Words of War: letters and diaries of Queenslanders who served 1914-1918

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The collections of the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland contain a wide variety of material related to the First World War, including photographs, documents, newspapers, diaries, maps, posters, books, magazines, letters, and medals.

Through this rich resource of manuscripts and memorabilia we can reach into the lives of the men and women who served – soldiers, nurses, chaplains, and the families they left behind.

These guides provide links to resources throughout the Library, as well as external websites, and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.


Light Horse transports crossing a river at Esdud, Israel during the First World War, 1914-1918

2nd Light Horse Association

Includes photograph albums, diaries and journals of Rev George Green, Dec 1914 - Aug 1915. One entry records the burial of John Simpson Kirkpatrick (Simpson and the donkey) at Gallipoli. Rev. Green enlisted in September 1914 and was commissioned as a Captain Chaplain. He served with the 1st Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli, and later at the Australian Corps. Reinforcement Camp at Caestre, France.

View the catalogue record:

OM77-14 2nd Light Horse Association Records 1914-1920 (Online content)

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2nd Light Horse photographs and diaries
silhouette of soldier

Allan, Robert Marshall

Dr Robert Marshall Allan was working at the outbreak of war at Rotunda Hospital, Dublin. He served with distinction in Kitchener's First Army at Aldershot, base hospitals in France on the Western Front, and in Mesopotamia and India where he was awarded the Military Cross. The papers comprise copies of typed letters originally written while Allan was serving during WWI. These letters continue on from others that were published in "Letters from a Young Queenslander".

View the catalogue record:

5687 Robert Marshall Allan Letters 1915-1918

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Digitised@SLQ - a doctor's perspective
Frederick William Annand

Annand, Frederick William

Papers of Frederick William Gadsby Annand who was Mayor of Hamilton from 1924 until Greater Brisbane was formed in 1925. Colonel Annand organised and commanded the 2nd Australian Pioneer Battalion. He was wounded in action in France in 1916, but returned to the field and was later awarded the DSO + Bar and Mentioned in Despatches four times. A collection of diaries is held at the Australian War Memorial.

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OM71-28 Frederick William Gadsby Annand Papers 1916-1943
Francis Leofric Armstrong

Armstrong, Francis Leofric

Lieutenant Francis (Frank) Armstrong a veteran of the Boer War, married his sweetheart Annie Mackay in June 1914, two months later he enlisted to serve with the 15th Infantry Battalion. Armstrong was killed when he led his men against the Turkish forces, 9th May 1915. He is buried where he died, at Quinn’s Post Cemetery, Gallipoli. His collection contains letters & photographs and a diary that relates to his brother-in-law Keith Mackay.

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M 1587 Frank Armstrong and Armstrong Family Papers Frederick William Gadsby Annand Papers 1916-1943.

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Those who didn't return, December 1915
silhouette of nurse

Avenell, Edith Florence "Queenie"

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from soldiers and their families, as well as Army Nurse Edith Florence "Queenie" Avenell who wrote about her experiences. Sister Avenell, born in Gympie was a hospital nurse in northern Queensland before she enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1915. She served in Egypt and France before returning to Australia in 1917.

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OM64-14 Canon David John Garland Papers 1911-1919 (Online content)
silhouette of soldier

Baker, Frederick Thomas

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from chaplains, nurses, soldiers and their families. Gunner Fred Baker, a carpenter, enlisted in November 1915 and served in France with 9th Field Artillery Brigade, 47th Battery. He was severely wounded in the left leg which was later amputated; he returned to Australia in 1918.

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OM64-14 Canon David John Garland Papers 1911-1919 (Online content)
silhouette of soldier

Baldwin, Allan

A considerable portion of this collection consists of letters received by W.A. Beacom from friends and relations serving during the First World War, in Europe and the Middle East. One, Allan Baldwin enlisted in January 1915 and served with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron as a signaller. He was awarded the DCM for 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty' during the battle at Musellabeh, Palestine in July 1918.

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OM71-19 William Andrew Beacom Papers 1903-1950
Harold Gilbert Barton

Barton, Harold Gilbert

The collection consists of two diaries; two soldiers pay books, a photographic postcard (presumed to be an image of Harold Barton) and transcription of the diaries. Harold enlisted in July 1915 and served with the 8th Infantry Battalion in France. He contracted mumps whilst in camp in Egypt in February 1916, was wounded in action July 1916. He returned to Australia in 1917.

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2974 Harold G Barton Papers 23 Nov 1915 - 27 Jul 1917
Arthur William Beach

Beach, Arthur William

A small collection of letters and typed transcriptions 1915-1919 from Pte J. A. Hobson, Arthur W. Beach, and Gordon Thomason. Gunner Arthur Beach [pictured] enlisted in the AIF in February 1916 and served with the 2nd Field Artillery, 21st Howitzer Battery, until his return to Australia in 1919. He was awarded the Military Medal in September 1918 for 'bravery in the field'.

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M 1325 Price and Burnett Family Papers
Edwin Beattie

Beattie, Edwin and George

Letters written by Edwin and George Beattie of Coomera. The brothers enlisted, embarked and served together in the 47th Battalion, 5th Reinforcements in the First World War. Edwin [pictured] died of pneumonia in 1916 at the Military Hospital, Sutton Veny; George was killed in action in France in 1918 and is remembered at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

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OM80-101 E K Beattie Letters
These two poppies represent that these two soldiers did not return
Thomas Beech

Beech, Albert and Thomas

The collection consists of correspondence, a diary, postcards and greeting cards, from two brothers of the Beech Family who served in the First World War. Both ambulance bearers before the war, Lieutenant Albert Edmund Beech served with the 3rd Field Ambulance Brigade as well as the 7th Infantry Battalion, in both Gallipoli and France. Sergeant Thomas Beech [pictured] served with the 3rd Field Ambulance Brigades in France from 1916 until 1918.

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3284 Beech Family Papers 1914-1919
silhouette of soldier

Bell, Bertram Charles (Bertie)

Personal papers of Bertram Charles Bell, whose family owned Coochin Coochin Station, near Boonah. Bertram Bell, took the first 'Queensland' motor ambulance to France in 1914, and served as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. Bell returned to England in 1915 to take flying lessons, was commissioned as a flight sub-lieutenant and flew with No.1, 3 and 10 Squadrons for the Royal Naval Air Service. He was awarded the DSO for 'conspicuous bravery and skill in attacking hostile aircraft'.

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M 780 Bell Family Papers 1865-1977
Archie Lindesay Black

Black, Archie Lindesay

Photographs, diaries and other items relating to Archie Black's service in the First World War. Archie was an overseer on Acacia Downs Station when he and his youngest brother Hugh, enlisted in the AIF in November 1915. He served as Battery Sergeant Major with the 9th and 14th Field Artillery Brigades in France and Belgium. He attended the Royal Field Artillery Officer School, and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1918.

View the catalogue record:

29518 Archie Lindesay Black Collection 1916-1919 (Online content)

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Diaries of Archie Black
John Spencer Booth

Booth, John Spencer

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from soldiers and their families. Private John Spencer Booth enlisted in November 1915 and served with the 7th Field Ambulance and 69th Infantry Battalion. He returned to Australia after demobilisation and later became a clergyman with the Anglican Church.

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OM64-14 Canon David John Garland Papers 1911-1919
James Dundee Bostock

Bostock, James Dundee

Private James Dundee Bostock, from Dulacca, Qld was an 18 year old farmer when he enlisted in 1914. This 1915 diary details his experiences with 9th Battalion, as the second man to go ashore at the Gallipoli landing. It records events from his voyage and the Gallipoli campaign and a letter to his wife, to be forwarded in the event of his death. He returned to Australia in May 1919.

View the catalogue record:

29785 James Dundee Bostock diary 1915 (Online content)

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1109 Private James Dundee diary
Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne

Bourne, Eleanor Elizabeth

Dr Eleanor Bourne was born and educated in Brisbane and was the first Queensland woman to study medicine. She served as a Lieutenant of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, and from 1920 until her retirement in 1937 was assistant medical officer to the city of Carlisle. Her brother George Herbert Bourne was Commanding Officer, 2nd Light Horse Regiment 1916-19 and served in Gallipoli and the Middle East.

