Soldiers diary of the First World War

Soldier's diary of the First World War
Daily Telegraph Link
The harrowing but humorous memoir of a British Army officer who survived the horrors of trench warfare during the First World War has been published for the first time.

Capt Alexander Stewart's handwritten diary, a copy of which was recently discovered by his grandson, describes the grim reality of the Somme and other battles with a wry sense of humour similar to Capt Edmund Blackadder in the famous BBC comedy.

Among harrowing accounts of his comrades being ripped apart by shells, the officer jokes about nearly losing his life and even quips about getting shrapnel lodged in his throat - the injury that would eventually cause him to be sent home.

In one entry he describes his annoyance at having to stop smoking to shoot a German who had gained entry to the trench.

Capt Stewart started the war diary in 1915 when he was sent to France and then Belgium with the 3rd Scottish Rifles. He was finally sent home in 1917.

Capt Stewart then went on to hand-type his war memoir - entitled The Experiences of a Very Unimportant Officer - which he completed in 1928, giving three copies to his family. It had been forgotten until his grandson, Jaime Stewart, found a copy gathering dust on a shelf and realised the account was a historical gem that needed to be published.
Other extracts from Capt Alexander Stewart's war memoir include:

June 2, 1916: "The dugouts in this part of the line were infested with rats. They would frequently walk over one when asleep. I was much troubled by them coming and licking the brilliantine off my hair; for this reason, I had to give up using grease on my head. I never heard them biting anyone."

Nov 9, 1916: "I am very much annoyed by memos sent round from Headquarters that come in at all hours of the day and night; they stop me getting a full night's rest and some of them are very silly and quite unnecessary. When I am very tired and just getting off to sleep with cold feet, in comes an orderly with a chit asking how many pairs of socks my company had a week ago; I reply 141 and a half. "I then go to sleep; back comes a memo: 'please explain at once how you come to be deficient of one sock'. I reply 'man lost his leg'. That's how we make the Huns sit up."

Oct 29, 1917: "It was madness to attempt the attack. "It could only have been instigated by a higher command that had simply looked at a map, put down a finger and said: 'We will attack there'."

• The 260-page memoir, The Experiences of a Very Unimportant Officer, is available to download from, price £9.95.
Very apt,especially when one considers the time of year.


Book Reviewer

This is already on an earlier thread in this forum. The thread is 'Grand Father's Great War.'



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