Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
A fascinating personal account of WWI at the home front.
on 27 March 2014
At the start of the Great War in 1914 Ethyl Mary Bilbrough (née Dixon) was middle aged, married to Kenneth Bilbrough (an insurance executive) and living in a mansion, Elmstead Grange, at Chislehurst, Kent. She decided to keep a diary of her own personal impressions of the war. The account is interspersed with cuttings of articles and photographs from newspapers.
Her handwriting is very clear and the publishers have done such an excellent job of reproducing the diary that I found it easy to get carried away and believe I was reading the original. The second part of the book is the same diary but in printed form, although personally I found this unnecessary coming from a generation which, of necessity, has wide experience of reading other people's handwriting.
She relates how more and more those at home were affected by the war. They lived six miles from Woolwich and one night were woken by the firing of guns trying to down overhead Zeppelins which were dropping bombs in the area. She later relates seeing English and German aeroplanes fighting overhead and how at the beginning of 1918 supplies of meat disappeared until rationing was introduced.
She was furious to find that one of her letters had been opened by the censor and has stuck the offending envelope with the censor's stamp in the diary. ("To have strange prying curious eyes reading one's own letters (that concern no one else) is exasperating!!!").
After her death her diary was found by her husband's second wife who fortunately gave it to the Imperial War Museum.