New Donation to the Archives

Personal Papers from the First World War

21st August 2017

An interesting and colourful collection of hand drawn diagrams from a notebook belonging to Gunner W H J Barr, 301673, ‘A’ Company 14th Battalion Tank Corps. 

The notebook, along with Barr’s personal papers, was gifted to the Museum in May 1972. Barr, who had previously been a Clerk, was posted to the 14th Battalion on 14th December 1917. According to his posting and courses record, the duration of Barr’s ‘service’ was 2 years and 1 month, 16 months of which were classified as ‘War Service’. He passed his Reconnaissance and Pigeon courses and gained a ‘1st’ in Battle Practise, Revolver, 6-Pdr-gun and Tank Mechanical.

Sword Knots largeThe notebook featured contains instructional notes which Barr recorded during this training period for the Tank Corps. Mostly written in black pen, the book features only a few incidents of smudging, underlining or pencil corrections and additions. Quite literally a mine of information, Barr fills his notebook with lecture notes, labelled diagrams and graphs covering subjects as diverse as the use of maintenance the Hotchkiss Machine Gun, British and German Conventional Signs, Tank Reconnaissance and Maps.

The images above and below are taken from the chapter covering the Cockades of the German State Under Officers and Men. These brightly coloured diagrams are examples of identifying features for German soldier in the First World War. All aspects of the uniform were covered; sword and bayonet knots, shoulder straps, buttons, caps and cockades [knot of ribbons, similar to a rosette most usually worn on a hat]. Cockades featured include Brunswick, Bavaria and Saxony.

The notebook itself has been scanned as part of the Archive’s digitalisation process assisting both the preservation and the accessibility of this fascinating document.