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War diaries now available at click of a button

The war diaries of poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon have been made available online by Cambridge University library - just in time for the start of the First World War centenary.

It's part of the library's project which aims to highlight the horrors of the Great War.

More than four thousand pages of poetry, sketches and early drafts of Sassoon's Soldier's Declaration have been digitised.

The diaries are available online Credit: ITV News Anglia

The poems include previously unpublished material along with early drafts of some of his best-known works including an early version of The Dug-Out with an additional, excised verse.

The notebooks were small enough to be carried in the pocket of his army tunic, and he used them to draft poetry, make pencil or ink sketches, list members of his battalion and their fates, make notes on military briefings, and draw diagrams of the trenches.

The images of them show mud from the trenches and spilled wax, presumably as he sat writing in his dug-out by candlelight.

Siegfried Sassoon Credit: ITV News Anglia

The war diaries Sassoon kept on the Western Front and in Palestine are of the greatest significance, both nationally and internationally, and we are honoured to be able to make them available to everyone, anywhere in the world, on the 100th anniversary of the First World War. From his Soldier's Declaration to his eyewitness accounts of the first day of battle on the Somme, the Sassoon archive is a collection of towering importance, not just to historians, but to anyone seeking to understand the horror, bravery and futility of the First World War as experienced by those on the front lines and in the trenches."

– Cambridge University librarian Anne Jarvis