A local woman has shared her father’s memoirs from the First World War to help raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
Frank Sidney served in the First World War in the Royal Artillery and kept a diary detailing his experiences. During lockdown, Christine Dieppe, Frank’s daughter, asked her husband to put his diary onto paper and have it published.
He was the youngest son of a London family of four boys and joined up at the age of 17 because he didn’t want to miss out.
Frank fought in France, including at the Somme, and then in Italy in 1918. Like many others, Frank kept a diary throughout until they went to Italy. He was a keen artist and used to draw on night duty whilst manning the wireless.
Christine Dieppe said:
“He had a wicked sense of humour, and he would tell all these stories. He was a keen artist and even started drawings of the first tanks. He used to draw on night duty whilst manning the field telephones and, later, the wireless. His Commanding Officer went on to illustrate Winnie the Pooh and I think that is how he learnt to draw.
He went through everything in the war; his best friend was killed. In his diary he talks about where he was fighting all the time although it stops at 1918, and we can’t find anything about his time in Italy.
His mum was very lucky and all four of her boys returned home from the war.”
Frank’s wife was supported by SSAFA and Christine has kindly donated copies of the book to support additional fundraising for the Armed Forces charity.
“When my dad died, my mum was on her own. She had a stroke and needed to find a home. We had just had a new baby and didn’t have the space or the money.
Someone suggested that we contacted SSAFA and we had a visit from a lovely SSAFA volunteer. He asked how we could prove my dad was in the Forces and I showed him his medals. He said, right that’s it, that’s proof.
Because of what Dad did and his service, SSAFA helped support my mum for 4 and half, nearing 5 years in a care home. I am so grateful to SSAFA; they would come and see how we were doing, and I got a letter from SSAFA when my mum passed away. What a wonderful thing for people to do.”
Buy Frank Sidney’s WW1 diary and support the Armed Forces community: ssafastore.org.uk/products/diary-of-frank-sidney-fisher