1. ITV Report

'Heavily shelled, we are in great need of a rest': Harrowing WWI diaries to be published online

A harrowing account of life in the trenches during the First World War has been revealed - 100 years since they were first written.

Regimental Sergeant-Major George Beck's handwritten diary daily describes the grim reality of the Somme and the use of poison gas during four years on the Western Front serving with the 1st Warwickshire Regiment.

The diary of Regimental Sergeant-Major George Beck, of 1st Warwickshire Regiment. Credit: Dorset History Centre/PA Wire

Heavily shelled during the morning, quiet in afternoon until about 4 pm when a cloud of German Gas was seen arriving catching 2 Regiments in the firing line which broke, the gas came on to us. Some of our men went back, but we formed up as many as possible & made a line in rear. Germans attempted an attack from the wood which was repulsed with loss. These last 3 days had shaken the Regiment up & affected the Morale of the Regiment & we are in great need of a rest.

– Diary entry from May 3, 1915

His entry for Christmas Day 1914 notes: "Not one shot was fired. English and German soldiers intermingled and exchanged souvenirs.

Germans very eager to exchange almost anything for our bully beef and jam. Majority of them know French fluently.

– Diary entry from December 15, 1914

He also describes how the sworn enemies played football, shared cigars and that a German band played 'God Save the King', which made the British troops think of home.

The soldier's immaculate handwriting also records lighter moments during the heat of battle with a snowball fight against the French.

The WWI diary will be published online. Credit: Dorset History Centre/PA Wire

RSM Beck was awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Cross in the war but turned down a commission to become an officer.

He was born in Warwickshire in 1881 and enlisted in 1898, serving in South Africa during the Boer War.

Rising through the ranks he was promoted to colour sergeant in 1905, which enabled him to marry.

In 1907 he married Eliza Attwooll, of Portland in Dorset, and settled on the island raising six children.

After the First World War, RSM Beck worked at the Duke of Yorkshire School, Dover, Kent for nearly four years until he was discharged on the grounds of ill health.

He then worked as an inspector for the Portland Bus Company before dying of pneumonia/influenza on March 20 1928 at his home in Portland. He was 47.

Regimental Sergeant-Major George Beck, of 1st Warwickshire Regiment Credit: Dorset History Centre/PA Wire

His diaries remained with his family and have been given to the Dorset History Centre by his granddaughter Caroline Milverson. They will be published online.