Wartime driver’s diary goes global

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A SECOND World War PoW, who lived for 20 years in Wooler, may have been the world’s first Twitter user without even knowing it.

Ross Selkirk Taylor kept a pocket diary in 1940 when he was a British Army driver.

Later in the year he was captured in France while serving in the Royal Army Service Corps and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

Following his death in September last year, aged 92, his grandson Chris Ayres, a contributing editor at the Sunday Times, noticed that all of his grandfather’s diary entries were under 140 characters, the limit for a message on the popular micro-blogging site.

Combining the short entries and modern technology, throughout 2012 he will be tweeting the diary entries day by day, providing an insight into a soldier’s life 72 years ago.

The Twitter account @driverross started on December 31 with the first diary entry on January 1.

By yesterday the account had more than 2,700 followers.

At the start of 1940, Ross was in Chesterfield learning how to drive a three-ton Bedford truck and missing his girlfriend and future wife Florence.

He wrote: “New Year’s Day and no Flo. What a way to start a new year.”

On January 3, Ross seemed to have the same back-to-work feel as many people in 2012.

He wrote: “Usual driving and lectures.”

l For more on Ross Taylor’s wartime diary, see next week’s Gazette.