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Two First World War diaries that share first-hand experiences of the battlefields of the Western Front are scheduled to be sold at auction this week.
The diaries, written by Gunner H Belshaw and captain John Ashley respectively, are expected to change hands for several hundred pounds when they go under the hammer on 7 August.
Experts from Hanson’s Auctioneers in Derbyshire recently discovered the items and believe the men who wrote them may have been related.
Gunner Belshaw, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, wrote his account in a field message book, whose front cover is inscribed with the dates 1 April 1916 to 31 December 31 1917. However, some pages are missing and the diary ends on 23 August 1917.
The soldier writes at length about day-to-day life on the Western Front during the First World War and includes an entry for 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when more than 19,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed.
The diary of Captain Ashley, who also served with the Royal Garrison Artillery, begins on 1 January 1918 and covers the entire final year of the war.
As an officer, his experiences were rather different to those of Gunner Belshaw although they probably shared the same emotions on 11 November 1918, when Ashley wrote the simple message “The end of the war!” in his journal.
The lot also includes a large scrap book containing photos, maps and papers related to captain Ashley’s later military service in India and during the Second World War when he was posted to Italy.