View the catalogue records:

OM81-130 Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne Papers, OM81-131, OM81-132, OM82-15 (Online content)

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A female doctor's experience in wartime
George Herbert Bourne

Bourne, George Herbert

This is an extensive collection of letters, maps and realia from the First World War. Lieutenant Colonel Bourne was Commanding Officer, 2nd Light Horse Regiment, 1916-19. He served with the Regiment from May to September 1915 in Gallipoli, and was later deployed protecting the Nile Valley and Suez Canal. He won a DSO for 'conspicuous gallantry' during the Battle of Romani and subsequent engagements including the second Battle of Gaza. It includes several letters from his sister Dr Eleanor Bourne who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in England during the First World War.

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OM68-25 George Herbert Bourne Papers 1846-1956 (Online content)

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George Herbert Bourne, 2nd Light Horse Regiment
Lewis Charles Boyle

Boyle, Lewis Charles

Gunner Lewis Boyle, a farmer from Maryborough, served with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade in France and Belgium, from 1916 to 1919. Whilst on leave in England he married Scottish girl Jean. His collection consists of letters, photographs and cards sent to primarily to his grandmother in Hemel Hempstead. Lewis and Jean returned to Queensland in 1919, to farm in the Burnett River area, they had twelve children.

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29404 Dunbar and Boyle Family Correspondence
silhouette of soldier

Boyle, Robin Alexander

This is a collection of letters, photographs and cards principally sent by Lewis Boyle to his grandmother in Hemel Hempstead. His brother Robyn Boyle, although he did not serve with the AIF, was a trained chemist and was based in England, at the Avonmouth Gas Factory, working on mustard gas, during the First World War. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services.

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29404 Dunbar and Boyle Family Correspondence
Robert Cyril Palmer Brett

Brett, Robert Cyril Palmer

Cyril Brett was born on Beaufort Station, Central Queensland. His considerable collection includes photographs & diaries which record his service with the 25th Infantry Battalion in Gallipoli and France from 1915-1916. He was repatriated home unfit for active service and re-enlisted in 1918 where he continued to work with the Army in the Area Office, in Brisbane, Townsville & Warwick.

View the catalogue record:

M 946 Burley Family Records (Online content)

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Cyril Brett, 25th Battalion
George Henry Brigham

Brigham, George Henry

The diary of Private George Brigham is written in the form of letters to his family during his time in the First World War. It records events such as enlisting, his voyage, training in England, service in France and his journey home to Australia. George Brigham was a bookkeeper when he enlisted in April 1916; he served as a signaller for the 42nd and 41st Infantry Battalions and was wounded several times whilst serving in France. He returned to Australia in 1919 and married Christina Cunningham in 1922.

View the catalogue record:

OM90-88 George Henry Brigham Diary 1917-1918
silhouette of soldier

Brown, Thomas Victor

A collection that includes 5 letters written by Captain Thomas Brown who served with the 9th Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli and later as Major, with the ANZAC Provost Police, before resigning his commission in  England in 1917 after the death of his father John Hunter Brown.

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OM80-79 Thomas Brown Papers 1917-1918
Ronald cameron

Cameron, Herbert and Ronald

These family papers comprise letters written during the First World War, principally by brothers Ron and Herb Cameron, writing home to their mother and brothers. Private Herbert Cameron enlisted in October 1915 and served with the Australian Remount Unit in Egypt. Ronald [pictured] served with the 25th Infantry Battalion in France, and was killed in action in June 1918. He is remembered at Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

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3291 Cameron Family Papers 1909-1913; 1916-1918
silhouette of soldier

Cameron, Hugh and John

Hugh and John Cameron, just one year and 10 months apart in age, enlisted in the AIF October 1915 and served as gunners with the 9th Field Artillery Brigade in France until their return to Australia in 1919. The letters are from Hugh and his brother to his mother and family in Brisbane. They record Hugh Cameron's experiences during his service in France, leave in England and his experiences on his return to Australia.

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OM71-50A Hugh Nesbitt Cameron Letters 1912-1929
Alan Johnston Campbell

Campbell, Alan Johnston [variously spelt]

Transcripts of the diaries and letters of Sergeant Alan Campbell. The diaries describe his service with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, 3rd Reinforcements from his time in Enoggera Camp, embarkation, duties on board the Ifria, camp in Abassia, Gallipoli, Sinai and with the LH Field Ambulance in Cairo. He returned to Australia having been seriously wounded in the eye, to become the founding president of the Australian Woolgrowers' Association. Transcripts of his diaries are also held at the Australian War Memorial.

