My paternal grandfather, Stuart Leslie Sillars was born at Dalcroy House in Lyttelton, New Zealand in 1915. He served in North Africa and the Middle East during World War II. Like many returned servicemen, he never spoke about the war. All I knew was that he was shot in the leg, returned home to New Zealand, married my Grandmother and went on to have two children, my father and then my aunt. He passed away in 1996.
The only time he spoke about the war was when my Mum and I went on holiday to Egypt around 20 years ago and he spoke a little of his R’n’R in Alexandria and Cairo.
I knew that he’d kept a diary of his time in the war, my father had stumbled upon it when clearing out my Grandparent’s house following my Gran’s passing. I’d never seen them and recently I asked to read them. Was pretty surprised when Dad turned up on Saturday with them for me to borrow.
What shocked me is that firstly, it wasn’t 1 diary, its 3 separate journals and secondly, was of the amount of time he served.
I plan on sharing his diary here, for a number of reasons –
- So there is a record of his service and as an open historical record
- To share with other family who don’t have access to these diaries
- To help me read what he’s written, as you will see, its tiny, handwritten text
I am not sure what I will find in these entries, I really have no idea. It could be as dull as dishwater, it could be horrific, or it may just be a factual account of what he experienced.
And so we start, with page one of diary one (I welcome corrections! Things I am not sure about I will put in bold and italics or put in green for comments) –
Southern Infantry Batt.
2nd N.Z.E.F (Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force)
23 Rifle Battalion
M.E.F (Middle East Force)