Edward Michael McNamee was born at Orange, New South Wales, in 1888. The 26-year-old labourer enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 18 December 1914 and departed Brisbane with reinforcements for the 9th Infantry Battalion aboard HMAT Seang Choon on 13 February 1915.In May 1915 McNamee joined the battalion on Gallipoli. After serving on the peninsula he was sent to the Western Front in March 1916. In his diary McNamee recorded short daily entries describing his experiences of trench fighting on the front in 1916 and 1917. One such entry concerned the opening stages of Pozieres on 22 July 1916, which he called "the great Australian attack in France", and commented on the Australian advance against heavy machine-gun fire.McNamee continued to serve on the Western Front for the remainder of the war and on two occasions in 1918 was admitted to hospital due to the effects of gas attacks. He returned to Australia in early 1919 and was discharged in March that year.