THE handwritten diary belonging to Private William Harvey Dudley has opened a window on the digger’s extraordinary exploits on the battlefield at Gallipoli.
Private Dudley went to become the first digger from World War I to become a superintendent of the NSW Police Force and after his retirement from service at Goulburn, he retired to the Narooma area and is buried at the town cemetery at Glasshouse Rocks.
The digger’s son Bill Dudley also joined the police force becoming Narooma’s well-known Sergeant of police serving from the late 1950s to the late 1970's.
Now the digger’s grandson, also Bill Dudley, is keen to have that diary turned into a book as he said it was remarkably well written, telling some amazing tales of bravery and courage.
According to a publication from 1944, Private Dudley copped seven bullets on the battlefield.
“Victory of mind over matter perhaps best epitomises the career of Superintendent Dudley, whose mementos of his Gallipoli service include a bullet (still located in the spine) and another bullet (still under the right shoulder,” the Reveille article reads.
“These are two of seven enemy bullets which wrote ‘finis’ to his active campaigning during the Lone Pine attack at Anzac in August 1915 and he remained where he fell for 48 hours before stretcher-bearers had a chance to bring him in…”
Digger Dudley joined up with the 4th Battalion AIF at the outset of the war and is first battle experience was during the attack on the Suez Canal prior to Gallipoli.
Three days after being in the vanguard of the landing on the memorable morning of April 25, 1915, he was slightly wounded after taking a Turkish bullet to the right forearm.
“After receiving treatment at an advanced dressing station, he returned to the firing line.”
“Because of the tough corners he got around over the subsequent weeks, he perhaps felt that there was no other bullet made for him, but in the gallant charge at Lone Pine he was one among countless others mown down by intense enemy fire.”
The article then outlines the gory details saying one bullet went through the forehead through the roof of his mouth into his second vertebrae where it remained, another went near his right lung, one through the left leg above the knee, one though the groin, one through the right arm, one through the right shoulder and the last one cutting ribs on the right side.
He was taken to a hospital at Alexandria, Egypt where he recuperated for 17 weeks before returning to Australia on a troop ship as a “cot case”.
Now the wife of one of his son Harry found his diary in a suitcase, which outlines in his own hand and words in great detail his experiences on the battlefield.
“Everyone’s been blown away by it and are saying we should turn it into a book that everyone can read,” Bill Dudley said.
Now local woman and family friend Val Loader and her daughter have completed the painstaking task of transcribing the diary typing each word up into a manuscript that now just needs to find a publisher.
He also plans to speak to the family about donating the original diary to the Australian War Memorial.
Digger Dudley meanwhile went on to have a long illustrious career in the police force including being involved in the arrest of the infamous Colonel Francis Edward de Groot who gate crashed the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on March 19, 1932.
The family tradition of serving in law enforcement continues with one of Bill’s sons Mark just recently promoted to the rank of sergeant and currently serving in the Monaro Local Area Command, while his other son Brad is a boating safety officer with Roads and Maritime Services and recently assigned to the Jervis Bay, Sussex Inlet area.