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TWO First World War servicemen diaries unearthed by Hansons include memories from Battle of Somme

Posted on 29/07/2020 in Press Coverage

Two First World War diaries unearthed by Hansons Auctioneers are set to go under the hammer on August 7.

The diaries belonged to two different artillerymen but militaria expert Adrian Stevenson believes they may have been related. The first diary, written in a Field Message Book, belonged to 64350 Gunner H Belshaw, Royal Garrison Artillery.

Its front cover provides the dates April 1, 1916 to December 31, 1917. However, some pages are missing and the diary ends on August 23, 1917. Belshaw offers extensive coverage of his day-to-day activities on the Western Front and includes notes relating to the fateful day of July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

The second diary belongs to Captain John Oliver Mark Ashley, 109 Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, and begins on January 1, 1918. It runs for the whole year and offers notes on Home Service as well time on the Western Front.


His account as an officer gives a different insight into the war compared to that of a private soldier. An entry for November 11, 1918, written in Teddington, London, states in block capitals ‘THE END OF THE WAR!’.

The lot includes a large scrap book brimming with photos, maps and papers which belonged to Captain Ashley. It covers his post-First World War career in the Army, service in India before the Second World War and active service in Italy during the Second World War until December 1945 when he retired.

The war memorabilia, lot 123, is due to go under the hammer on August 7 in Hansons’ Medals, Militaria and Firearms Auction with an estimate of £300-£400. To find out more or arrange a free valuation of medals/militaria, please email: [email protected].

CLICK HERE to view the lot

CLICK HERE to view the August 7 Medals, Militaria & Firearms Catalogue