List of Australian diarists of World War I

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George Griffin, 53rd Battalion, with his diary[1]

This is a list of Australian diarists of World War I including Australian servicemen and women, other Australians associated with the armed forces, and those who remained in Australia.

Personal diaries[edit]

Many soldiers chose to keep a diary to document their personal experiences during the conflict.[2] Regulations forbade the practice of individual soldiers keeping diaries in front line positions, yet the practice was apparently not uncommon.[3] Individual diaries were officially forbidden because their capture by the enemy could yield valuable intelligence regarding unit identification, troop movements, etc.[4] Individual diaries had to be portable and easily hidden. Many were approximately 9.5 by 15 centimetres (3.7 in × 5.9 in), which made them small enough to fit in a chest pocket.[5] Next of kin were often listed.[5] While the original diaries were handwritten, many soldiers later rewrote or typed their diary[6]: 152  with some also publishing their work. Most diaries were kept by the soldier or their family. Military units were required to keep official records,[7] which are also referred to as War Diaries.[8] These records cover operations and planning, administration, and personnel.[8] They were updated on a daily basis.[9] These records are now at the Australian War Memorial.[10]

Collecting the diaries[edit]

Many diaries were retained by the soldier or their family, however some of the surviving diaries are held in the collections of Australian cultural institutions including the Australian War Memorial,[11] National Archives of Australia,[12] State Library of New South Wales,[13] State Library of Queensland,[14] State Library of South Australia,[15] and State Library of Victoria.[16][17] The Australian War Memorial and the State Library of New South Wales were the first in Australia to attempt to collect war diaries on a large scale.[6]: 134  The urge to collect these documents reflected contemporary understandings of history and research, which emphasised the role of primary sources and saw history as a science instead of an art.[6]: 138  While the Library prioritised original documents over copies,[6]: 137  the Memorial instead collected both original documents and copies.[6]: 149 

William Ifould, Principal Librarian at the Public Library of New South Wales (later State Library of New South Wales),[18] led a collecting drive which began within six months of the conclusion of the war.[6]: 136  [19]: 90  Ifould arranged for advertisements in newspapers across Australia offering to buy relevant papers for the Library,[20][21][22] and also reached out to soldiers through the Returned Soldiers' Association of New South Wales.[6]: 137  Efforts focused on diaries documenting training and active service,[19]: 92  with accounts recorded "at the moment" or as soon after as possible considered the most useful.[6]: 141 

The Memorial aimed to document the whole of Australia's war experience, initially focusing on published sources and the official records of the war.[6]: 142  The Memorial began collecting personal documents including diaries in 1927.[6]: 142  It was Arthur Bazley, historian Charles Bean's assistant at the Memorial, who suggested using the addresses recorded in the Roll of Honour Circulars to contact next-of-kin (and, later, servicemen and women directly[6]: 149 ) to ask for diaries and personal papers to be donated.[6]: 144  John Treloar, Director of the Memorial, publicised the project and encouraged donations.[6]: 142 

In total, 416,809 Australians enlisted for service.[23] Only 500 diaries were collected by the Library, despite wide advertising, while approximately one in four soldiers or families contacted by the Memorial donated material.[6]: 151 

List of diarists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barlass, Tim (25 November 2013). "A look at the Digger picture". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Memoirs & Diaries – Introduction". First World War. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  3. ^ article
  4. ^ The Atlantic article
  5. ^ a b "Diary and letter collections". World War I Research Guide. State Library of NSW. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Conde, Anne-Marie (April 2005). "Capturing the records of war: collecting at the Mitchell Library and the Australian War Memorial". Australian Historical Studies. 37 (125): 134–152. doi:10.1080/10314610508682915. S2CID 144456137. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Research Centre collections". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b "First World War (1914–1918)". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  9. ^ "First World War Diaries Description". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  10. ^ "War Diaries". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Research Centre collections". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Boer War to Vietnam". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Can you tell us more about our WWI diaries?". State Library of NSW. Archived from the original on 15 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  14. ^ "QUEENSLAND'S WORLD WAR 1 CENTENARY BLOG". State Library of Queensland. Archived from the original on 16 November 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Personal Experiences". Military Records. State Library of South Australia. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Letters & diaries". State Library of Victoria. Archived from the original on 14 February 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  17. ^ La Trobe Library; Dewar, Shona, 1958–; State Library of Victoria (1990), 'Having a lively time' : Australians at Gallipoli in 1915 : a catalogue of material held in the Australian Manuscripts Collection, La Trobe Library, State Library of Victoria, Council of the State Library of Victoria, ISBN 978-0-7241-9667-8{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Arnot, Jean F. "Ifould, William Herbert (1877–1969)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  19. ^ a b Fletcher, Brian H. (Brian Hinton); State Library of New South Wales (2007), Magnificent obsession : the story of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, Allen & Unwin in association with State Library of New South Wales, ISBN 978-1-74175-291-5
  20. ^ "Advertising". South Australian Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 22 March 1919. p. 8. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  21. ^ "Advertising". Western Mail. Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 17 January 1919. p. 39. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Advertising". Moree Gwydir Examiner and General Advertiser. NSW: National Library of Australia. 14 February 1919. p. 5. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Enlistment statistics and standards, First World War". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Documents". Imperial War Museum. Archived from the original on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barwick, Archie (2013). In great spirits : the WWI diary of Archie Barwick. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780732297183.
  • Bean, C.E.W. (1921). Official history of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. Angus & Robertson.
  • Carlyon, Les (2010). Gallipoli. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 9780330426039.
  • Carylon, Les (2006). The Great War. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 9781405037617.
  • Cull, William Ambrose (1919). At all costs. Australasian Authors' Agency.
  • Evans, Eric S. (2002). So far from home : the remarkable diaries of Eric Evans, an Australian soldier during World War I. Kangaroo Press. ISBN 9780731810680.
  • Fussell, Paul (2000). The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195021714.
  • Gammage, Bill (1974). The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War. Australian National University Press. ISBN 9780708102381.
  • Hadfield, Arthur; McAndrew, Ian L. (1996). What did you do in the great war, dad! : the diary of sapper Arthur Hadfield, 25 October 1916 to 26 August 1919. I. McAndrew. ISBN 9780646294490.
  • Kerr, Greg (2000). Private wars : personal records of the Anzacs in the Great War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195507997.
  • King, Jonathan (2010). Gallipoli diaries : the Anzacs' own story day by day. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780731813551.
  • King, Jonathan (2010). The Western Front diaries : the ANZACs' own story, battle by battle. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780731814398.
  • Noble, Robert Jackson; Noble, James C. (2004). War diaries of a veterinary sergeant : 20th October 1915–10th October 1919. James C. Noble. ISBN 9780646435084.
  • Winter, Denis (1988). Death's Men: Soldiers of the Great War. Penguin Books.

External links[edit]