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Harry Drinkwaters Diary

In: Historical Events

Submitted By inax0626
Words 981
Pages 4
Harry Drinkwater joined a 'Pals Battalion' when the war began in 1914. At this time he was 25 years old. By the end of the war, Harry had served on the Somme, at Ypres and in Italy, writing the experiences in a diary.
He wrote about the gruesome occasions he made in war, the never-ending marches through mud, the sleepless nights and the death of his comrades.
Harry survived the war and received the Military Cross for bravery.
After he got demobbed, he worked as a civil servant. Unfortunately he never got married and died in the year 1978.
35 years after the death of Harry Drinkwater, his diary got released to the public.
The article (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2491760/Harry-Drinkwaters-lost-diary-Great-War.html) doesn’t represent the whole diary.

What struck me first was the fact, that he went to war by choice. He wanted to serve for his country and put his life on the line for it.
Overall, his diary is very interesting, because you get an insight into the everyday life of war back in this time.
The thing that made me most sad was the part where he describes the death of one of his comrades. (Tuesday, June 6 1916) I think this is one of most awful experiences a soldier can make.
When your companions die in front of your own eyes and you can nothing do against it.
Maybe you even blame yourself for it, because you think you could have prevented it. But that is how it is in war. “I could do little else than kneel by his side. He asked me not to leave him and recognised me almost to the last moment(..)”.(Tuesday, June 6) In this moment I think, Harry felt helpless.
He couldn’t do anything but watching his friend die. I assume this was one of his most emotional moments in life.

Another part that shocked me, were the conditions the soldiers had to live in because of the rain and snow. “The floor is a foot or more deep in rancid-smelling mud”. “Our food - cold bacon, bread and jam - is slung together in a sack that hangs from the dripping dugout roof. Consequently, we eat and drink mud”. (Monday, December 20 1915)
In most movies the life of a soldier doesn’t get pictured like this. I think it gets rather extenuated.
In fact I never pictured that the soldiers lived in a villa and got served fresh bread, but I thought the condition they lived in was much better than what he described in this text.

When you read his diary it’s like you’re going back in time and it’s like you had seen the described things yourself. You have a picture in the mind’s eye of the situation and can easily imagine how the soldiers sat in a circle in a small room and ate something. How they whispered to each other and talked about their life back home in England. Always living with the fear of a bomb exploding right at your side in the next second. How they went through mud the whole day, always nervous about being discovered by the enemy.

But in the published pieces of the diary is one part that is nice to some extent. It’s the entry of April the 23rd, the Easter Sunday. He wrote that he is sitting on a field right beside a brook.
Also here, you can precisely imagine how he took his book at that day, how he went to the brook in the field while the sun was shining, and how he wrote in his diary, maybe thinking about his family back at home.
He describes that day with the words “A beautiful sunny (rest)day” (Sunday, April 23 1916). I’m thinking it is really nice that he can still enjoy some things he is going through, despite the horrific events in this sore time of his life. And that he hadn’t stopped dreaming: “I can easily imagine myself back in England”.
Also, “ one week in Hell and the next in comparative bliss” (Sunday, April 23 1916) is a sign that he hadn’t give up himself and that he still sees some beautiful sides in life. That is really admirable.
I think not many would think like that in this situation. Maybe most people wouldn’t even recognize the sunny day.
One reason of his “thinking” could be the keeping of his diary. He wrote all his experiences down he made in war and I think it distracted him of his conditions then. He took his book and pencil and had withdrawn himself to just write down his day. Maybe for the moment he could forget about his situation, so it contributed him to get through the bad experiences he made.

I think it’s good that it has been published, because the diary shows the reality. In movies war and violence are always represented as harmless, and therefore we get a totally different picture of these things, and do not know what it looks like in reality. But the diary shows the reality of the endless sleepless nights, the long marches through the mud and also under what conditions the soldiers lived, which is not depicted in war movies.
But the book raises also some questions, for example, if it accurately shows what Harry wrote.
I guess that not everything in his diary was written down like that from him. The entries could have been edited by the publisher, also because the diary is getting sold for money. Nonetheless I think that the book for the most part matches the truth.
But it’s great, that it has been published to show the truth about the war. And I think that Harry wanted it too, so that everybody can read his experiences in World War One.…...

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