WE WILL NEVER FOR­GET

REMEMBRANCE WEEK­END COV­ER­AGE:

Burton Mail - - Front Page - By BETH PRIDDING bethany.pridding@reach­plc.com @beth­prid­ding

THE di­ary of a First World War hero from Bur­ton who gives a very per­sonal take on Ar­mistice Day has been dis­cov­ered in long-for­got­ten ar­chives.

The jour­nal, which be­longed to Sir Clif­ford F Gothard, was dis­cov­ered by Ray Wil­son, a vol­un­teer with the ar­chives ser­vice at Stafford­shire County Coun­cil. He was fas­ci­nated by what he had found and has spent hours tran­scrib­ing sec­tions of the di­ary so they could be shared with the pub­lic.

Clif­ford F. Gothard was born in 1894 near Bur­ton and was study­ing at the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham in 1914 when the First World War broke out.

He joined the Artists’ Ri­fles as a Pri­vate in Jan­uary 1916. He sur­vived the war and was de­mobbed in June 1919, with the rank of cap­tain.

An ex­tract from his di­ary, from Novem­ber 11, 1918, reads: “Caught 7.30 from Vic­to­ria for boat heard: PEACE AR­MISTICE HAD BEEN SIGNED, whilst cross­ing. Boats all over bunting when we ar­rived at Boulogne we had two strings of flags.

“The French were ex­cited and cheer­ing so fa­nat­i­cally that we are all laughed in­stead of an­swer­ing their cheers. Peo­ple waved flags, air raid alarms went off all day and hoot­ers blew etc.

“English was so quiet about it all that a French wait­ress said, ‘You English seem sorry war is over.’ Be­ing as­sured we were quite bucked, she said, ‘Then why are so you triste [sad and mourn­ful in French].’

“Had lunch at club, did some shop­ping – had tea at club, wrote home and went to din­ner in usual crush and then went to bed af­ter hav­ing a hot bath.”

When he re­turned to Bur­ton, Sir Clif­ford be­came one of Bur­ton’s lead­ing civic fig­ures and was the di­rec­tor of sev­eral com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Marston’s and the Bur­ton Mail.

Gill Heath, from Stafford­shire County Coun­cil, said: “This is a great di­ary ex­tract for Sir Clif­ford and gives us a real in­sight into the mood at the time of the Ar­mistice. It has ev­ery­thing, from how the F r e n c h were fa­nat­i­cally ex­cited to how the Bri­tish were more re­served when the news of peace came through.

“It also touches on how nor­mal­ity quickly re­turned, with Clif­ford do­ing some shop­ping, hav­ing din­ner and then a hot bath be­fore go­ing to bed that night. “Over the last four years are ar­chives ser­vice has been busy doc­u­ment­ing records to help us un­der­stand what life was like dur­ing these in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant years in his­tory. Ar­chives like these are re­ally pre­cious and it’s vi­tal we keep them for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to learn from. “I’d also like to thank our vol­un­teer Ray who has spent many years tran­scrib­ing all Sir Clif­ford’s war di­aries.”

Vol­un­teer Ray Wil­son, who tran­scribed the di­aries of Sir Clif­ford F Gothard

Cap­tain Clif­ford Gothard

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