Life at War: Diaries
When one thinks of first-hand accounts of the First World War, it is likely war diaries that spring to mind. Diaries from this period come in all shapes and sizes, but each is as unique in style and content as their author.
Captain Ronald Hugh Macdonald, a doctor from Prince Edward Island serving on the Western Front, would remark on his first day of diary writing, "to write something, each day when at times one day is so like another seems foolish + useless + a waste of time, thereby giving one a good excuse to wait until something really worth writing turns up. but i have come to the conclusion that if for nothing more than dates + places listed, when one is on the move makes the energy expended well worth the effort."
While the authors of these diaries might have thought their everyday movements dull, we are thankful that men and women like Captain Macdonald persevered, for it is in both the monotony and the special events that makes these diaries fascinating glimpses into the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary times.
Click on the links to the left to read more about Ronald Hugh MacDonald, siblings Edith and Robert Leckie, as well as an account from an official Canadian regimental diary. For additional first-hand accounts, see diary entries made by Nurse Durant's patients at the No. 22 General Hospital in France in the "On the Road and in the Hospitals" section.