Diary of a Sunderland tommy – soldier’s WW1 diaries go online 100 years on

The diaries of Arthur Linfoot.
The diaries of Arthur Linfoot.
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A RARE insight into the life of a Wearside soldier during World War One has been published.

To mark the coming centenary of the War, the family of Private Arthur Linfoot have created a fascinating blog, transcribed from the serviceman’s diaries.

Arthur Linfoot

Arthur Linfoot

Updated each evening, exactly 100 years after they were written, the documents reveal the soldier’s life in Wearside and his time fighting for his country.

Born and bred in Sunderland, Arthur was 25 when he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1915 and saw action in France the following year.

However, he kept a daily pocket diary from January 1, 1914 to December 31, 1918 and to co-incide with the War’s 100th anniversary, his family decided to turn the diary into a blog.

The first 18 months are mostly depicting his life in Sunderland at the time. Arthur’s son, Denis, 82, has spent more than a year transcribing the diaries, which were written in Pitman’s shorthand, and adding footnotes.

World War One Trench Warfare.  Cramped and crowded conditions in the trenches of the Somme.

World War One Trench Warfare. Cramped and crowded conditions in the trenches of the Somme.

He said some of the writing was difficult to decipher and a few passages illegible due to conditions on the front line as his dad tried to write.

Denis, who lives in Kent, said: “My father made a start on transcribing the diaries before he died in 1977. But, no-one really did anything with them after that.

“There was only really me who would be able to do it and I was anxious to get them into some sort of print for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren before it was too late. It was the idea of my nephew to turn them into a blog.

“The first part is as much a piece of Sunderland history, life on Wearside at the time, as it is about the war itself.”

Arthur, who was married to Jessie and had three children, Denis, Kathleen and Bill, who sadly died after a battle with cancer aged just 35, was a clerk at the Hendon Paper Works in 1914.

After the war he returned to work there and retired as a director of the company in 1956.

Although, none of the Linfoot family now lives in the city, Denis said his relatives, who all attended South Durham Street Methodist Church, were well known at the time and lived at various addresses in Sunderland including Salem Hill, Eldon Street and Herrington Street.

Arthur’s elder brother, Ernie, was the manager of Hill’s Book Shop in the city for many years and his younger brother, Charlie, was a well known local singer.

To read the blog visit www.arthurlinfoot.org.uk. Below is an extract.