A SECRET account of life as a soldier during the Second World War has gone on show.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Lieutenant Ken Taylor found an exercise book in a German bunker hours after storming the Normandy beaches.

Despite a strict ban on soldiers keeping diaries, the Green Howards infantryman used the book to record his experiences, from inside the landing craft to the 6th Battalion's passage through France, Belgium and into Holland.

The daily chronicle, written in secret at night, gives a vivid and poignant picture of a soldier's life during the war.

This week, Mr Taylor, now 86, presented a transcript of the diary to the Green Howards Museum, in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

The first entry written, describing the D-Day landing, reads: "Awakened early in the darkness. Went on deck into the cold air to watch the glow over the French coast where the RAF is busy.

"Eventually approached the beach and found things difficult.

"Shrapnel hitting the craft so we jumped for it at 0800hrs and water only up to waist. Cairns hit in leg."

Later in the campaign to liberate Europe, the battalion arrived at the Nijmegen Bridge, in Holland, days after it had been captured by Allied forces.

That night, Mr Taylor wrote: "It is a magnificent bridge and its capture is a marvellous achievement. As you walk across, the Luftwaffe in the offing and shells imminent, you feel just about the biggest target in Europe. The enemy will now do everything to wipe out this bridge."

Mr Taylor, from Bolton, in Lancashire, later drew the bridge and pasted the pictures into his diary.

In late November 1944, 50th Division, of which the 6th Battalion of The Green Howards was part, was broken up.

Mr Taylor returned to England and stopped writing the diary.

Major Roger Chapman, Green Howards museum curator, described the account as a unique piece of history.

He said: "The soldiers were not allowed to keep diaries in case they were captured, as the information they contained could then be used by enemy forces.

"But Mr Taylor realised this was history in the making and decided that someone had to record it."

Mr Taylor, a fluent French speaker, later returned to mainland Europe as a liaison officer with the Belgian Army.

In Brussels, he met Franoise, a young artist, whom he later married.

This week, the couple and their son Patrick visited the Green Howards museum to show staff the dairies, hand over the transcript and see a film of D-Day.

* The war diaries can be viewed online at www.patricktaylor.com/war-diary-1/