These are diary extracts from two soldiers, 100 years apart. Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Ernest Sheppard writing from the trenches in 1915 and Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Elliot Drake writing from Afghanistan in March 2012
WO2 Sheppard was awarded a field commission in 1916 but sadly killed in Action the following year.
WO2 EJR Drake Afghanistan March 2012
Muggy 30 degrees and a sand storm approaches. As I sit in the comfort of my Ops room in Camp Shurabak Afghanistan my mind wonders what it’s like for those troops stuck out on a limb harbouring up in the Green Zone mentoring the Afghan National Army nothing but a radio to communicate to me whilst I am sat here watching the TV and monitoring the nets. I put the kettle on to make a brew feeling slightly bad knowing the lads on the ground could not brew up because the fire and smoke would give them away. Brew made I picked up my book to pass the time knowing the troops are taking a rest (probably with one eye open) in the cold moonlight of the green zone mentally preparing for the next day’s task. Regimental Tales of the RIFLES is the title and the difference in War’s cannot be far from the truth.
WO2 Ernest Sheppard March 1915
Rain All night. We imagine we are backwards men now. The wood we are in is a sight, not a tree intact, scarcely a branch on where the shrapnel has cut them off. Our dugouts are substantial owing to this we make good use of the limbs. About 11am the enemy sent 11 shells in a minute. I had a narrow squeak as I was ordering a fire to extinguished which was throwing up smoke, a thing we have to be very careful about, as the enemy’s artillery observers wish for nothing better by which to direct there fire. A tree was blown down, just missed me, and I had lumps of wood and shell all about where I was standing. One man was wounded. This one instance where carelessness might have cost us several men.
WO2 EJR Drake
As dawn began to brake the radios came alive with contacts and reports of explosions coming from the guys on the ground, situation reports came in 2 x Afghan Soldier’s injured medical assistance required. Improvised explosive device strike. No UK Personnel injured but assisting with first aid, Enemy now extracting. Helo in bound to pick up casualties to be brought back to camp B for treatment. I handed over duties to the day stag.
WO2 Ernest Sheppard
The bitterest Sunday I have known or ever wish to know. My company, B, lost 1 Officer and 45 men mostly No. 5 Platoon. A Company were luckiest, losing 12 men, C Company lost all 170 men except 38. Hardly know who is dead yet, but several of my best chums are gone under. Had we lost as heavily while actually fighting we would not have cared as much, but our dear boys died like rats in a trap, instead of heroes as they all were.
WO2 EJR Drake, May 2017
My Afghan tour saw 1 person killed from my unit – a much loved officer he was brought home and laid to rest as every soldier should be. Those 72,396 brave men that were not brought home were never given the send-off ever brave soldier should be given. This project aims to give these men the dignity they deserve so please if you can. spare a few pounds to support the Shrouds of the Somme HERE
WO2 EJR Drake
Swift and Bold