JOURNAL BY WALTER BAKER OF HIS FIRST WORLD WAR EXPERIENCE - Regt. 547, 5th Battalion, 10th Irish Division of the Royal Irish Regiment (Signals)

JUNE 1914 I am leaving home for the first time to work at a place near Radstock Somerset. To be precise it happened to abe village called Kilmersdon -it may have been small &modestly of little significance but my word it was the commencement of a sequence of happenings which a few months previous was very far from my remotest imaginations. This village was also very quiet &its solitude was in keeping with its thickly wooded forest abounding in deer, pheasants &other species of game. I enjoyed my work which was fully occupied with assisting in fruit houses containing grapes nectarines apricots etc. -very interesting work. As my feeling of homesickness faded I seemed somewhat to a sense of responsibility to realise that I had reached a stage in my life when decisions were to be made by myself &without the good guidance of my (Godparents bless 'em). I was earning 15/- weekly with which to supply myself with all the necessaries of existence. My colleagues& I lived in a two roomed house or 'Bothy" on the estate &prepared our own meals. I must admit that we managed to obtain by various means, quite a few items of "game". I remember quite well one evening on our byway Radstock for an evening out to have a thrill with our balance left for that purpose. I set a rabbit snare at the base of one of the trees which lined the drive. Naturally my colleague did likewise &on returning from our "thrill" I approached my site of apprehension. I reached the wire hoping to hold my first capture of a rabbit but to my disappointment &"minor shock" I grabbed hold of a "toad". I was for the next few days the target for many derisive remarks &my only comfort was a beautiful rabbit caught by my colleague. Such is the comparison between Pro &amateur. However such episodes as these did exist very frequently &certainly did assist in maintaining our larder stock. At my age of eighteen, it was only natural that my diversions were just light-hearted enjoyment. I was most certainly not allergic to deep thinking or melancholy wanderings but as weeks crept on &the early days of August presented themselves somehow the trend of my mind seemed to alter &August 4th became history. AUG. 4th 1914 Big headlines appeared in the press. England &Germany were not sort of "looking the same way" &the ominous news read that "war was declared" but there! we consoled ourselves that England was already strong enough to take all comers &little did we imagine how the country would stand in four years hence &little did I think that "little me" would be one of those millions who would don the khaki a&fire rifle with intent to kill. We scanned the news daily with natural interest &gloated over the news of the heavy losses of the Germans in their efforts to reach the Channel ports but we did not forget to realize also that we were also losing men in killed &wounded. The forceful &menacing approaches of the enemy seemed to gain considerable territorial success &very soon the Press through Lord Kitchener was appealing for volunteers. This called for serious thinking &eventually resulted in our working staff of eight to offer our services such as they maybe. Our employer Lord Hylton of Ammerdown Park became very interested &convened a meeting with a view to enrolling others. He graced our patriotic action with a most eloquent speech which resulted in quite a few more volunteers &giving us Godspeed with a ration of smokes. What heroes we imagined ourselves marching away amidst the cheers of the village. I wrote to my parents &told them of my "doings" &sent home all my belongings& I received a reply with mixed feelings mostly possibly because of my age although we were
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