A rifleman’s journey from Croydon to the Somme in 700 days

This is a diary as actually kept from August 2nd 1914 to July 1st 1916 by Rifleman Hubert Oldfield Brown. Hubert Brown had already been a Territorial with The London Rifle Brigade for six years by the start of the First World War, and he kept a personal diary throughout his service until he was wounded and repatriated from The Somme. Apart from the inclusion (by me) of sub-headings and explanatory notes, the diary entries are reported exactly as he wrote them. Hubert was a man of few words, but what he wrote was descriptive and factual.

My intention is to publish each diary entry, commencing on 2nd August, to coincide with the centenary of the day when it was written. The individual entries start as brief and, perhaps, even uninteresting. Perhaps that was how it was to many who were not part of the initial Expeditionary Force. Mobilisation and training. But, with perseverance, the reader will be taken to the trenches and Christmas truce at Plogsteert Wood, to the gas attacks at St Julien, and finally to the attack on Gommecourt on the first day of The Somme in 1916. Interspersed with time spent in the front line were periods, on occasions quite lengthy, of ‘rest and recreation’, and how these days were spent are in many ways as interesting as trench life.

Please enjoy the journey.