smell terrible.

You can imagine our job. It is only occasionally they get a chance to bury the dead, and the corpses lie in the trenches half full of water. It gives the men poisoned feet. We have dozens of cases of it and it is awful to see them suffer. It will give you an idea what conditions they labour under. They go to the trenches for 48 hours and sometimes they don’t get relieved for 10 days or more, and they are beat to the world. 

We have had dozens of cases of men shooting themselves in the hands and feet, just to get out of it. You can’t imagine at home what it is like, but seeing is believing.

We get wounded from the trenches and carry them for about 2 miles over hedges and dykes up to where our ambulance cars can wait, and they take them direct to the hospital. We are dead beat after a hard night’s work. It is trying, as we are always under fire and have to keep dropping down to keep out of sight. We went into a barn one night and there were 3 wounded and 10 dead in it and we had to get them out. We were only 300 yards from the German trenches and the bullets were thudding in the walls outside, all the time. I dreaded going out on my way. We got through all right.

We were playing football one day when a German aeroplane appeared above us. Our own airman spotted him and our artillery shelled him and the lumps of shell fell into the field and we had to scatter, double quick.

FEBRUARY 27: We had a marvellous escape. Our stretcher squad (4 of us) had just left the barn where we got a patient, when a shell came and blew it to atoms. We were covered with debris. They don’t recognise the Red Cross here, as they fire on us at every possible chance. We put one chap in the stretcher shot through the spine.  We just got him lifted when he gave a groan and died. Officer said “just put him to one side and get another” – so matter-of-fact.

Life is nothing out here. They think more about a horse. What awful sights we do see; some places we come across resemble a shambles (slaughter house).

The people in England don’t realise the sufferings of the soldiers out here. One soldier strangled himself with his lanyard rather than go back to the trenches again. One of our motor ambulances was blown up the other night by a shell. Many a time I wish I had a rifle so that I could have a pop at the cowards. We carry no arms of any kind, and we are at the snipers’ mercy. They are up trees and lying hiding about, just on the off chance of picking you off.

FEBRUARY 24: Heard that I had another daughter (Doris, born 20 February). We had our first casualty – one lad being shot through the ankle. One trench which we go to get the wounded is called the ‘Death Trap’ on account of the number of lives lost there. They shelled the road where our ambulance wagons were standing and one poor chap out of the Kings Own had his head blown clean off.

It is snowing heavy here today and it is about 4” thick. Very pleasant (I don’t think). My feet are about frozen off and we write home telling you we are all right and not to worry, and we are miserable and just about frozen to death. My feet have never been dry since I left England, as we are constantly over boot tops in water and mud. Just fancy, we haven’t had a change of clothing for 8 weeks and they say we get plenty. The people send them to us, but goodness knows where they get to. Somebody must make something out of them.

We are billeted in an old barn with half the roof missing (it happened to be in the road of a shell). We can hardly sleep, what with the cold and the noise of the artillery. It is a sight to see our troops coming out of the trenches after they have been relieved, they are ragged and covered with mud and only a quarter of those that went in, many a time. It is murder and I am heartsick of it.

We just about live on jam and bread and stew every dinner time (greens and meat). We had an Officer and a Sergeant wounded by bullets, both shot in the stern.

I had a pal who got his foot blown off at Ypres and his mate killed during the bombardment. 

We had another shot in the ankle and one night I will never forget to my dying day, 4 lads were putting a stretcher in a car when a shell struck it. It killed our 4 lads, wounded both drivers, killed another lad who was a wagon orderly, and also killed the wounded man on the stretcher. I don’t know how we got through the night. How I prayed to God to keep me safe.

Since being out here I have seen 4 aeroplanes shot down by our troops. They are a sight worth seeing. We were at Hill 60 – a very big battle – and we brought out over 100 wounded from the trenches in broad daylight. There were men lying about, blown to bits. God, what a sight it was. We go through Ypres right up to Zonnebech (Zonnebeke), St. Julien (Sint Juliaan) and St. Jean (Sint Jan) to get the wounded. You will have seen these places mentioned a lot in the papers.

Western Front, 1915-1918

The Germans shelled Ypres and we had to clear. They put hundreds of shells into it and we lost a lot of troops. In one place a number of Royal Engineers were asleep after a hard night’s work, when 5 shells dropped amongst them and killed 10 outright and wounded 40. We brought them in and the shells were flying all round. We were out all day in the streets getting in civilians and soldiers.

