The Great War (1914-1918)

Grandad’s WW1 diaries

The Diaries

These four diaries – there is no diary for 1916 – cover the majority of the period of the First World War, from 1914 to 1918.

Introducing Grandad

They introduce grandad, who was just 16 when war broke out, and also his parents and siblings.

Work and Family Life

Grandad worked in his father’s shoe business in Kirkby in Ashfield and the diaries give an insight into his work and family life, including family involvement in the local Primitive Methodist chapel.

Living and Working in Kirkby

The diaries provide detail of where the family lived and worked in East Kirkby.


They also provided details of what grandad and his friends did to entertain themselves, including cycling, cinema trips, the wakes and various forms of music.

Coal Mining

​At that time, Kirkby in Ashfield, and the surrounding area, were dominated by coal mining and this provides an, often unspoken, backdrop for the diaries.

National and International Events

While the diaries are not particularly about national and international events, they do inevitably impinge.

Local and Regional Events

The diaries also record more local and regional events, particularly those focused on recruitment and fundraising.

Politics and Elections

The diaries also cover issues of local and national politics and elections

Views on the War​

Grandad did not talk about his views on the war and his diaries do not do this explicitly although some of his views can perhaps be implied. He was certainly interested in what was happening in the war.

Personal Experiences of War

The diaries do cover some of grandad’s personal experiences of war along with those of some of his family and friends.


In particular, they tell the rather poignant story of Joe