The Diaries of Private Sidney Cooper

Sidney joined the 1st Herts Regiment Territorial Force and was amongst the first to land in Le Havre in November 1914.

Sidney Cooper recorded his experiences in detail after the war and donated his harrowing account and collection of souvenirs to Hertford Museum in 1979, “trusting that they may be of interest to future generations”. Here, Sidney describes the dawning of Christmas day, 1914

After what seemed untold hours of this misery, and men continually asking what time it was, and how long it would be before dawn came, soon the first streaks of dawn gradually began to light up the position we was in. Already we could see one another more distinctly, as we rested our backs against the back of the trench and as it got lighter what kind of a place we saw in front of us. Just about forty yards between us and the German long mound of trench, rugged and partly covered with snow fields, a few posts at all angles and stretched from one to the other a few strands of barbed wire...

No sign of any living thing to be seen, or away back of the German trench, trees, shell struck, some half knocked down and leaning on others, houses or farmsteads in ruins behind them and still further on in the distance more trees or flat undisturbed country... All around us a scene of desolation and destruction; with scorched shelled trees, ruins of houses, fields of brown earth, barbed wire on posts, the two parallel lines, a mound of earth, the silence everywhere, Christmas Day 1914.