Cornwall

WW1 Cornish soldier's diary on Twitter 100 years on

Richard Graves-Sawle Image copyright University of Exeter
Image caption Richard Graves-Sawle's war diary, written 100 years ago, has been serialised on Twitter

The diary of a Cornish soldier killed in World War One has been serialised on social media site Twitter, exactly 100 years after it was written.

Richard Graves-Sawle fought with the Coldstream Guards in France, until his death on 2 November 1914.

His diary entries give an insight into the desperate conditions of millions of soldiers fighting in Europe.

History students Ellie Vale and Emily Poole from the University of Exeter serialised the soldier's diary.

Graves-Sawle, from Porthpean near St Austell, left for France six days after he married on 6 August 1914.

He fought in the retreat from Mons and the Battles of Marne and the Aisne.

In the diary entry on 1 September 1914, the soldier wrote: "Fought rear-guard action through very difficult and wooded country…Men had no food or drink since morning. A very hard day."

But amid the horror, the diaries also reveal visits to church services and Graves-Sawle's longing for chocolate and musical concerts from behind the German lines.

Graves-Sawle was killed near Ypres by a sniper's bullet to the head.

Miss Poole said: "Through Twitter, we can engage people with this Cornish soldier's history, through short extracts which are both poignant and fascinating, as it is rare that one is given such an insight into someone's private experiences."

Image copyright Johan Bakker
Image caption Richard Graves-Sawle's name appears on the Menin Gate in Ypres

Dr Garry Tregidda, director of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said he hoped the project would enable young people "to engage with the terrible events of the First World War".

He said: "Ellie and Emily have combined detailed historical research with a sensitive awareness of personal tragedy and the result is an impressive project that explores key events through the everyday experiences of a Cornish soldier on the battle field."

Grave-Sawle's father was a baronet and as the only son, he was heir to the Sawle family estate at Penrice House.

His name appears on the Celtic cross at Holy Trinity Church, St Austell and is also on the second panel at Menin Gate in Ypres, not far from where he was killed.

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