13th Dec, 2023 10:30 GMT/BST

Books, Maps & Manuscripts

  Lot 48


An Unknown Yorkshire Soldier.
A First World War ‘Trench’ Diary, dating from the 12th of April 1915 and ending abruptly after a gas attack on the 19th of December that year.

The diary commences with an early morning entrainment of the horses from Edenthorpe (near Doncaster), crossing the Channel to [Le] Havre that evening. The unidentified soldier or sapper, a signaller, gives an account of laying signal lines, opening signal offices, handling horses, towns and villages visited, billets and meals, injuries, regiments encountered, names of O.C.s, shelling, rain, mud, etc.
9th of May, ‘Off duty at 7am. Attack began at 5am by Artillery. Signal thro’ during day showed heavy losses in E. Lancs, Lincolns, 13th London and other Batts. Had coffee in Fleurbaix and then to bed in barn. On duty 3pm ?offll. Attack still proceeding without much impression on our line. French said to be doing well. At night we have the two windows in our Signal Office made up with corrugated iron & sand bags.’ [? Battle of Aubers Ridge]
12th of September, ‘Went with Newboult & birdcage to 147 [Brigade] with cable, Everything very quiet. Good dugouts had a walk over bridge, a substantial one fit to take artillery’.
On the 1st of December, the diarist travelled back to Sheffield on leave, returning on the 8th December.
The final entry reads;
‘Dec 19, ’’SOS’’ - Gas attack 5.30am things lively until 8.30am, 146 & 148 des. 148 soon repaired from chateau’.

[On the 19th December, Phosgene gas was used for the first time against British soldiers. The attack took place north of Ypres against the 49th (West Riding) Division, commencing at 5.15 am.]

Manuscript on paper, single sided on c.27 leaves, 154mm x 94mm, limp cloth covers. Worn, several leaves loose.

The diarist appears to have belonged to a Royal Artillery company attached to the 49th West Riding Division, possibly the 49th Divisional Signals Coy. Entrainment of the 49th Division began on the 12th of April with non-Infantry units travelling via Le Havre.

Sold for £220
Estimated at £150 - £250


Auction: Books, Maps & Manuscripts, 13th Dec, 2023

The Books, Maps and Manuscripts sales encompass a broad range of collecting areas from early antiquarian books to modern first editions, which are sold alongside illustrations, private press, manuscripts, maps and atlases, early photographs, autographed letters and historic documents. Held four times a year, the specialist Book sales incorporate both private collections and libraries, and single lots from vendors across the United Kingdom.


Tuesday 12 December 10am-5pm and morning of sale from 8am

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