LIKE thousands of young men called up for the First World War, Walter Haywood died a long way from home. Born in Worcester, he took his last breath in a field hospital near Dar es Salaam on November 8, 1917, after suffering acute dysentery. He never reached the front line.

However, Walter left behind his remarkable war diary, which is among a treasure trove of war memorabilia already handed in to the Worcestershire War One Hundred team as part of its project to catalogue and remember the First World War.

Run by Worcestershire Archives Service and based in The Hive, Worcester, Worcestershire War One Hundred is the largest programme outside London completely dedicated to commemorating the 1914-18 conflict and for the next four years it will be asking local people to come forward with any family memories and artefacts of the time they have.

Dr Adrian Gregson, policy and collection manager of Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, said: “It is fascinating and often very moving to hear the stories of Worcestershire residents about the impact the First World War had on the people of Worcestershire both on the home front and front line. We hope people across the county take the opportunity to visit as many of the events planned for the next four years as possible, Worcestershire World War One is a real opportunity to understand and appreciate the impact the First World War had on our own communities.”

After reading about the launch of the project last month in the Worcester News, Pam Horsfield, who now lives in Alvechurch, but was born in Worcester, contacted the team with a diary belonging to her grandfather Walter Henry Haywood, who was born on May 11, 1890. The little notebook tells the story of his training after being enlisted into the Royal Engineers in 1917 and leaving his family at Shrub Hill Station Worcester through his journey to German East Africa, where he died in November 1917 from dysentery.

"Walter's diary gives details of the conditions on board ship, his travelling companions and the differences between the conditions suffered by the lower ranks compared with the officers, " said Mrs Horsfield. "It describes life in various ports they called in to, such as Capetown, Durban and Dar es Salaam. For a man who rarely went farther than Worcester, this must have been extraordinary.

"Researching and compiling our family history has been emotional and rewarding. Almost a hundred years later it is still a moving experience, an honour and a pleasure, to visit the war memorials in Worcester in St Martin's church in London Road and the Guildhall that bear Walter’s name. We hope that through sharing his diary with the Worcestershire World War One Hundred team we can show how our family is part of Worcestershire’s regimental history as well as share information on what it was like to be a soldier through the words of Walter himself."

She took Walter's original diary, postcards and photographs to the Worcestershire World War One Hundred team. Worcestershire Archives has now digitised them for access and long-term preservation and for inclusion in the People’s Collection, which will be made up of the stories and artefacts loaned or donated by residents of Worcestershire. It will open to the public during the commemorations and run until 2018 at The Hive. Walter’s diary and life story are also being used in Dar es Salaam as part of the city's commemorations.

The People’s Collection and the county wide call for memorabilia from the First World War War is one part of the Worcestershire World War One Hundred project, funded through Heritage Lottery Fund and one of the largest programmes of events in England commemorating the war. It will involve many local cultural and heritage organisations with exhibitions, parades, concerts, church services, remembrance events and much more taking place across Worcestershire from now through to 2018 and beyond. For the full programme, and details on up-coming events or to find out how you can donate or loan your WW1 artefacts visit: or follow @WW1Worcs.