Esperance woman's grandpa was the trumpeter who could silence guns

Kalgoorlie soldier Ted McMahon is becoming known as the trumpeter whose music could silence gunfire.

Kalgoorlie soldier Ted McMahon is becoming known as the trumpeter whose music could silence gunfire.

GALLIPOLI was known to be a place too bleak for music.

Unlike the Western Front, soldiers were unable to retreat to recreation and for the most part, Gallipoli offered no solace.

That changed for one moment on August 4, 1915.

Anzacs, Gurkhas and Indian troopers were massed on a sheltered slope behind their trenches, with Turkish soldiers just a few yards away, when it was suggested a campfire concert would be good for morale.

During the concert, rifle and machine gun carried on as usual, increasing when Kalgoorlie cornet player Ted McMahon played the first verse of a popular tune called The Rosary.

In the second, only spasmodic shots could be heard and by the third and final verse, the battlefield fell silent.

In his war diary, McMahon recalled: "As I started to play on this beautiful quiet night when the sound of my trumpet would carry for a considerable distance, a real barrage of small arms fire broke out.

"During the second verse only spasmodic shots could be heard and as I started to play the final verse all was still: not a sound could be heard.

"The charm of music had cast a spell over all and for a time the war was forgotten."

Almost 100 years later, that very same instrument calls Esperance home.

Local woman Kerry Everett is the step granddaughter of McMahon and has the cornet in her possession.

She inherited it from her stepfather, but did not learn its significance until much later.

The mystery was revealed when a Turkish historian contacted Australian historian Chris Latham in search for the trumpeter whose music could silence gunfire, leading him to Mrs Everett.

"It's one of just seven war instruments from World War I remaining in the country," she said.

"I really am at a loss about what to do with it - it's so, so precious.

"We can't insure it because they don't know what it's worth, it may well go to the Canberra War Memorial, but it's also a family heirloom."

On April 12, Mrs Everett attended the first concert of a series of 25 called The Flowers of War, which honoured the impact of musicians during the war.

She said when Sydney Symphony Orchestra cornet player Paul Goodchild held the cornet, he compared the experience to being "like holding Sir Donald Bradman's bat".

For now, Mrs Everett said the family heirloom would stay in Esperance, "where it lives", in her proud possession, serving as a memory of her beloved grandfather.

"I grew up with him, he was the funniest little man," she said.

"He used to play every New Year's Eve and every Anzac Day until he was too old to play."

She said the mystery around the story was a testament to the man.

"That's the thing about it, they didn't play for any sort of glory, they just played to make their mates feel OK."

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