The Soldiers’ Bond – Operation War Diary Volunteers and the Men Who Fought 100 Years Ago

In the short time I’ve been working on Operation War Diary, I’ve been privileged to go behind the anonymity of our onscreen usernames and get to know some of our Citizen Historians a little better. There are people from all walks of life and backgrounds giving up their time to help preserve the legacy of the men who fought and died 100 years ago. For all of us, reading the war diaries can be a humbling, often deeply saddening experience, but many of our volunteers have served in the military themselves, and I’ve often wondered how their own experiences affected them as they worked on the project.

Kris Bancroft, a former U.S. Army Artilleryman and veteran of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, was kind enough to tell me what it means to him.

I always wanted to be a soldier, so much that I joined the U.S. Army National Guard shortly after I turned 17 years old.  A few days after I graduated from High School in 1989, I made the decision to go on active duty, and my life has never been the same since.  Not long ago, I came across Operation War Diary.  As a combat veteran with severe PTSD, I must admit that my first thought after reading and tagging a few war diary pages was that I was making a mistake.  Instead, I discovered a connection that has kept me coming back night after night.  I read about the harsh winter weather, and the hot summer days.  I tag the names of soldiers who come and go, and even more who will never leave the fields and trenches.  In short, I find that I relate to soldiers mentioned in the war diaries and all they have gone through.  Thanks to Operation War Diary, I have been given a chance to do something meaningful to honor the soldiers of “The Great War”.

Image © IWM (Q 5817) - Three 8 inch howitzers of 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), firing from the Fricourt-Mametz Valley during the Battle of the Somme, August 1916

Image © IWM (Q 5817) – Three 8 inch howitzers of 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), firing from the Fricourt-Mametz Valley during the Battle of the Somme, August 1916

As well as the time and energy Kris invests in Operation War Diary, he also runs a popular YouTube channel, IKINA WANA (also known as Warfighters), which he created to honour all soldiers from all countries. In the past he’s used the profits from the channel to support veterans’ causes across the United States, including the creation of memorials to comrades who didn’t come home. Kris has also very generously offered to donate profits from the channel to the Imperial War Museum to help us preserve the past and we’re incredibly grateful for his support. 

You can visit IKINA WANA here: https://www.youtube.com/user/justmekkb

Why not get in touch and tell us what Operation War Diary means to you? You can get involved at http://www.operationwardiary.org/

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