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

S – Z

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.


Robert Salisbury

Salisbury, Robert

The collection includes material kept by Private Robert Salisbury of the 25th Infantry Battalion, during his service in World War I, including a diary. Robert was wounded in action in Belgium on the 4 October 1917 with shrapnel wounds to both legs, and after being transferred to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, died the same day.  He is buried at the Menin Road South Military Cemetery, Belgium.

View the catalogue record:

30015 Salisbury and Rowton Family Papers (online content)

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Salisbury and Rowton Family Papers
Verdi Schwinghammer

Schwinghammer, Verdi George

Typescript narrative, by Verdi G. Schwinghammer, who served with the 42nd Infantry Battalion during the First World War. Compiled from Schwinghammer's personal diary the narrative details his service from his enlistment to his discharge from the Army as 'medically unfit' on 26 September, 1919. There is a collection of his papers also held at the Australian War Memorial as well as letters in the Canon Garland Collection held at SLQ.

View the catalogue record:

M 855 Verdi Schwinghammer Papers 1916-1919 and OM71-51 Canon David John Garland Papers 1915-1918 (Online content)
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Skerman, Andrew Hay

Includes correspondence from Corporal Andrew Hay Skerman while serving in the First World War as a soldier in France. Andrew Skerman was a farmer from Warwick, when he enlisted aged 20 in August 1915 to serve with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade as a driver, then bombardier. His brother Alan Chesher Skerman served with the 9th Infantry Battalion. Alan was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field, however four months later died of wounds received in Belgium.

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29404 Dunbar and Boyle Family Correspondence 1878-1921
Francis Ryan Smith

Smith, Francis Ryan

Copy of a report sent to the Commanding Officer, 2nd Australian Flying Corps AIF on three days spent behind the German lines. Francis Smith enlisted in the AIF aged 19 in July 1915. He served with the 31st Infantry Battalion and was wounded in the foot at Armentieres, France in October 1916; he was awarded the Military Cross for 'conspicuous gallantry' in action. In 1917 he transferred to the Australian Flying Corps. having graduated as a pilot from the Military Aeronautics School. He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in October 1918.

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OM64-31/5 Francis Ryan Smith Report 13 Nov 1918 (Online content)
Francis Henry Staunton

Staunton, Francis Henry

The Staunton family papers include photographs, letters, postcards and medals, mostly from Private Francis Henry Staunton. Staunton enlisted in 1914 aged 28 and served with D Company, 25th Infantry Battalion. He was killed whilst serving in France, July 1916 and is remembered at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.

View the catalogue record:

OM72-90 Staunton Family Papers 1892-1917 Box 8833; 1978-1980 (Online content)

This poppy represents that this soldier did not return

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Stewart, Edmund Douglas

Copy of a diary kept by Private E.D. Stewart on the troop ship Boonah from Brisbane to Plymouth. Edmund Stewart was a bank manager from Ipswich, when he enlisted, age 42 in June 1916. He served with the 26th Battalion in France. He was repatriated to Australia in 1918 after being seriously wounded in action.

View the catalogue record:

OM81-79 Stewart, Edmond Douglas Diary 1916-1917 (Online content)
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Stodart, Robert Mackay

Australian Imperial Force Confidential War Diary of Lieutenant Colonel R.M. Stodart, 2nd Light Horse Regiment, detailing the movements of the regiment and battles fought.

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OM77-14 2nd Light Horse Association Records (Online content)
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Stuart, Peter Fitzalan MacDonald

Photocopy of a diary written by Peter Fitzalan MacDonald Stuart during the First World War. It includes his service at Gallipoli with the 9th Battalion. He later served with the 49th Battalion in France where he was killed by a German sniper in the battle of Mouquet Farm, 4 September 1916. Lieutenant Stuart is buried at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

View the catalogue record:

M 493: Peter F D Stuart Diary (Online content)

This poppy represents that this soldier did not return

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Tarrant, George William

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, who wrote about their experiences. George Tarrant enlisted in the AIF in April 1916, when he was 21 and served in France with the 25th and 26th Battalions. He was evacuated to hospital having been gassed in 1917, but returned to fight with his unit until demobilisation in Australia in 1920.

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OM64-14 Canon David John Garland Papers 1911-1919
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Tarrant, John (Jack) George

Jack Tarrant from Rockhampton was 32 years old when he enlisted in the AIF. He had already served with the Imperial Light Horse in South Africa and went on to serve as a driver with the 1st Australian Divisional Train in Gallipoli, Egypt, France and Belgium during the First World War. He was awarded the Military Medal 'for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty under heavy fire' in 1917 at Ypres. This collection of correspondence was written while serving in Egypt, Gallipoli, France and Belgium.

View the catalogue record:

27316 John (Jack) George Tarrant correspondence 1914-1918
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Thomason, George Kingsley

A small collection consisting of a soldier's pay book, one photograph, a letter, and a calling card belonging to his mother Mrs Burnett. Private George Thomason, a dairy farmer from Wellington Point, enlisted age 21, in February 1916. He served with the 25th Infantry Battalion and later with the 9th Field Artillery Brigade and 1st Division Ammunition Column. He returned to Australia in 1919 at the end of hostilities.

