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Castle Museum‘s First World War diary entry decoded by Australian legal secretary Trudy Holdsworth
AN eagle-eyed retired legal secretary from Australia has been able to shed light on a 97-year-old war diary from across the globe.
Trudy Holdsworth has contacted The Press from her home in Sydney after she spotted our story about previously unknown First World War diaries uncovered in the Castle Museum stores.
The diaries are written in shorthand, and prompted museum staff to put out an appeal for people to help them decode the documents.
They have since heard from people across the world who recognised the script and wanted to help the museum translate the diaries, which were written by Wass Reader of the 1st East Riding Yeomanry C Squadron while he was serving in the Palestine campaign of 1917-18.
Ms Holdworth was able to make out some of the writing – which she recognised as Pitman shorthand – from The Press’s photograph alone and has translated fragments of the entry for Good Friday 1917.
It reads: “I have very ... to ... march out Monday at 11.15am and we are messing about digging trenches ...ing success etc. and then to top the business I have sent our men...”
The Castle Museum’s Lauren Masterman said they had heard from dozens of people enthusiastic about the project.
She added: “The response we have had from all over the world has been overwhelming and the museum would like to thank all of those who have volunteered to help translate the shorthand diaries.
“We now have a great team working on the project and are very excited to find out what they have discovered.”
The Press’s original story attracted attention online and Twitter users worldwide sent messages about what kind of shorthand was used, and what the text might mean.
The diaries were found by Castle Museum curators in December as they cleared out their stores in preparation for new exhibitions.
Katie Brown, the museum’s assistant curator of history, said at the time they were excited to find the diaries, but frustrated that they could not understand the contents.
They will be on display as part of the 1914: When The World Changed Forever exhibition due to open at the museum on June 28.
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