World War I Resources
"The War to End All Wars'
Unit War Diaries from the British National Archives
The following is taken directly from the British National Archives website.
What the diaries contain
For researchers and family historians, the war diaries contain a wealth of information of far greater interest than the army could ever have predicted. They provide unrivalled insight into daily events on the front line, and are full of fascinating detail about the decisions that were made and the activities that resulted from them. War diaries are still kept by the armed services to this day, and historical war diaries such as these are still referred to.
The war diaries are arranged by operational theatre (front) first, then by GHQ, then Army, then Corps, then division, then by the units within each division. They cover the entire period of the unit's involvement in the war, from their arrival on the front to their departure at the end of the war.
The war diaries include details of the unit's activities, often on a daily basis. While not personal diaries, they do often refer to individuals and in some cases offer personal insights into life (and inevitably death) on the front line.
The War Poets
DULCE ET DECORUM EST by WILFRED OWEN
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face,
like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.