WW1 Diary Of Private W. Dadswell 8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

WW1 Diary Of  Private W. Dadswell 8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.
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DADSWELL, W. Diary, for dates in 1917, 1918 detailing briefly his service up to his capture, imprisonment in Germany as a Prisoner Of War, release after Armistice and repatriation. Pp 34 with entries in what seems to be indelible pencil summarising events of his service and imprisonment, food and letters received, lists of addresses of relatives and of risen camps, pay received, etc. Approx 12cm x 7.5 cm. well worn brown embossed leather-covered notebook, marbled endpapers, pocket flap (empty), and pocket for pencil ( lacking). Worn, and  rather loose in the binding, paint splash to outer cover. Many further blanks.
This is an unusual diary, in that it details the life of a P.O.W. during WW1. The first entry is Dadswell’s name and address whilst training at Shoreham by Sea , UK. It is followed by other addresses, and a couple of pages of “Pay in France in 1917”. The address of a German prisoner of war camp [Gefangenenlager] in Dülmen, Westphalia is recorded, and another at Friedrichsfeld as well as Dadswell’s Erkennungskarte number, 48465. The notebook entries are a little disordered, with entries varying in content. A coherent narrative begins to emerge in  the last 13 closely written pages, but even here, there are two pages which note various actions and movements  by the regiment, (including “ going over the top” twice) from 1917, leading up to and including his capture, in the middle of other pages detailing his  subsequent life as P.O.W.. None of the entries are long or detailed- they are the notes of an ordinary Private.
“ When we were captured,….had an exciting time for a few minutes, we were then taken to a little village where we stayed the night but nothing to eat before the next morning.” For someone who had no control over where his next meal was coming from, food naturally played a huge part in Dadswell’s life as a P.O.W. He is given bread and coffee, along with about two thousand other prisoners and he records that there was “ a little fighting for it”. More bread and coffee is given the next day, and the group of prisoners begin their journey to Germany in railway trucks. “ I was not sorry when we got there”. Dadswell records the letters he received, with the dates of receipt, and notable food parcels or allocations. He records receiving 50 biscuits onApril 18th, and a food parcel on April 22nd from a named donor via the British Prisoners War food parcels and clothing fund. This contained condensed milk, tea, sugar, a tin of army rations, a tin of baked beans, Kerry powder, a packet of biscuits, a tin of beef dripping, 50 Woodbine cigarettes, a tin of sardines and a packet of rice. Dadswell records Christmas meals- an emotive time for prisoners. On Christmas Eve 1917 he receives beans and maize soup, on Christmas Day for breakfast he eats cocoa and a slice of “B.Bread” ( black bread?) for dinner, “ Seal fish & Black pea soup” and for his tea Barley water soup.The whole festive season is recorded through into the New Year. 
It seems that British other ranks were expected to work: Dadswell writes about “ arbite” (for “arbeit”):9th Nov “ we started for arbite in the morning but was none we had 3 issues of biscuits after dinner we left Lessines and marched to Bauilly and stayed in a church for the night. our aeroplanes came over like a swarm of Rooks”.
Armistice was signed on 11th November, but it was not until 13th that Dadswell and his companions were “ handed over to our own officer,” and then he continues “but we started away on our own we done about 20 Kiloes [for kilometres] called at a farm house and put up for the night we had a good day and plenty of food”. The narrative continues through to embarkation “ for old Blighty “ arriving in Dover to a big welcome, including an address from the Prince of Wales and a message from the Queen. The Prince “ came around to a good many of us asking us how we had been fairing you would not have know him from an ordinary English Officer, we then all gave him 3 hearty cheers”.
On 19th of November, Dadswell writes” we had a card given to us from the King, we also had a Parliamentary Election card to fill in, also a card to fill in and give the most Important places that we were at work at while we prisoners”…..
It is obvious from Dadswell’s diary that he is not an educated man- an ordinary private- a Tommy, and the diary is all the more interesting for that;  most of the diaries that we have handled previously have belonged to officers. Private soldiers were not allowed to keep diaries on active service, and so it is only when he is captured that Dadswell begins to record his experiences. 

 

£595.00


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