View the catalogue record:

OM90-76 George Kinsley Thomason Papers 1916
Joseph Cecil Thompson

Thompson, Joseph Cecil

Photographs, diary, correspondence and a medal belonging to Joseph Thompson relating to his service in the First World War. The diary is from Gallipoli. Sergeant Joseph Cecil Thompson #494 was a farrier from Childers who served with the 9th Battalion as a stretcher bearer, in Gallipoli and later in France and Belgium.

View the catalogue record:

29506 Joseph Cecil Thompson collection 1914-1918 (Online content)

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Joseph Cecil Thompson collection
Frederick William Toll

Toll, Frederick William

A collection of maps and documents relating to the First World War in France and Egypt. It includes a map of the Duntroon Plateau trench system constructed and held by the 5th Australian Division in 1915 and 1916. Frederick Toll served in South Africa from 1899-1902 and led the 3rd Battalion in New Guinea in 1915. He commanded the 31st Infantry Battalion, in the Middle East and in France. Toll was awarded the DSO and Bar, as well as being Mentioned in Despatches.

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OM70-43 Colonel Frederick William Toll Papers
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Tomkins, Charles Warren

Canon Garland was senior army camp chaplain at Enoggera during the First World War. Included in his collection are letters to and from Army Chaplains who wrote about their experiences. Chaplain Captain C. Warren Tomkins enlisted in the AACD in September 1915. He was Senior Chaplain AIF Headquarters, and later he was attached to the 14th Australian General Hospital. He returned to Australia in 1918.

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OM71-51 Canon David John Garland Papers 1915-1918 (Online content)
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Tompson, Reginald Knox

A collection of books, newspaper clippings, and magazines associated with World Wars I and II. Gunner Reginald Tompson was a clerk when he enlisted in in February 1916. He served as a driver with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade in France, and later Belgium. Before he returned home he served with the Australian Army Pay Corps in London. He was discharged in Brisbane on the 2nd October 1919.

View the catalogue record:

6381 Reginald Knox Tompson Papers and Photographs 1916-1962
James Toohey

Toohey, James

This collection of diaries and other items of Gunner James Toohey of 1st Field Artillery Brigade were kept while serving in France and Belgium. James Toohey was a telephonist, from South Brisbane when he joined in 1915 aged 19. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery for his actions on the 28th June 1918 near Merris in Northern France. During a heavy artillery barrage he kept the lines of communication open between the forward observation posts and Battalion Headquarters for over three hours, assisting in the success of the operation.

View the catalogue record:

28848: James Toohey Diaries 1916-1918 (Online content)
Edgar Towner

Towner, Edgar Thomas

A significant collection of personal correspondence from Edgar Towner to his family in Blackall, during his time overseas in WW1. Born in Blackall, Lieutenant Edgar Thomas Towner, VC, MC, enlisted in the AIF in 1915, and was posted to the transport section of 25th Infantry Battalion. He served in Egypt and the Western Front, with the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion. Towner was awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty" at Mont St. Quentin. He was also awarded the Military Cross in 1918 and Mentioned in Despatches twice.

View the catalogue record:

30576 Edgar Thomas Towner letters (New acquisition)
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Treacy, Thomas Francis

The personal diary of Thomas Francis Treacy kept during the First World War. It records his journey from Cairns 29th January 1916 to Europe and details action in the war to the last entry 16 January 1919. Private Treacy enlisted aged 25 in January 1916. He served with the 15th Field Ambulance Brigade in France. He was admitted to hospital with gas poisoning in April 1918 before returning to his unit where he remained until returning to Australia in 1919.

View the catalogue record:

R 1562 Thomas Francis Treacy diary 1916-1919

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Private Treacy
Frank Henry Verrall

Verrall, Frank Henry

This extensive family collection includes photographs, awards, certificates, postcards, maps, correspondence and two scrapbooks, relating to Frank Verrall's service in the AIF during the First World War. Private Verrall was a 'condiment maker' when he enlisted in 1916 aged 25. He served in the 47th and 45th Infantry Battalions in France. He was wounded in action in June 1917 at Messines and was also awarded the Military Medal for 'bravery in the field' in 1918.

View the catalogue record:

29101 Frank Henry Verrall Scrapbook 1891-1981
Robert Cyril Vickers

Vickers, Robert Cyril

A collection of over 100 photographs and postcards taken in the Middle East during the First World War, many of them captioned. Private Robert Vickers, aged 20 was a butcher from Rockhampton when he enlisted in the AIF in August 1915. He served as a driver with the 1st Light Horse Brigade Train in the Middle East. He returned to Australia at the end of the war in 1919. He married in 1924 and lived in Brisbane until his death in 1961.

View the catalogue record:

29385 Robert Cyril Vickers Photographs 1915-1915 (Online content)

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Robert Cyril Vickers Collection
silhouette of soldier

Wasley, David Edwin

A small collection of letters from David Wasley to the McDonald sisters, Brisbane. Private Wasley, born in England,  was working as a station hand at Oakey, before he enlisted in the AIF in February 1915. Assigned to the 5th Light Horse Regiment, he served in Gallipoli and the Middle East. At the end of the war he was given permission to remain in England, where his widowed mother resided.

View the catalogue record:

29780 McDonald Family Collection (Online content)
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Wheat, John Harrison

This collection consists of a typed manuscript dedicated to the crew of the AE1 – Australia's first submarine to go under fire, and an account of Wheat's experiences as a prisoner of war. Able Seaman Wheat was a submariner on the AE2, he was taken prisoner by the Turks in 1915 when it was sunk in the Sea of Marmora. He worked on the Baghdad Railway and twice attempted to escape. He was repatriated to England as part of a prisoner exchange in November 1918.

View the catalogue record:

OM64-31/2 John Harrison Wheat Papers (Online content)

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Diary of a submariner
James Wheeler

Wheeler, James Corrie

Handwritten reminiscences of personal experiences of Gallipoli during the First World War. Lance Corporal Wheeler was a 24 year old miner, when he enlisted in January 1915. He served with the 15th Infantry Battalion in Gallipoli where he was wounded and later in France. There he was wounded several times before being taken prisoner in 1917 at Rensecourt, by German forces and detained at Schneidem├╝hl until he was repatriated to England in December 1918.

View the catalogue record:

M1437 James C Wheeler Papers
Annie Margaret Wheeler

Wheeler, Annie Margaret

A collection of letters sent and received by Annie Wheeler, who during the Frist World War, endeavoured to contact all soldiers from central Queensland. Included is a detailed card index (3 boxes) on them. Each week letters were published in the Capricornian and the Morning Bulletin.

View the catalogue record:

OM82-67 Mrs H G Wheeler Correspondence (Online content)
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Wilkinson, Bert

Letter from Bert Wilkinson to his sister Winnie. Private Wilkinson from Mount Morgan enlisted in February 1916, aged 19, and served with the 42nd Infantry Battalion in Ypres, France under "the worst possible conditions". He was evacuated to England with trench foot and returned to his unit to fight in Amiens where he was severely wounded. He died of his wounds 20 August 1918 and is buried at the Mont Huon Cemetery Le Treport, France.

View the catalogue record:

OM90-93 Bert Wilkinson Letter 1916 (Online content)

This poppy represents that this soldier did not return

Victor Owen Williams

Williams, Victor Owen

Personal papers including two diaries, wartime ephemera, photographs, negatives and postcards, collected and maintained by Victor Owen Williams during his service in the First World War. Private Victor Williams from Crows Nest, Queensland enlisted in the AIF in 1917 aged 18. He served in the 47th & 45th Infantry Battalions in France, where he was wounded, in both hands during the 2nd Battle of Dernancourt. As part of Australia's demobilisation effort, Victor studied wool classing in France and England, before he left England for Australia on 19 August 1919.

View the catalogue record:

28939 Victor Owen Williams First World War Diaries, Photographs and Personal Papers 1917-1919 (Online content)

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Digitised@SLQ: Victor Owen Williams Collection

Willmore, Henrietta

Henrietta Willmore, a musician and music teacher was a founding member of the Brisbane Women's Club, president of the Queensland Women's Electoral League's Toowong branch and, during World War I, of the Belgian Relief Fund for which she was awarded the Queen Elisabeth Medal.

View the catalogue record:

OM65-40 Mrs Henrietta Willmore Queen Elisabeth Medal 1920 (Online content)

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Union makes strength
Lachlan Chisholm Wilson

Wilson, Lachlan Chisholm

Born at Logan River, Queensland, Brigadier-General Wilson had fought in the South African War before joining the AIF as a major in September 1914. He was second in command of the 5th Light Horse Regiment when they landed at Gallipoli in May 1915. He took part in major engagements such as the Battle of Romani and the capture of Damascus. He was appointed C.B. & C.M.G., awarded the DSO, the French Croix de Guerre and Mentioned in Despatches six times.

View the catalogue record:

OM75-92 Lachlan Chisholm Wilson Papers 1914-1919 (Online content)

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Brigadier General Lachlan Chisholm Wilson
W. Maitland Woods

Woods, W. Maitland

Correspondence of approximately 55 letters between Canon Garland in Brisbane and Rev Maitland Woods, Army Chaplain with the AIF during the First World War. Rev Woods' letters are from various battlefields including the Middle East and Egypt, France, and Gallipoli. Reverend W. Maitland Woods was rector of St Mary's Anglican Church, Kangaroo Point, 1903-1919. A bell, belfry and inscribed tablet to his memory were unveiled at St Mary's in 1928.

View the catalogue record:

OM74-101 Maitland Woods Papers 1915-1916 (Online content)

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Reverend William Maitland Woods – Army Chaplain A.I.F.
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Young, David

Private David Young was born in Scotland and emigrated to Brisbane in 1909, where he was reunited with family members. After having worked in the pastoral industry, he enlisted with the 49th Infantry Battalion and accompanied the 41st Battalion on active service in France where he was killed in action on 28 April 1918. He is remembered at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

View the catalogue record:

TR 1777 David Young Papers ca. 1912-1985
This poppy represents that this soldier did not return
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