1917 Hounslow Diary Discovered

Details Cpl Tucker's experience with air crashes and a busy love life

Corporal Gordon Tucker


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Volunteer researchers have located a miniature 1917 pocket diary which describes the life of a mechanic working at Hounslow Aerodrome during World War I.

The 1917 diary is one of four covering the period 1916-1919, each measuring just 3”x2”, which detail Gordon Tucker’s experience as an air mechanic and rigger during World War I at Beaulieu, Hounslow and Wye aerodromes, which are now on display at Hounslow Library, Hounslow House, 7 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EB until 29 November.

These came to light as a result of a National Lottery Heritage Fund World War I project which aimed to discover what was happening in three Kent villages including Wye during World War I. A quick search on Ancestry UK by a volunteer researcher revealed that Tucker had two surviving sons, one of whom living in Ashtead in Surrey was in possession of the diaries.

The diary was kept by Corporal Gordon Tucker and is notable not just for the descriptions of numerous crashes that he had to deal with on a daily basis, but also for his complicated lovelife. While working at Hounslow during 1917 he dated at least ten different girls and sometimes went out with two individuals on the same night.

Gordon’s elaborate lovelife was perhaps not that unusual at the time. More airmen were killed in training during World War I than in actual combat and this perhaps inspired a desire to live life to the full while they could. While Gordon was a mechanic, he frequently flew with the trainee airmen and describes hair-raising incidents throughout the diary when he could easily have lost his life.

In fact, he survived the war and took up a job at a coal distributing company. The diary, however, is full of brief reference to those who were not so lucky. In one entry for 2 July, for example, he records: ‘Lovely day. Two Curtis smashes. In the evening go to the Alcazar to see the Battle of Arras. Not up to much.’

Extracts from the diaries have been compiled into a small exhibition along with Gordon Tucker’s VPK camera, personal photo albums, uniform and detailed handwritten rigging manuals. Schools and local history groups can arrange visits to view the exhibition by emailing communications@hounslow.gov.uk.

November 13, 2019

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