List of Australian diarists of World War I

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.

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

Personal diariesEdit

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 diariesEdit

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 diaristsEdit

See alsoEdit


  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. 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)
  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 readingEdit

  • 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 linksEdit