University of Oxford
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The 1945 diary of Albert Agutter, RAF Wireless Operator

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

This is the 1945 diary of Albert Agutter, a RAF Wireless Operator in WWII. It is premised on Albert's diary entries, starting 2 June 1945 and ending on 12 November 1945. Albert died in 2022, but the attached document was compiled and produced by Albert's daughter, Helen Gristwood, in 2015. In 2014/15 Helen formally interviewed her father about his war diary. Helen wrote up the results with photos and maps that she and her husband Philip independently researched and produced. Helen was a senior librarian and archivist in her working life, and more latterly the Chair of Woking History Society. Sadly, Helen too has since died, and Philip has asked me to submit her work to you. When you view the content I'm sure you'll agree that Helen was an excellent researcher!

In case it's not self-apparent, I'll briefly describe the structure of this 19-page piece:
It was produced from a combination of Albert's individual diary entries and notes from Helen's interviews with her father during 2014 and 2015:

Pages 1-7: An overview of Albert's war, from conscription in 1940, through to the D-Day landings and the hiatus from late June '44 to April '45 when 'they didn't really know what to do with us'[!!]
Pages 8-19 - Albert's diary, starting 2 June 1945 (three weeks after VE Day) when he was shipped out to the Far East. His entries trace his passage from Southampton to Singapore (where he witnessed the Japanese surrender on 12 Sept), then back home to Wembley for 14 day's leave.

You'll probably conclude that Albert was a man of few words. His original entries are presented in normal font, while the 2014/15 interview additions, clarifications and context setting are italicised. It's no longer possible to know whether the italicised passages were direct transcriptions from Albert's 2014/15 interviews, or whether daughter Helen was summarising his thoughts in her own words. Very regrettably, both parties to the interviews have now died.

The photographs and maps in the diary section are, of course, the products of Helen & Philip Gristwood's independent research and compilation.

I have also uploaded scans of the source material, Albert's handwritten diary, together with a short article about Albert's war, published in the Bruton British Legion's 2005 publication, and an unidentified newspaper cutting that sets out the reasons that Albert and 200,000 other British and Indian servicemen were sent to the Far East in 1945.

Finally I must thank David Agutter (Albert's son) for all the additional material, which he unearthed from his late father's possessions.


Item list and details

1. Pdf file of Albert's 1945 diary, transcribed and expanded, in booklet form, by his daughter Helen Gristwood in 2015, following formal interviews with Albert (then 92 years old). Albert's original entries are presented in normal font, while the 2014/15 interview additions, clarifications and context setting are italicised. 2. P1 of Albert's handwritten diary 3. P2 of Albert's handwritten diary 4. P3 of Albert's handwritten diary 5. P4 of Albert's handwritten diary 6. P5 of Albert's handwritten diary 7. P6 of Albert's handwritten diary 8. P7 of Albert's handwritten diary 9. P8 of Albert's handwritten diary 10. Bruton British Legion article by Albert in 2005 11. Newspaper cutting - source unknown

Person the story/items relate to

Albert Agutter

Person who shared the story/items

Richard Carpenter (on behalf of Helen Gristwood, dec'd)

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Albert Agutter was the father of my deceased friend, Helen Gristwood

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID