Regulated by Rics

Wednesday 29th September 2010 auction

Wednesday 29 September will be a Country House Fine art auction The Mackworth Hotel and will include the complete antique contents of a Barlaston house.
 

Highlights include:


*A rare watercolour painted by celebrated 'cat' artist Louis Wain (1860-1939)

*Wootton’s WW1 diary of  day to day life observed in the trenches and in a tank on the front line

 
A rare diary unearthed in Staffordshire and previously unrecorded presents a vivid story of life in the trenches and  life on the front line for Lieut Kenneth Edwin Wootton. 1/21 Battn London Regt Tank Corps. Wootton was awarded an MC for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in operations during WW1. His tank was the leading tank of his section and he put many enemy machine guns out of action along the way.
 
Kenneth Edwin Wootton was also a highly skilled artist and pen and ink and watercolour illustrations depicted from his fist hand experiences provide a fascinating insight in to trench and tank warfare
 
Wootton alongside First Tank Driver Fagg quite clearly had some great banter and it is this mood which the diary tells a tale of survival and success for the British Army
 
The tales and observations are first hand and give us new information on life in the trenches during WW1
 
Some of the separate extracts are as follows;
 
‘My crew had made some hot cocoa. The gunners and I were waiting anxiously for the opening of the barrage. Suddenly there was a tremendous noise and a blinding flash. Every gun on a ten mile front  had opened fire. This was the start of the barrage. We jumped up to watch the burst  of the shells, it was a most wonderful sight. The ground seemed to burst like a golden rain’
 
‘Up the hill Fagg and I felt we were in for it as the Germans still held Westhoek and Gelncorse wood.. I was kept busy dodging from side to side on my tank as a great many shells fell around us. I should have got inside but I hate being boxed up in the stifling heat of a tank. I felt safer in the open. ‘
 
‘I found  one of our own infantry lying wounded with a bad gash in his head, I gave him some water and told him the stretcher bearers were coming up, I hope it was true. I dodged him  but I was obliged to drive over a dead German and I shall never forget the sight of his face after it had been pushed in to the mud by a 40 ton tank. The awful mud made it a hopeless mess. Our tank fell in a crater and we fitted the unhitching beam. By the 10th try Fagg crawled out exhausted in trying to work the clutch and brake. He revived himself with some whisky. A poor lonely German without boots or socks and shot through both legs kept us company. He spoke little English and told us his comrades had removed his boots and socks when he was wounded and so left him. At a dressing station and on foot I was given a tin of peaches all of which I ate before falling asleep
 
Jack was Officer Carew’s dog, a white fox terrier who was aboard our tank al lot of the time. He often took a walk in to no mans land and wished to make the acquaintance with another dog on the other side who had caught his eye. He had no trouble in walking the 100 years to the other side and had no fear. We watched him and admired. At Ypres in the summer of 1917 he jumped on to a lorry. This was the last we saw of poor jack. Carew was inconsolable and after endless enquiries we found out he had been killed by a shell
 
‘I hurried along the trench and came face to face with a large man. He was about to lunge at me with a bayonet and I pointed my revolver at him, we stood like this for a second and then realised we were friends instead of enemies, we both exclaimed something  like ‘alright British’. I should have worn my hat but didn’t like the square shaped helmet’
 
'The image of Christmas day sketched by Wootton from the trenches is particularly moving commented Charles Hanson, it reads ‘
‘Christmas Day 1916 Ypres showing a star shell fired from the German trenches and lighting up no mans land. Distance between the line was 100 yards. Had an excellent Christmas dinner in a dug out, turkey, Christmas pudding, mine pies, fruit and champagne, both sides stopped, did patrol from midnight till 3am and felt very merry’
 
‘One incident I remember was seeing a German running across in front of us from left to right I followed him with the machine gun, he being 150 yards away and left Fagg in the tank. He suddenly disappeared presumably in to a trench but whether I hit him I cannot say, but soon after this , on arriving near the spot where he had vanished what I judged to be about sixty Germans suddenly rose up and surrendered. I asked them politely to make their way to our line which they did’
 
The diary ends with notes on the explosion which almost killed Wootton. Wootton was in hospital and he ’was inoculated in the chest  by a cheery nurse who said you’re for Blighty’.
 
The diary notes ‘At the Red Cross Hospital in Rouen I was put to bed in a most comfortable ward full of other beds. Early in the morning the sisters brought breakfast but I was told there was none fro me ‘as I was going to the pictures’. ‘So shortly afterwards I was wheeled in to the operating theatre and all my various hurts were attended too’  Fagg, Ist Driver had lost one finger in the firing.
 
The diary which is full of interesting extracts is expected to fetch up to £3000 in Hansons auction
 
For further details contact Hansons on 01283 733 988 or email service@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk