Brisbane Grammar School Soldier Portraits Digitised @SLQ
A beautifully bound leather book held in the collection of the John Oxley Library is the Annals of the Brisbane Grammar School 1869-1922, compiled by Stuart Stephenson, and published by the Government Printer, Brisbane, in 1923. Apart from providing a comprehensive history of this important Queensland school, the publication also contains significant World War I content, including a series of photographic portraits of all but three of the 176 former students who were killed during the war.
The young soldier above is Lieutenant Joseph William Costin from Paddington. He enlisted on the 21st August 1914 at the age of 23 and served in the 9th Battalion Machine Gun Section. His trade of electrical engineer came in handy at the front and he invented an apparatus for cooling the machine gun whilst in action. His was the first Australian machine gun to be set up at Gallipoli. Costin was killed in action on the first day of the landing, 25th April 1915. According to the narrative 137 old boys took part in the Gallipoli campaign and 28 of those fell in the conflict.
Chapter VI is entitled The School And The War and provides a detailed account of the involvement of the school's old boys in both the South African War and World War I. In September 1914 when the first volunteers left Queensland for the front, there were over fifty past students amongst their number. A comprehensive list is included of the 1020 former students who enlisted in the Great War, with the names of those who lost their lives printed in heavier type. Also included is a list of the over 160 military distinctions which were awarded and the 72 old boys who were mentioned in despatches.
Following this narrative are the haunting portraits of the old boys who made the ultimate sacrifice. Some of the faces staring out from the pages look remarkably young, as though they should have still been at school instead of facing the horrors of the trenches.
Bombardier Walter Henry Cunningham of the 5th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, died of wounds in Belgium, 6 August 1917. Plate LI.
As a lasting tribute to the sacrifice made by the brave old boys who served, the War Memorial Library, in the grounds of the school, was opened on Armistice Day 1924 by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Matthew Nathan. The building was designed by architect, John Barr, who had won a competition amongst former students and subscribers to the War Memorial Fund. Barr, who had entered the school in 1887, was a prominent architect who had designed many of the buildings at Sydney University whilst working in the New South Wales Government Architects' Office. His beautiful design for the building is below:
Annals of the Brisbane Grammar School 1869-1922 may be viewed at the John Oxley Library or online at: http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:JOL:slq_alma21134701860002061
Lynn Meyers, QANZAC100 Content Curator