Blackridge boy reports from the front

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Now, excerpts covering his spell at the frontline of one of the most bloody and gruesome episodes of “the war to end all wars” are being taken to the social network generation.

His tweets went online last month, giving a blow-by-blow account of his journey from home to the horrors of the Gallipoli Peninsula and later Egypt.

Tweeting under the name PteJack, the young Blackridge soldier’s online posts begin with the first entry in his diary, dated 26 September, 1915, which logs the first leg of his journey to the frontline from his regiment’s base in Cupar.

Within days came his next tweet, updating followers that he had now arrived “mid ocean”, then another telling how he and his Lanarkshire Yeomanry regiment had made it to the Straits of Gibraltar, nudging closer to Gallipoli.

Entries from the 1915/1916 diaries – donated to West Lothian Council’s archives by his relatives – will be tweeted to correspond to the exact day nearly 100 years earlier.

Archivist Emma Peattie points out Pte Jack’s entries are particularly poignant because of their understated tone.

“The diary seems very ‘matter of fact’ which may actually say more about the sort of person Pte Peter Jack was,” she says. “Perhaps he was the kind who didn’t let things he saw get to him, maybe he just wanted to put down the facts.

“Maybe he didn’t have time in Gallipoli to actually write much in his diary. Or what was happening was too horrific to go into.”

His diary entry for 15 October, 1915 is blunt: “We had more artillery fire from the Turks, and the KOSB lost a colonel and a lieutenant. A shell went right into the dug-out and blew them up in the air.”

And his entry two days later, succinct but poignant: “We shell the Turkish lines with our artillery – my word, it is just a pure hell.”

Emma adds: “Perhaps unexpectedly, Pte Jack’s diary also tells us about the sense of empathy he felt for his opponents. One entry reads: ‘The Turk … has taught us to respect him for a fair and brave fighter and a good bit better man than the fat-faced Germans who are driving them on to our Trenches with their swords and revolvers. But we Bear Johnny Turk no malice for that’.”