SMHS meeting: Tim's War

16 Mar 2016

"We took three German lines, but retired in the afternoon, or rather the few of us who were left did" recorded Rifleman Tim Elliott.

When Alma Elliott, then elderly and suffering from severe arthritis, sold her home in Reading her family made a surprising discovery. In the attic were the diaries of Alma's late husband, Timothy Goddard Elliott; spanning the period 1911 until his death. What is remarkable about the diaries is they contain an entry for every day without exception. Tim had served in the 9th Battalion (County of London) Regiment, Queen Victoria's Rifles throughout the First World War, fighting in the trenches, where the keeping of a diary would have been forbidden.

Tim's entries from the war years are recorded in pocket diaries, which he could have kept discreetly in a uniform pocket. Written with a fountain pen, suggesting he had daily access to pen and ink, this doesn't fit well with the chaotic impression we hold of life in the trenches.

Inspired by the centenary of the First World War, Tim's son-in-law, Robin Gregory, has transcribed the diaries and, adding insight, his book entitled Tim's Wars: The Psychology of War and Peace Through One Man's Eyes tells Tim's story from a pre-war career in the theatre, through the war years of both WW1 and WW2 and beyond.

We were delighted to welcome Robin and his wife Ann to our March meeting to explore this valuable and unique record.


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7.30pm for 8.00pm start
Function Room of the
Royal Oak Public House,
Station Street, Lewes,
East Sussex.


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