The Poignant Diary of Private John Johnstone Alexander Bullock

Within the auction business, we see rather a lot of campaign medals from both WWI and II.


Due to their ubiquity, the vast majority of these make relatively modest sums, and it can sometimes be easy for people to forget the acts of great sacrifice made by the everyday servicemen and women behind them.

Lot 101 poignantly illustrates the brief career of one of those people. The medals themselves are amongst the more commonplace campaign ones, and alone, a suitable auction estimate would be £20-40. The related items changes that completely, with the photograph of the fresh faced Private Bullock looking out at us, rather pleased with himself in his military attire. This contrasts dramatically with the progression of his diary, and it is hard not to be deeply moved when reading this. 

The swift process of enlisting, to being deployed and soon wounded (though hopeful of survival), is stark. His death came but one week later; at just 19, a life of promise so cruelly taken. The feeling of despondency only grows when reading a letter from his church in Coatbridge, where he was organist, and then discovering that it was his intention to go to London after the war to study at the music college.

Further letters from a family in Belgium who tended his grave are present too, with them having left flowers each year on his birthday.

It's hard not to be moved by this story, one of so many during the war. All of this make it such a poignant and standout archive, with the estimate of £200-400 reflecting that.



For a complimentary, no-obligation valuation, visit our Glasgow Galleries or contact a specialist on 0141 810 2880 or

James Bruce

James Bruce


Valuer and Auctioneer


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