This volume covers the first years of the Great War (1914-1916) and is an extract from a series of diaries which cover the years 1872-1935. Not only were they filled with daily entries for the entire period they were also profusely illustrated.
By the time of the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Elland businessman, William Stott, had been keeping his lavishly illustrated diaries for over 40 years. This book records his views and opinions during the Great War as it became known. They give a unique window into life on the home front from the point of view of the ordinary middle class man in the street and, in typical Yorkshire fashion, William is by turns blunt and humorous in his writings. They also give an insight into society’s attitudes towards class, gender and race, attitudes that are at odds with the more liberal views of today and there are times when William’s language would nowadays be considered offensive. He was, however, a man of his times and he should only be judged by the standards of the society he lived in.William records not only national but also local events, and the goings on of a well known local personality or friend are mentioned with as much enthusiasm as those of the good and great. He was a devoted family man and the reader can identify with the ups and downs of family life from his observations. Many of the perceptions that we have about the Great War are disproved in the diary. There were no great celebrations when war was declared, people did not believe it would be over by Christmas and not every man flocked to the colours to answer Kitchener’s appeal for volunteers. William enthusiastically supported the war but his own son did not volunteer and one of the recurring themes in the diary is his struggle to prevent his son from being called up when conscription was introduced in 1916. When all is said and done this is a fascinating look into society during those tumultuous early years of one of the greatest watersheds in British history.