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Preface to Edward Packe's diary of World War I

Edward Packe was born in 1894, the seventh child of a country vicar. He was educated at Haileybury. By the outbreak of the Great War both his parents were dead and he was preparing for his second year studying medicine at Exeter College, Oxford University, intending to become a doctor. He was 20 years old.

When the war broke out, he abandoned University and joined up immediately as a private soldier with the nearest unit, lst Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry, stationed at Colchester, 6 August 1914. He was shipped out to the trenches in 21 August 1914.
Edward Packe at Oxford
Edward Packe at Oxford
He was made a Lance Corporal about 30 October 1914 with plans to take a Commision. Up to this point he had been reluctant to take a Commission, as he had hoped that the war would soon be over, and he could return to his medical studies. By now, he realised that this was not going to happen. He obtained a Temporary Commission in 6th Battalion of The Dorsetshire Regiment in 16 February 1915 and returned to England to train as an officer. He was back in action from 14 July 1915.

In 17 November 1915 he obtained a Regular Commission and in 17 January 1916 a secondment to the Royal Flying Corps (R.F.C.), which delighted him. He trained and served as an Observer while still abroad. He received a wound while flying over the first Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, and returned to England to have the bullet removed and on sick leave. On 14 July 1916, he became a Flying Officer, and trained as a fighter Pilot in Britain, passing his Pilot's Exam in 9 November 1916. He was made an Instructor, still in Britain, on 10 December 1916 (after 20 hours solo flying time!) He went back into action again in 11 August 1917.

After he gave up his diary in April 1918, he returned to England and served on the staff at the Air Ministry. However, he did not transfer to the R.A.F. but returned to his regiment, the 43rd. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, in 1919.

A note from the records of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry: "Our records show that [Edward Packe] was with the regiment briefly at the end of 1915/early 1916, but during the war officers were moved around frequently as the losses among the officers were heavy. He was with the 5th Battalion in Flanders from 14th December 1915, before going to the RFC in February 1916. Officers were still technically on the strength of their regiment whilst serving extra-regimentally, and the published 'Army Lists' show him on strength of the regiment throughout the war. He served with the regiment until 1930 when he retired."

Interesting events in the diary and letters

Editorial Note

The First World War Diaries were kept in a series of note books. Sometime during the 1950s, Edward Packe transcribed them on his typewriter, with possible editorial additions or deletions. He used a red ribbon on the reverse of letterheaded paper of poor quality. The result was difficult to read and unsuitable for photocopying. He also grouped together the entries for each day for every year, producing pages similar to those in a five year diary. He destroyed the original manuscripts of the diaries after transcribing them. I have made a further transcription and put the Diary back into date order to make it easier for a reader to follow the story.

John Dibblee (husband of Celia, daughter of Edward Packe)

In 2005, I decided to put my grandfather's diaries, letters and photos on the web, partly to make them available to the whole of our extended family, and partly in the hope that other people would be interested in my grandfather's experiences In World Wars I and II.

Joanna Edkins (daughter of John and Celia Dibblee)

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