The Germans were shelling us with those 17” shells. What a sight when they burst. You could put 2 tram cars easily into the hole they make (15’ deep and about 20’ across).

It is terrible in Ypres. There isn’t a house left standing, and dead horses and carts strew the roads and the stench is awful, as it is very hot now. It gives me the creeps to go through the place, as they always shell it on account of our troops going through, and we just have to run the gauntlet.

Ypres was the scene of much of the bloodiest fighting of the war. Three great battles were fought for its possession.

APRIL 22: A terrific battle took place (the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge). The Germans used poisonous gas, and the French, who held an important position on the left of the Canadians, had to retire. The Canadians saved the situation, but at terrible sacrifice. They lost about 3,000, but saved the day. The British lost a battery of 4.7” guns and the gallant Canadians re-took them, but the Germans had blown them up. You never came across such brave troops. Everyone likes the Canadians. They made their name that day. Hundreds of Canadians were asphyxiated.

Two British regiments went to reinforce the Canadians left flank and when they rushed up and gave three cheers to the gallant Canadians. We dressed 320 cases that day and there were only 6 of us and our Captain, and he praised us for our hard and good day’s work.

Ypres is one mass of ruins and blazing, not one single building being left intact. What a sight, and the stench from dead bodies is awful.

Canadian forces at the Second Battle of Ypres, April 1915. Painting by Richard Jack.

MAY 8: We had another 2 lads wounded with shrapnel, which makes our casualties 22. Thank God I am fortunate up to now.

MAY 9: Our men retired from Zonnebeke and Sint Juliaan (the Battle of St. Julien) about 2 miles (a pre-arranged plan). I expect the Germans will make a lot out of it. The Germans lost 1000’s and a few of our Regiments – the Dublin Fusiliers, Northumberland Fusiliers, Suffolk and East Surreys, Welsh and Kings Own, Yorkshire and Lancashire, all suffered severe losses. 300 of the Suffolk were surrounded, so they surrendered.

When we left Ypres all along one street was blazing and we had to dash through with the cars. What an exciting 3 minutes, as the street was full of shell holes and we could hardly bear the heat. It was the sight of a lifetime. All the ruins and dead horses lying about and one (?) was burning. If I had had a camera it would have been a photo that everybody says would have won that big money prize offered by one of the newspapers, for photos direct from the Front.

The Germans bombarded our trenches all day and there were more killed than wounded. The wounds were awful. One Captain in the Dragoon Guards had his arm blown off; another had the cheek of his backside blown off and a leg broken, and another, a leg off.  Our Dressing Station was like a shambles.

MAY 11: Four of us had to go to a Dressing Station to bring the wounded away at a place named St. Jean.  All Ypres was ablaze and we had to dash through. The heat was intense. It was a wonder the car didn’t catch fire. Came back and formed a party to bury 10 men. We put them all in a large shell hole, all in a heap, including an Officer. Some had laid 9 days and the stench was dreadful and it was about 1 in the morning. That is only one of the bits of our unpleasant task.

We were at that terrible battle for Hill 60 and we were bringing in the wounded in broad daylight, a thing we had never done previously. We had hundreds of wounded to bring away from the trenches and dugouts. Men were blown to bits and lying in all directions, every few yards.

My God, it was awful. I counted over 100 dead bodies just lying where they fell, all blown to atoms nearly, with the shells.

MAY 15: Came out of action for a well earned rest and I came across my old Battery, and had a good time with them again. Hope and Neasham. They were surprised to see me out here. We are resting at a place called Watou, about 14 miles from Ypres, and it is lovely.

MAY 19: We have left Watou after 3 or 4 days rest and are now in France again at a place called Herzelle (Herzeele). It is about the fiftieth village we have been billeted in. When I was at Hill 60 I got two German shell noses which I am keeping as “souvenirs”. We are having hot weather again after 2 or 3 days of heavy rain. We’re getting very moderate grub now.

MAY 22:  We are on the move again, leaving Herzelle at 1 o’clock and passed through Watou, La Beale (l’Abeele) and Boschoen (Boeschepe), for a billet near Poperinge, and arrived at 6 o’clock. It was terribly hot and we had full kit on, so you may know how we felt. It was 14 miles.

