Diary cover tells a tragic story

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For Condorrat man Eddie Quinn the annual Remembrance events this year were thrown into sharp focus by a friend’s poignant keepsake.

His former colleague Ian Fairley loaned him the diary belonging to his grandfather, Alun Mennie, a Scot who emigrated to Canada before enlisting in the Manitoba Rifles when war was declared in 1914.

The pocket book, where the soldier’s daily experiences are on the Western Front are written neatly in pencil, has no diary entries after July 1, 1916.

The last two words written are “very quiet”, following what seems to have been a routine half- hour’s shelling of the position by “Fritz”.

Tragically the next day, July 2, Alun Mennie – whose name is inscribed on the Menin Gate in Ypres – was shot dead.

The diary, which the soldier kept in his breast pocket, clearly shows the jagged bullet hole caused by the fatal shot.

Eddie Quinn said: “My own father died in the First World War while serving with the HLI.

“I have read this diary and it is very moving – all the more so because you can see where the bullet which killed this man has passed through the cover and pages.”

At the back of his diary, Alun Mennie reveals a talent for war poetry, with verses full of wit and humour.

Elsewhere he talks about the death of “poor Hawthorne” , who died after his platoon’s trench was hit by German mortar fire.

Eddie Quinn added: “I am glad he is remembered on the Menin Gate, along with so many others.”