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M 299 Alan Campbell Diaries
silhouette of soldier

Campbell, Gordon

A small collection of copied letters written by Gordon Campbell to his brother Jim, while on board HMAS Swan and HMAS Encounter.

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OM90-05 Campbell Family Letters
Frank Chenery

Chenery, Frank

The collection contains letters written by Frank Chenery to his family, while on active service during the First World War. Private Frank Chenery from Toowong, enlisted in September 1916 and served with the 26th Infantry Battalion in France. He was severely wounded in the shoulder and repatriated home, just as the armistice for peace was declared in November 1918.

View the catalogue record:

30054 Frank Chenery papers 1916-1919

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Private Frank Chenery, 26th Battalion
silhouette of soldier

Cochran, Samuel Fogo

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from soldiers and their families. Corporal Samuel Cochran enlisted when he was 18 years old in 1917 and served with the 4th Railway Section, in England and France. He returned to Australia in 1919 and went on to become Chairman of the State Electricity Commission of Queensland.

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OM64-14 Canon David John Garland Papers 1911-1919
silhouette of soldier

Collum, Jack Athelstan

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from soldiers and their families. Captain Jack Collum had served with the ANMEF in New Guinea before enlisting in February 1916. He was attached to the 3rd Divisional Train and served in England and France, training at the Veterinary School in Calais, as well as with the 3rd Divisional Salvage operations.

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OM71-51 Canon David John Garland Papers 1915-1919 (online content)
silhouette of soldier

Creedon, Daniel Bartholemew

Typescript copy of a diary by Daniel (Bart) Creedon of Maryborough giving details of life in the trenches and treatment of POWs by the Turks. Private Creedon enlisted in August 1914 aged 22, and fought on Gallipoli with the 9th Battalion, until June 1915 when he was taken prisoner of war. He died whilst still captive in Angora, Turkey in 1917. He is buried in the Baghdad War Cemetery, Iraq. The original diaries are held at the Australian War Memorial.

View the catalogue record:

OM90-138 D.B. Creedon Diary 1915 (Online content)

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In the hands of the Turks

This poppy represents that this soldier did not return

Bernard Allanson Cripps

Cripps, Bernard Allanson

This collection of diaries and roll book were kept by Lieutenant B. A. Cripps. Born in 1894 he was mobilised in August 1914 and saw service in Papua and German New Guinea. He enlisted in the AIF in September 1915 and served in France in 1916 with the 41st Infantry Battalion. He received a commission in the field in August 1917 and was wounded at Passchendaele in October 1917.

View the catalogue record:

OM71-49 Bernard Allanson Cripps Papers (Online content)
David Gifford Croll

Croll, David Gifford

Papers, diaries, photographs and notebooks kept by Doctor D. G. Croll while serving in the First World War. Colonel David Croll was Commanding Officer of the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance and later Assistant-Director of Medical Services for the Anzac Mounted Division. He served in Gallipoli and the Middle East before returning to Australia in 1919. He was Mentioned in Despatches twice and awarded the CBE for his invaluable services in the Middle East.

View the catalogue record:

OM78-70 David Gifford Croll Papers (Online content)

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Colonel David Gifford Croll: 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance
silhouette of soldier

Crommelin, Trevellyn

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from soldiers and their families. Trevellyn Crommelin served with the 14th Light Horse Regiment (1st Camel Brigade) in the Middle East until he returned to Australia in 1919. He later joined the N & ME Forces and served in New Guinea for two years, where he died in 1923.

View the catalogue record:

OM71-51 Canon David John Garland Papers 1915-1919
Charles Culverhouse

Culverhouse, Frederick and Charles

A collection that includes the reminiscences of Private Frederick Culverhouse of his experiences during the First World War, entitled 'Three Black Lights'. Fred and his twin brother Charles[pictured] enlisted together in September 1916, aged 31. Both carpenters, they were assigned to the 52nd Infantry Battalion and embarked in October 1916. Fred was severely wounded in France in August 1918; Charles was evacuated medically unfit with dysentery in April of the same year.

View the catalogue record:

OM64-31/7 F V Culverhouse Papers (Online content)
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