Woman discovers grandfather’s secret sketches of First World War

Douglas Chambers who served in the Somme with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Sketches from the battlefields of WW1 drawn by a young soldier who never spoke of his time in the trenches have been found by his family - 100 YEARS later.
Douglas Chambers who served in the Somme with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Sketches from the battlefields of WW1 drawn by a young soldier who never spoke of his time in the trenches have been found by his family - 100 YEARS later.
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sketches from the battlefields of the First World War drawn by a young soldier who never spoke of his time in the trenches have been found by his family, 100 years later.

The intricate drawings and caricatures were by Douglas Arthur Chambers who was just 20 years old when he went off to fight in the Great War.

He documented his time in the Army with satirical and dramatic drawings, from training in the UK to his time at the Battle of the Somme. Mr Chambers, who died in 1975 aged 80, never spoke of his time in the war, or his drawings, but his sketch books were recently discovered by his granddaughter Sue Doyle, 62.

Mrs Doyle, a nurse who lives in Taunton, Somerset, with husband, Christopher, 63, said: “I knew nothing at all about his service before finding these sketch books, he didn’t talk about it.

“He was a very quiet gentleman and kept himself to himself. He was lovely company but didn’t talk about his war experiences at all.

“I’m not surprised he didn’t talk about them because he was obviously compartmentalising his experiences.

“He was in the Royal Army Medical Corps. It must have been a traumatic experience. One of the captions was ‘I want to go home’.”

The satirical sketches cover a range of army scenes, from shouting drill instructors to malfunctioning showers.

One features a medic digging a hole with the caption “Join the R.A.M.A, to ‘tend the wounded’”.

Another shows a soldier scrubbing a wooden floor above the question, “What did you do in the great war, daddie?”

Mrs Doyle said finding the sketches was a moving experience and she is proud of her grandfather’s service.

Now, she intends to publish the sketches in a book so more people can enjoy his artwork.

She said: “They are extremely poignant, the pictures, and some are shocking, but I’m extremely pleased to have found them.

“I’m proud of his artistic skill, he had a black humour which must have kept him going.

“I’m thrilled that people are having the opportunity now to see them because they are a different historical record.

“They were drawn contemporaneously, not afterwards – they were done while he was actually there.”