MAY 23: Italy declares war on Germany.

MAY 24: One of our sections went into action for the first time after our rest (the Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge), and they had one man killed and one wounded. The Germans had been using that infernal gas all day, and our troops suffered terribly, especially the Northumberland Brigade (the Old Castle Eden), had big losses, and also the rest of the 5th DLI (Durham Light Infantry).

MAY 25:  We were getting wounded in at Zillebeke, south east of Ypres. We had to get the wounded out of the communication trenches and we were only 100 yards from the firing line; the bullets were flying all around and digging in the ground around us with a thud.

While there the Germans made a charge and our men waited until they were up to the wire entanglements, which are just in front of the trenches, and then they opened fire on them, the German dead were piled in heaps. What with the rapid rifle fire and the machine gun fire, it was awful to witness, and it was moonlight at the time. The German star shells were falling at our feet. They are like a rocket and make a large flare.

MAY 30: We left Boeschepe for Watou again for a rest.  We were resting a week ago but were called up in reserve, as there was a big attack on Ypres. Fine weather.

JUNE 2: Had some sports in which I won a stretcher race. Lovely weather prevailed.

JUNE 3 / 4: Are busy preparing a Hospital in Watou, scrubbing out and whitewashing, etc. Very hot weather.

JUNE 6: Scorching hot, and the first batch goes on Leave. Having very hot weather up to the 9th, when we had thunderstorms and terrific rains. Nothing much doing. I forgot to put in that on the 3rd we saw a Zeppelin and it was making for the Coast, and I expect England was its destination. Nothing doing much, as we are resting and having fine weather.

JUNE 18: Today is very hot. The second battle of Ypres lasted from April 21st to May 13th. It was terrible Lena (James’ sister Florence), and I have never seen so many dead and wounded during the whole War. We were worked to death, nearly. One day and part of another, we were dressing wounds for 26 hours without a spell and had nothing to eat. 

Well, Lena, we have moved again. Now about 15 miles away and we aren’t half tired, as it is roasting hot, and landed at a place called Boeschepe in France, and we opened another Field Hospital. Over 60 tents, in an ideal spot, in a valley surrounded by trees and we can see Diksmuide in the distance. There are cherry trees and grapes growing all around. It is lovely.

We are now at Monte Cat. It is a large monastery and a Bavarian Prince was killed there. It is a lovely place and you can see for miles around, just like being on Roseberry Topping (a local landmark in North Yorkshire’s Cleveland Hills). Having delightful weather.

We still hear the rifle and artillery fire and see the shells bursting at night. It makes a fine picture.

JUNE 24: Our Nursing staff went to Bailleul to open a Big Hospital. During the last 3 weeks there has been a great move of Cavalry and they are all massing round the Ypres District. There is a big battle pending and it is likely to come off at any minute. We will be in the thick of it. We are quite prepared for it. Our men have dug yards and yards of trenches and barbed wire entanglements in case they have to fall back.

JULY 10: Since June 24 we have done nothing but fatigues (Hospital). We have to shave every morning. Just fancy, being as strict as that and on Active Service too.  Having very warm weather with an occasional shower. No matter where you look here, you see hops growing to make beer. They look queer. There are hundreds of poles about 3 feet apart and all connected by wire, and the hops grow up these poles, along the wire, and they are now about full grown and they do look well. The air is tainted with them, and they have such a beery smell. The cherries are quite ripe now and the pears and apples are coming on also. We will do them justice; presently.

JULY 16: We went into action again at a place called Kemmell (Kemmel) and things are very quiet there. I was the first one picked to go to the trenches, and we got 11 cases of wounded. We were soaked to the skin as it was raining all day and night, and I was drenched to set off with.

JULY 19: We saw several German aeroplanes hovering round our Lines and at night there was a terrific German Artillery bombardment round Dichibusch (Dikkebus). What a sight it was seeing the shells burst. It was awful, but yet a fine sight.

There were dozens of shells of all sizes and every time a “coal box” burst there was volumes of dense black smoke rose up. While I am writing this, they are still bombarding and I can see them easily, as I sit on the grass. I saw 4 German aeroplanes today and our aircraft guns shelled every one, but were not lucky enough to bring one down.

JULY 20: Our airmen very busy over the German Lines. Saw 5 up at once and the Germans didn’t half shell them, but all to no effect. You talk about maneuvering; they can nearly do what they like with their machines. They dive down a hundred feet or more and then off again in a circle and then they will descend in spirals and nearly turn over, and it is a fine sight, I can tell you. The Germans have been bombarding again today and sent several “coal boxes” over. Our airmen chased a German Monoplane Taube (Dove). Had the hardest luck not bringing it down. On guard at night.

25,000 of Kitchener’s men came through our District, so the big move will soon be coming off. They were all North Country Regiments viz. West Riding, Manchester, Yorkshire, Lancashire, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Engineers and RAMC. It took them 3 hours to go through our Village and there was one continual string of troops and Transport wagons.

JULY 22: We had to leave our billets again to make room for Headquarters of Kitchener’s Army, and we are now at West Houtre (Westouter), 4 kilometres distant, and it rained all the way.  After we left La Kleit (Klijte), the Germans dropped 2 shells near our late billet.

JULY 24: We moved again to Zoere (le Seau) and from there, in the course of a few days, we are going to Armentierres (Armentieres).

Arrived at Zoere and was out at the trenches at night and we had to carry the wounded 1 1/2 miles through a communication trench, as it was exposed to rifle fire above ground. We had 7 cases and we finished about 2 o’clock in the morning and were ready for our sleep. We have an observation balloon over our billet and I wish it was shifted, as the Germans send a few explosive shells over every day, trying to bring it down.

JULY 25:  Got C.B. and fined 5 francs for ‘lifting’ 1 pear off a pear tree!  Justice.

JULY 27: Very quiet.

JULY 28 – 31: Great activity in aeroplanes. Witnessed several air duels.

JULY 30:  There was a heavy bombardment. Canadians taking 3 trenches. It is a sight seeing the shells burst at dusk.

AUGUST 2 (Bank Holiday): We had a walk to a place called Bailleul, 5 km away and had a good time. It has about 10,000 people and has not been shelled by Les Allemandes (Germans). While we were at the trenches getting the wounded, one of the Germans threw a note into one of our trenches and it said “Look out for August 3rd”; and on the 3rd one of our trenches was blown up and there were 17 casualties. The trench contained the Welsh Regiment. It is pouring in torrents and last night 2 of our cars got stuck in a ditch near the firing line, so our lads had to carry the wounded fully 3 miles and only 2 bearers to a stretcher (very hard work).

AUGUST 7: We took 1,000 yards of German trenches at Chateau Hooge and there was terrific bombardment through the night, when our artillery blew the German trenches.

AUGUST 8 – 11: Very quiet, excepting great activity with our aeroplanes.

AUGUST 11 – 20: Heavy artillery duels all along our Front, and we had Taubes over every day, and it was quite exciting to watch them.

AUGUST 22: Very hot. We have 3 German aeroplanes over our Lines. We had an open air service in the field where we bivouacked. We had the Brigade Band in attendance and had just finished when 3 large shells dropped in the next field to us, and I can tell you they caused quite a stir and we all got the wind up. It properly unsettled us all, as it had been so quiet.

SEPTEMBER 1 – 3: Wet weather.  Heavy bombardment on both sides.

SEPTEMBER 4: Our heavy artillery bombarded German trenches. What a terrible racket, as there was a heavy artillery battery next to our billet.

SEPTEMBER 16 – 18: We had to go in the trenches and dig 4 dug-outs to be used as Aid Posts, as all suitable houses had been blown to atoms. Queer job, as the bullets were whistling round us all the time and we couldn’t see what we were doing, only when the star shells went up and then we could see only too well.

SEPTEMBER 19: Up at the trenches again, making a dug-out, when we were shelled; 1 shell hitting the top of the dug-out we were in. It was courting certain death to put your head above the parapet.

SEPTEMBER 22: We left our billet at Zoere on the 22nd and marched 11 kilometres to a place called Merville in France. Very hot weather. We left Merville and marched 22 kilometres to Bethune near La Basse (La Bassee) on September 25th. We left Bethune on the 26th and had dinner at a place called Sailly-Labourse and I think we are bound for Arras. We have advanced all along the Line and they are bringing in hundreds of German prisoners.

From La Bassee to the Champagne District we have advanced 5 miles on a 12 mile Front, and the French and English combined have taken 12,000 prisoners. We have them on the run. We left Sailly-Labourse on the 28th for Cambrin and we got shelled on the road; 20 shells coming over in about 5 minutes.

