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November 09, 2007

The Experiences of a Very Unimportant Officer

The Experiences of a Very Unimportant Officer, The Great War diary of Captain Alexander Stewart of 3rd Scottish Rifles, was written in 1917 shortly after an injury and returning home. Only three copies existed until his grandson Jaime Stewart came across them and decided they deserved a wider public. I will never be one tenth as Flea-ish as Captain Stewart was on the front line.

Captain Stewart's diary, which has been published for the first time, reveals how on one occasion he struggled to shoot straight during a battle because of his pipe.

He wrote: "After my third or fourth shot, I found that the bowl of my pipe and the smoke from it was obscuring my line of vision as I was firing slightly downwards all the time. Much to my annoyance, I had to put my pipe in my pocket alight as it was; it was lucky that it did not burn my jacket.

"Just as I got my rifle working I saw a man in the trench calmly kneeling down and taking an aim at me. At the moment I saw him he fired. But in a miraculous way he missed."

Telegraph readers share their parents and grandparents stories of the War in comments to a related article.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 9, 2007 05:53 AM

Comments

Pretty interesting stuff!

Wanda's grandfather also wrote an account of his Great War experiences, but his narrative tends to meander through places and times. One moment he'll be writing about Vimy Ridge, the next moment he'll be writing about high school experiences, and then a few pages later he'll share an anecdote from the troopship that brought his unit to Europe.

She's started transcribing it all to a digital format but it's not always easy to read the man's handwriting, and regrettably, he's not around for us to ask specifics.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 9, 2007 11:52 AM

Brilliant!

Ah, to be the Flea...

Posted by: OregonGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 9, 2007 02:33 PM

It is not all tea and crumpets, I can assure you. Or crumpets.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 9, 2007 02:36 PM

A pipe smoker who shoots right needs to smoke left. In my Cougar, things were tight enough that smoking right resulted in unwanted interference with the gun breech, not recommended.

Cheers

Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 10, 2007 12:39 AM

Excellent British w00tness in the time of battle.

Sadly, my great grad-dads tales of the great war are stored in the mind of a relative who's memory is failed. I do know however that he was a trench courier for the Brit forces in WWI and ended his tour with a bullet in the stomach whilst riding a motorcycle between two officers.

Posted by: Gorthos [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 10, 2007 09:08 AM