42110 PTE. N.M. INGRAM
Monty Ingram left his home in Whakatane in April 1917. He joined the 23rd Reinforcements E Company. His Military Personal File record reads like thousands of others – he was “marched into Sling”, then “proceeded overseas”. But unlike thousands of others and against military regulations he kept a diary and what a diary it is!
“The following pages represent a humble effort to put on record my experiences in the Great War. They comprise the contents of my diaries kept during the years 1917 and 1918, amplified by references to letters which I had written home, and which had been carefully preserved by my mother. My sole reason for typing this, is that when old age creeps upon me, and memory is dimmed, I shall be able to recall those stirring days when the whole world went mad, and the leading nations were tearing at each others throats in an ecstasy of hate. I make no claim that my esperiences were in any way out of the ordinary; they merely record the everyday life of a “Digger” in the N.Z.E.F. What I endured and enjoyed, many thousands of others also endured and enjoyed.“
First titled by Monty – “A Nonentity in Khaki” the diary gives a vital insight into the life of an ordinary soldier during the First World War. It brings an immediacy to their experiences not found in history books.
“We are due to go over the top on the morning of the 4th, our advance is to be strictly limited to about 1700 yards and our objectives are Abraham Heights, Gravenstafel Village and Waterloo Farm.”
From the excitement of new places to the boredom of repetitive drilling, from the relief and euphoria of survival to the desolation and hardening of being surrounded by death.
“Thank God! I have obtained a greatcoat at last, I would not have survived much longer without one as it is bitterly cold. The man I robbed will not grudge me his coat – he needs it no longer – he is dead.“
Monty survived the war and after 2 years and 83 days of service he returned home to New Zealand. He got on with his life, married and raised a family.
He died in 1976 but his diary lives on.
It was first published in the 1980s under the title “Anzac Diary” after a copy, which had been in the library of the Christchurch R.S.A., was made available for printing.
Then in 2006 a fine hard back edition was published by David Ling as ” In Flanders Fields, The World War One Diary of Private Monty Ingram”.