Edward Aubrey served from 10 February 1916 to 19 February 1919. He kept a diary from May 1917 to November 1917, but carried on using it until 1919 to make notes in. He tore some pages out occasionally to send home to relatives.
You can see his diary now:
- World War I diary kept by Edward Herbert Aubrey (1891-1963)
- View images of Soldier's Diary
- View Soldier's Diary as PDF [13.6 MB]
Edward's war started with embarking on the Waihora in December 1916 with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 19th Reinforcements, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. Aubrey served in Egypt; and after being wounded on 5 November 1917 part of his left leg was amputated.
1917 November 5 Mon
Wounded 12-30 mid day
Operated on again to have tubes put in my leg & knee fixed up a little
1917 November 13 Tues
Another operation on Nov 19th to have my leg off
His war record simply says "Lost leg".
His diary offers a good insight into goings on of the First World War - the fighting, but also the waiting and day-to-day life (see 28 June 1917):
Nothing startling has happened here today. We have put in the time in the same old way doing some reading & writing and having some arguments.
All the New Zealanders are being issued today with high velocity rifles & are handing in our old ones. Our regiment rode over to Khan Yunus in the morning it is a small native town on our new railway line & we have a large dump there. We got our new rifles & also new bayonets there & so should be able to do something wonderful the next battle we are in
1917 June 2 Sat
The place we left was heavily bombed today & the Yeomanry that relieved us a lost a good many horses & several men. We had an easy day today & weren't worried with bombs or shells. Sent part of this diary back to New Zealand to-day up to May [1st] 1917
Left Oaklands Park Hosp. on Dec 8th 1918 after being there for 8 months & 8 days
Dec 9th 1918
Went on board Ambulance Transport Ruahine at 4 pm on Dec 8th. at Lilbury Docks Thames River.
Drew out from wharf at 3 am on Dec 9th & lay in stream until 1 pm that day. so sailed from England on Dec 9th 1918 so had 10 months & 4 days in hosp. in the old country.
The sea is calm today & we are looking forward to a good trip home
Edward Aubrey spent his remaining service in medical care in Egypt and then Britain ("10 months & 4 days in hosp. in the old country). When he arrived back home in New Zealand, he returned to farming in the Omarama area on land won in a ballot as part of a Returned Soldiers' initiative.
the Southern Cross tonight & first time I've seen it since 1916 so seems as if we are getting near home again.
Sunday 5th 1919
We had a church parade today & a funeral at same time. A man named Cox died of pneumonia after four days illness
He died at 9 am today & was buried at 11 am.
He was a
I spotted a familiar address in his diary, Dover Street in St Albans - probably the address of one of his mates, and did a wee delve, and wonder if this is his wedding announcement in the Otago Daily Times (12 May 1920). Edward died in 1963.
Find out more about the First World War:
- First World War 1914 to 1918
- WW100 – New Zealand’s First World War centenary commemorations
- Our digital collection