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Images from Tims War
  “We start our advance at 8 am. Shellfire heavy, and we encounter heavy machine-gun resistance in Jean Copse after passing Longavesnes and Liéramont. Enemy Observation Balloons a nuisance, but our planes bring them down in flames… Casualties ” Tim’s Wars page 115  
It ain’t ‘alf muddy, Mum
  image from Tims War  
  Those of us of a certain age will
remember the sitcom It ain’t half hot,
, about a hapless concert party
entertaining the troops and avoiding
the fighting in the heat of the
Indian jungle.
  The armed forces have a history of
finding their own entertainers from
within their ranks and Tim Elliott
would have been in demand for his
experience not only as an actor, but
also as writer, director and producer.
  Despite his experience Tim doesn’t
join any troupe until after the
armistice, when, in December 1918,
he joins The Quavers, the battalion
concert party. On 14 December he
comments: ‘played Madame
Acquatais [with Major Nicholls] at
Brigade Concert. This was my first
appearance as a girl, and rather
difficult as I only had on a bathing
costume. It was a great success.’
  His evident enjoyment, and obvious skill, makes it all the more surprising that he did not continue to tread the boards even as an amateur. Perhaps he thinks, with Prospero: ‘These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air.’  
  Tim's Wars
To misquote Lady Bracknell, to have served in one world war may be regarded as a misfortune, to have served in two looks like carelessness.

Timothy Elliott would probably have appreciated the sentiment. He was a budding actor and playwright, poised to make the transition from amateur to professional, when on 9 November 1914 he volunteered to fight for king and country and enlisted in the Ninth Battalion City of London (Queen Victoria’s) Rifles. He saw action in both battles of the Somme, was frequently shelled and was wounded, if not seriously. He learned much about the French people with whom he was often billeted and his acting experience was useful too; he joined a concert party to entertain the troops.

photo of a Tim Elliott

Throughout his experiences he kept a series of diaries, often tiny books inscribed and laboured over by candlelight at the end of long days of terror and tedium. It is his personal record of the First World War which is published in Tim’s Wars.

Robin Gregory, a psychologist by training, contends that his father in law, although outwardly unscathed, was profoundly altered by his war experiences. Before the First World War, Tim seemed set on working in the world of entertainment as actor, writer, producer and critic.
photos from Tims War

After the war, instead of resuming his acting
career, he trained as a Registered Mental Nurse,
qualifying in 1922. Often his patients were those
affected by experiences similar to his own.
The inference can surely be made that Tim’s war
experiences made him dissatisfied with the
ephemera of his former life, and resolved to devote
his future years to making a positive difference.
Yet, even in his private diaries, Tim never explained his change of career.

Tim Elliott’s story doesn’t end with the end
of the First World War. He continued to write down
the story of his life in the various happenings
which filled his days. As Robin Gregory says in
the book’s Introduction: ‘the effect that four years
serving in the army on the Western Front had had
upon him begins to appear in his writing, and for
that reason I have surveyed his diary-keeping
(quoting where relevant) during the inter-war
years, continuing this survey to see how he
reacted to the arrival of another war in 1939’.

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