Memoirs of Sheffield WWI hero discovered

Soldiers in the trenches during WWI
Soldiers in the trenches during WWI
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The memoirs of a Sheffield WWI hero who stopped off at a train station before heading to the front line have been discovered.

Charles Palmer Wagner, who lived on Jedburgh Street in Wincobank, was one of hundreds of servicemen who penned messages in two visitor books during 1916 and 1917 as they stopped off at Peterborough East Railway Station.

Words written in the visitor book by Sheffield soldier Charles Wagner

Words written in the visitor book by Sheffield soldier Charles Wagner

His story came to light when the visitor books were unearthed in the Peterborough Library archive.

The soldier, alongside many others from Sheffield, would sit and enjoy a chat in the railway station tea room with the temperance ladies who brewed them a cuppa.

Now a project is aiming to find out more about the lives of the servicemen whose fleeting thoughts and feelings are preserved in the two slim volumes dating from 1916 and 1917.

Born in Sheffield in 1895, Charles survived the perils of trench warfare during the 1914-1918 conflict.

He had been a shell fitter in civilian life and during the war he served in Egypt. He was discharged from the army in 1919.

Researches are desperate to find out more about him and are appealing for information from any family or relatives for a special war exhibition in Peterborough.

On May 5, 2016 – 100 years to the day the books started – Charles’ story and those of the other men who wrote in the books, will be published in real time on a website.

Peterborough Archives wants to provide as much information about them as they can, so each message and the story of the serviceman who wrote it can be shared on the anniversary of the day the soldier passed through the city.

Richard Hunt, head of cultural development for vivacity culture and leisure, said: “There are over 580 entries in all. Some are simple words of thanks, others talk of love and hope.

“Together, they provide a unique insight to the servicemen’s thoughts and feelings and we want to try to paint a personal picture of the men who once found comfort in Peterborough.

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