In 2008 I was given a box containing documents that once belong to my grandparents. When my grandmother died in 1965 her house in Florida and its contents were given to my aunt. Years later when she became ill, she gave several items to her only son and when he was ill he past the box of documents to my uncle.
My uncle was turning 90 when he gave the box to my sister and she passed it on to me. My sister had reviewed the contents and she told me that my grandfather's World War One journal was one of the items.
I remember opening the box and carefully rummaging through its contents in search of the journal. When I found it I picked it up and held it in my hands. Starring at the eight inch x 6 inch ledger a feeling of awe enveloped me, realizing that I was holding history. Then a flood of emotion filled my eyes knowing that the journal had belonged to my grandfather and the handwritten entries were in his.
The journal pages resembled graft-paper with 1/4 inch squares. His writing was cursive and the pencil script kept within the confines of each horizontal line of squares. The small letters added to the difficulty in deciphering the words.
To transcribe the journal entries I decided to scan each page so that I could enlarge the image. Increasing the size of the scanned page I was able to identify most of the words. This process took weeks to complete, however the time felt insignificant because the entries were so compelling.
The journal in itself would make an interesting read but without a story line it would just remain a journal. This changed when I discovered a letter written by my grandfather around 1945. It was titled, "I Had a Dream The Other Night". He described a dream he had where three of his old chums from the Royal Field Artillery came to visit him. Each had perished during the war and he recalled a promise that they made to one-another before their first battle, the Battle of Mons.
The letter provided the story line that would enable me to include the journal entries.
These two documents built the foundation for writing a historical fiction novel that transcends the reader beyond the historical depiction of the war by transporting them to the action through the experiences of one man who survived while millions of soldiers perished.
This is one of the scanned pages from the journal.