Somme told through newly digitised war diaries

Captain Alfred Edward Bland

Captain Alfred Edward Bland (cat ref: PRO 8)

Research carried out by staff at The National Archives into newly digitised war diaries has unearthed information about the men commemorated on two First World War memorials on display at our site in Kew.

Today marks the centenary of the death of one of those men, Captain Alfred Edward Bland, who was killed in action aged 35 on the first day of the battle of the Somme. Capt Bland was a clerk at the Public Record Office according to the 1911 Census and records report that he was killed by machine gun fire as he ‘gallantly led his men’ over the top and into battle.

Capt Bland was one of 20,000 British men killed on the first day of the battle which continued for another 140 days. He left behind a wife and two young sons living in Kent and is buried in Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz, France.

The WO 95 War Office unit war diary record series was extensively consulted as part of this research. This series represent one of the most popular collections held by The National Archives and all diaries for units on the Western Front during the First World War are now available to read online or download from our website.

Tags: first world war, somme, war diaries, WO95