WW1 diary displayed

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A diary written by an Arbuthnott soldier from the trenches of the First World War will go on display in the Grassic Gibbon Centre this week.

Robert Walker, a farm labourer from Arbuthnott, was called up to war in August 1914 and never returned. His name is featured on the war memorial outside the Grassic Gibbon Centre and his medals and diary have been sourced from his daughter who now lives in England.

His notepad, fragilie and elegantly written in pencil, was kept from moment he left Aberdeen until his death. One of his first entries stated it took 21.5 hours to get from Aberdeen to Plymouth before being deported overseas.

Robert, who was in his thirties at the time, had just become a father to a baby girl when he left for war. He writes about his daughter Amie throughout his diary with updates each week such as “Amie 4 weeks old today” and “Amie 6 weeks old today” and so on.

He writes about letters from home and about what’s going on each day. Little things are noted, such as what they got to eat and what the conditions were like. He also writes about what is happening on the front line, for example, “as we had no covering fire the enemy were firing big guns, machinery and rifles as they liked”.

He refers to other soldiers and mentions when someone had been injured or killed. He writes about the conditions they lived and worked in and the lengths they had to travel. He notes his feelings and the every day stresses and little pleasures of being in his situation.

On 13 October 1914 Robert made his last entry. He wrote “very trying day. Sergeant Henely killed. Lying in ditch at 3pm wondering when I am going to get breakfast. Roll on.”

Robert was killed during a heroic attempt to rescue the body of a French soldier. He had carried the body over his shoulder for three miles before being fatally wounded.