┆'A Story of the Great War, 1914-1918' is a handwritten journal, approximately 260 pages, by William Charles Bradshaw, a printer from Lancashire, England. Bradshaw's notes at the start of the journal suggest that he wrote the journal in 1919, although this copy appears to date from sometime around 1930. Bradshaw describes his experiences during the War in great and powerful detail, especially his period as a Prisoner of War (PoW) from spring 1918 until he was able to return home in December 1918. The journal begins with Bradshaw travelling to Liverpool from his home in Widnes to volunteer to serve with the Liverpool Pals in November 1914. Following training at Knowsley Hall, he arrives in France in 1915 and the journal describes the battles he took part in, places he passed through and the people he met. Subjects and experiences covered include the poor conditions; the kindness of some enemy soldiers and cruelty of others; the frustration of having ineffective officers and some officers' poor conduct towards lower ranks; rare opportunities for leisure; sheltering from bombing raids; the conditions injured PoWs were kept in; German soldiers taunting Irish soldiers for serving with the British Army; burying bodies in mass graves; the extreme hunger of PoWs; hearing about the 1918 influenza pandemic (also known as the Spanish Flu) in England shortly before he returns home and not knowing if his family are alive; a highly emotional return home.
The journal also includes: a photograph of Bradshaw in uniform; contents pages; brief dedications to his father, who died in 1910, and his sister, Florence, who died in 1928; a transcript of a letter Bradshaw sent to his mother from France in 1917; two pages 'in Memory of Departed Pals,' much of which is dedicated to his friend, Joseph Stringer, from Runcorn, who Bradshaw met soon after volunteering to serve and who died at Guillemont, 1916; a printed, colour map of North Europe, with labels and ink lines showing Bradshaw's journey across England, France, Belgium and Germany during the War.
Please note: this journal contains racist language and terminology that may cause offence.