SEPTEMBER 27:  I was helping another ambulance (Kitchener) and we had hundreds of wounded to deal with. We are now round La Bassee (the Battle of Loos) and we have advanced several miles, but it has cost us huge numbers of men. We have the Guards Brigade up here and also the Scots and both have been about wired out. It is awful. We live in dug-outs and the shells are bursting all round. 

While our transport was leaving, the last billet we had was shelled on the road, 25 shells coming over in no time, and 2 horses were killed and lumps of earth were flying round us. I was lying in a ditch for safety.  Another lucky escape.

There are 3 Batteries of RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery) in the vicinity of our dug-outs and the noise is deafening.  A Corporal and I are in charge of this dug-out and we look after any wounded (walking cases) and make them a hot drink. We are 6 miles away from our pals and get rations sent up every day to us. It is lonely, but we don’t mind as long as a shell doesn’t drop on us. I am in the best of spirits.

SEPTEMBER 28 to OCTOBER 3: We are bombarding the German lines heavily. We left Cambrin, where we had been in the thick of the fighting and proceeded to Burnettes (Busnettes) via Bethune, where we stayed 2 days and then off we go again.

OCTOBER 10: Paid a visit to Lille, a big French town.

OCTOBER 16: We left Burnettes to take up a Hospital in Bethune, a very large town and constantly being shelled, it being near La Bassee.

OCTOBER 18: Took over another large Hospital (to clean it out). Left 3 days later and took over another Hospital in Bethune, and then we left there the day after and marched to Hooges (Hinges) – 4 kilometres. 

Left Arras, entered Marseilles on OCTOBER 26 after 56 hours on the train. Lovely scenery.  Marseilles, I can hardly believe my eyes gay life with a vengeance.  Had a bath in the Mediterranean and it was lovely. We left Marseilles after being there 5 days (and having the time of our lives) and embarked on the 30th October in H.M.T. “Karoa” (Glasgow), and I think we are bound for Egypt or Serbia.

HMT Karoa

First day on board, lovely weather and we are all lying about the deck and the Mediterranean is as smooth as a pond. It is ideal. Ship has hardly a roll. Brilliant sunshine and we are watching the porpoises, which jump out of the water.

NOVEMBER 1 / 2: Rough weather and I am nearly dead with sea-sickness. 6 of us were on night guard in case of submarine attack, and if we got the signal, our job was to switch on all the lights.

NOVEMBER 2:  At 2 in the morning we passed Malta. We get butter, bread, tea and porridge every breakfast, and roast and vegetables for dinner, and butter, bread and jam for tea, every day.

NOVEMBER 3 / 4: Lovely weather and it is scorching hot, and we are lying all over the deck, basking in the sun.

NOVEMBER 5: We arrived in Alexandria and the boat was surrounded by the natives begging. It is glorious. 6 days at sea. At night you would think the sea was an incandescent light, as it is full of phosphorus.

NOVEMBER 7: Marched to Camp, just outside the City.

NOVEMBER 8 – 14: Hot weather and bathing 3 times a day. Having the time of our lives. Only drawback is, we haven’t had a Post for 3 weeks.

DECEMBER 4: I am very bad with dysentery, but of course, I tell you I am all right.  I am very bad (motions) 20 times in one day. Still very hot through the day. Have had no letter from Mother (his wife, Margaret) for 5 weeks. I had to go into Hospital on December 4th, with a touch of Dysentery.

DECEMBER 13: Still in Hospital, and I have lost about a stone. Weak as a kitten; cheeks sunk right in; feel very bad too.

DECEMBER 19: We left Egypt in the S.S. “Kingstonian”, which has a gun mounted astern. We had Christmas Day on board, going through the Aegean Sea. Delightful scenery. Ship torpedoed only 30 miles from us on Christmas Eve. We arrived in Salonika on Christmas morning. Left the ship 2 days after for our Camp outside the Town.

SS Kingstonian – later torpedoed by U-68 on 11 April 1918

The original Diary is now lodged at Leeds University – it was sent to Peter Liddle at the University in April 1994. It now forms part of the “Liddle Collection” – the 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945 Personal Experience Archives, available for scholarly research.

James BRAID, 1940



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