A DIARY and sketchbook belonging to a prisoner of war feature in a fascinating exhibition exploring the impact of the armistice on the people of the North East.

Gateshead-born Captain Henry Wilkinson, of the Durham Light Infantry, kept a written record of his experiences as a prisoner of war in Stralsund in Germany in 1918.

The diary gives a valuable insight into what everyday life was like for the prisoners, with Henry describing the frequent sports he played and the 86 books he read.

His account gives a sense of the suppressed excitement and mounting hope as rumours of the armistice filtered through the prison, followed by the “great joy” when peace was declared.

The diary and Henry’s sketchbook are part of the DLI Archives but have been loaned to Durham Cathedral for a special exhibition marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Armistice: Living with the Peace runs at Durham Cathedral until February 2, 2019, and explores what the end of the war meant to the people of County Durham.

Henry’s diary is included in the exhibition as it provides a first-hand account of an officer who was on German soil when peace was declared.

On November 12, 1918, he writes: “News of the armistice effected at 11am yesterday filtered through and great joy existed - all POW were to go home immediately, so that we expected to leave at any time. The Commandant returned to control the camp under the Muller!! Played in the Rugger Trial, but my form was below par.”

On November 22, he was still in Stralsund but the mood was jubilant. “A great day – 3 cases of wine arrived for Southern and Co. and we of course participated. The next door people also drank wine and were very rowdy! News came in that 600 of us were to move via Sassnitz on the 27th, which nobody believed.”

Gill Parkes, principal archivist at Durham County Record Office, says: “Documents like Henry Wilkinson’s sketch book and diary are among the most treasured in the collection.

“They provide an insight into the thoughts and feelings of DLI soldiers, helping us to understand the impact of the war on those who lived through it.

“We are thrilled the diary and sketchbook are included in the exhibition and would urge people to go and see it.”

After the war, Henry married his sweetheart Dorothy ‘Dolly’ Rigby Wills and settled in County Down in Northern Ireland.

To find out more about Armistice: Living with the Peace, visit durhamcathedral.co.uk/whats-on/armistice

For more information about Durham County Record Office, visit durhamrecordoffice.org.uk