War Diary


My research related to two cousins killed during WWII slowed down for a week or two. I ordered some books related to the campaigns in which their regiments were fighting leading up to their deaths, but haven’t had the chance to read them yet. However those books can only give a general background of what was going on where they were serving.

With Horace details are a little easier to find. He served with 181 Airlanding Field Ambulance and I’ve found several sources of information about them and the tragic events that led to his death on the first day of the attempted invasion of Sicily.

Albert’s story hasn’t been so easy to follow up. He served with 140 Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery in North Africa, where he died of wounds received just prior to the surrender of the Axis powers in May 1943. Details of that particular regiment seem scarce.

This morning I received copies of his regiment’s war diary covering the period from January through to the time of Albert’s death. On the day he died the entry starts: “At 10.30 a.m. we fired our last rds in anger…”

For Albert it was so near and yet so far.


I now need to take a closer look at the diary to get an idea of where Albert was serving leading up to his death.
Maybe the next step in my research will be to obtain the personal military records for both Albert and Horace. Unfortunately that won’t be as easy as getting the war diary. It is also not cheap.

3 thoughts on “War Diary

  1. Tim, I’ve greatly enjoyed all your posts about searching out family-history.

    Thanks for sharing the pleasure of your discoveries ! That, and the immediacy of perspective they give you (and you give readers in your posts) is the highest kind of history.

    Faulkner was right that “the past isn’t dead: it’s not even past.” We all live in history: and all history is personal. These posts help me FEEL history.

  2. Hi Steve, maybe the past year has made me far more aware of the closeness of “history”.

    I’ve written a few posts sharing my recent journeys ”into” the past starting with WWI and moving on to more recent family history.

    Not only have I found a lot of historical information – I came to realise how close those apparently distant events were.

    I’m now 58 years old, born in 1958.
    My birth came 40 years after the end of WWI, so my birth was closer to WWI than it is to the present day.

    I was born only 13 years after the end of WWII – again so close to what always seemed to be just “history”.

    Looking backwards through my life I realise how easily we become disconnected from comparatively recent events, taking our current situation for granted.
    I see that by pushing aside the (recent) past we risk becoming complacent about the risks (inevitabilities?) of the future.

  3. Yes ! That sense of history’s “nearness” is exactly what I’ve learned most from studying my own family-history. It still amazes me to think that one of my grandfathers (though dead before my birth in the late ’40s) was born during our Civil War, now more than 150 years in the past.

    As Faulkner says, we’re wrong to think of history as distant, “dead,” and irrelevant. And as you point out, it’s particularly relevant to our current choices, which shape the future.

    The quote we often see is Satayana’s, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” There seems a truth there.

    Not that the circumstances of any time are ever EXACTLY like any other. Rather, that in the deepest ways, the actors and issues of history, human and Divine, are unchanged and unchanging. Someone well said that history never literally repeats itself…but “it rhymes.”

    Indeed, “remembering” seems the teaching of scripture, in the “guiding” sense you take. God enjoins the Jews repeatedly to remember their history with Him, and teach it forward; most notably in Passover. The New Testament teaches that the Jews’ history with God “…happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (I Corinthians 10:6), and is replete with examples from Israel’s history.

    I’ve long been struck by the similarity of the “States Rights” movement that threatened America’s existence some 160 years ago, and led to the Civil War; and today’s Reaganite “conservatism.” They “rhyme” in their spiritual characteristics, violent hatred of authority and rebelliousness. Sad to say, American Christianity, then and now, followed the enemy’s political spirit.

    And as I think about it, the HOPE we’ve both remarked in the current dire situation of American Christians is very much in that “guiding” value of God manifest in history…for those who will see it, and heed it.

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