The rediscovered WW1 memoir of an art student’s survival in the trenches
In 2019 a box was discovered containing a handwritten account of a soldier’s life at the front line in WWI. Albert Clayton’s remarkable autobiographical story in 20 chapters remained hidden for decades, unknown to his family, until its chance discovery along with several photographs from the same time.
Albert’s story takes us with him through the ravaged landscape of northern France from July 1916 to May 1917 when he was drafted into the 29th (Reserve) which later joined the 8th (Service) Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers. He details the vivid scenes of front line warfare, the banter of his comrades, and the raw intensity of ‘going over the top’ – which he did on several occasions.
Despite all the hardship and adventure including several brushes with death, his was an experience that many on the front line of war have lived through but few have recorded with such comprehensive narrative. We are thankful he did, for his rediscovered legacy is a personal and engaging story that brings sharp focus to places and events, with an artist’s eye for detail, and Albert’s own wit and perspective. The food they ate, the conversations they held, and everyday events in the many quieter times behind the front line are some of the most interesting and enjoyable insights.
This aim of this website is to support the book and provide a platform for readers to take Albert’s story further, a forum for further research helping to fill in more detail on the lives of those he served alongside, what happened to him in the years after.
There is now also a Facebook page to support the book: