Soldier mixed battles with playing in band

21:07, Apr 25 2013
Private Arthur Robert Quedley's World War One diary
HANDED DOWN: Invercargill resident Dave Gordon with his great uncle's World War I diary.

"April 23, 1917 - Fatigue in the trenches. I am hit in the foot by a piece of shrapnel. Pain but no wound."

In a neat pencilled cursive script, in the trenches near Messines, Belgium, Private Arthur Robert Quedley makes a note in his diary, a pocket-sized black book.

Nearly 100 years later, Private Quedley's great nephew, Invercargill man Dave Gordon, carefully turns the pages of that same book.

Private Arthur Robert Quedley's World War One diary
HISTORIC RECORD: Pages from the Diary of Events – War 1916-1917, 1918-finish by A Quedley.

The pages are faded and fragile, showing their age, but are still able to tell a story.

"We left Wellington on Saturday July 29, 1916, on the troopship Ulimaroa at 9.30pm. On Sunday I saw my last sight of New Zealand."

Almost a year later, Private Quedley, a saddler from Auckland, found himself on a battlefield in Belgium advancing the Allied frontline at the Battle of Messines between June 7 and 14, 1917.

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"June 6, 1917 - Ordered to trenches at 6pm. Ready for attack.

"June 7, 1917 - Attack on Messines at 4am. Captured by NZ forces first waves. All NZ objectives taken. Fred Taylor killed in no man's land, hit in neck. Jack Barr wounded in leg. 20 holes in him with shrapnel and Roy Sinclair reported missing - later gassed and shellshock."

Private Quedley survived the Battle of Messines and found himself in action at Ypres a few months later.

"October 1, 1917 - Battalion onto Ypres.

"October 2, 1917 - Battalion on to the trenches.

"October 4, 1917 - Attacks on German trenches all positions captured. Battalion doing well - plenty of Hun prisoners captured. Rain.

"October 5, 1917 - Three counter attacks by Germans. All broken. Still raining."

A trumpet player, Private

Quedley writes often about performing in the military band in between the chaos of war.

"October 14, 1917 - Morning practice. Church parade afternoon. Fritz over bombing in daylight and again at night. Dropped parachute flares to light up ground. Where to bomb.

"October 15, 1917 - Played programme for battalion at their camp. Night Fritz dropped bombs all around our camp.

"October 16, 1917 - Practice.

"October 17, 1917 - Our planes brought down a Fritz from a great height on fire. Anti-aircraft brought down one.

October 19, 1917 - Practice."

Mr Gordon said he met his great uncle in 1946 when he was four years old.

"I remember him visiting my grandmother always with his trumpet," he said.

"He would often leave it in a cupboard at her house."

When he was about five years old, Mr Gordon said his great uncle disappeared along with his trumpet.

"I never saw them again," he said.

The small, faded diary was handed down to Mr Gordon from his mother who in turn was given the diary from Mr Gordon's grandmother, Private Quedley's sister.

"It is a part of history. It tells a story about what people went through," Mr Gordon said.

The Southland Times