Hero's war diary rescued

A DIARY detailing a brave soldier's life in the First World War trenches has been unearthed in pristine condition.

The First World War writings of Lance Corporal William Walker have now been printed in a book called My Experiences in the Great War after it was found in his daughter's loft.

The Hartlepool soldier served in the Highland Light Infantry in France from 1915 to 1917 where he wrote about the battles in an old school book.

At 20-years-old he left his job on Hartlepool's dock to fight on the front line where he saw action during the Battle of Loos in 1915 and the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

He returned home just months before the war's end in 1918 after being shot twice, with one bullet destroying his left bicep. He died, aged 82, in 1977.

William's grandson, Peter Northey, 58, has been the driving force behind the writings being published.

Dad of two Peter, a production mechanic from Bowes Road, Billingham, said: "The book was kept in my mum's loft for years and when it finally came down when she moved not long ago we all read it and were amazed.

"It's a first-hand account of some of the worst fighting in history.

"It tells of the great battles and the awful conditions but there are also light-hearted moments and a few laughs.

"It's easy to forget that these were young men. The camaraderie and humour got a lot of them through the war.

"I'm just delighted it's finally in print.

"It could have been lost to history, but it's vital these first-hand accounts are kept alive."

William had tried to get his writing published shortly after the war, but was refused by one company before being asked in 1927 to pay 94, a large sum at the time, for 1,500 copies.

William's daughter and Peter's mum, Anne Northey, 84, from Wansbeck Gardens, Hartlepool, added: "He never spoke about the war, but then no-one ever did.

"He was a very proud man, always immaculately dressed and you could set your clock by him. I guess that's what being in the Army does.

"He even refused to use a bus or car. He would walk everywhere."

The book is priced at 7.95 and is available from WH Smith, the Headland's Heugh Gun Battery, various newsagents in Hartlepool and Borders at Teesside Shopping Park, in Stockton.