In December 2015, Mr Alan Welland of Tewkesbury presented Surrey History Centre with a tiny diary brought back from the Front by his grandfather, Frank Searle of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), after the First World War.
The diary had been written by Edgar George Barfoot of Richmond, Surrey, who served with the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) and was posted to France in April 1915. The entries cover the whole of 1916 from his service in France to his arrival in Salonika in December, and most are written in schoolboy French and Portuguese.
Most of the diary entries are brief and routine. He describes his daily work as a driver in the RASC, names towns and villages visited, and records duties undertaken such as sentry duty and rifle training. He mentions the names of friends and relatives from whom he has received letters and parcels, Much of his leisure time is spent playing football and cricket, and he also appears to have been religious, attending both Mass and Vespers most Sundays.
While in Marseilles, before disembarking for Salonika, several entries mention “Simone” whom Edgar describes as his sweetheart (“bien-aimée”). On 4 December he spends time with “mon adorée” from 11am until 11pm. Consequently, Edgar is sentenced to a field punishment (FP No 2) of 14 days for being in town about 9pm contrary to Base Orders and being in possession of an irregular pass. Edgar and his fellow soldiers sailed from Marseilles on 16 December on the SS Megantic, arriving in Salonika 4 days later.
Edgar Barfoot was born in Richmond, Surrey, in 1890, the son of George Thomas Barfoot, a hairdresser, and Mary (née Stapleton). Prior to enlisting, Edgar worked as a driver mechanic for Dennis Bros in Guildford. Before and after the First World War, Edgar travelled to Brazil on a number of occasions.
Edgar’s army service record gives his next of kin as his aunt Mrs Frances Poland of Richmond (née Stapleton, a sister of his mother). His records also show that he contracted malaria in Salonika. After the war, Edgar settled in the Guildford area and married Ethel May Bell in 1930. He died in 1975.
We would love to hear from anyone who is related to Edgar Barfoot.