Digitised@SLQ: Eric Kingsford-Smith letter

One of the exciting aims of State Library’s QANZAC100: memories for a new generation project is to identify and digitise 100 First World War collections from all over Queensland. Recently, we digitised the 30147 Eric Kingsford-Smith Letter 1914. This beautiful 5-page letter, written by Eric Kingsford-Smith, Assistant Paymaster on the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney, was kindly lent to us for scanning by the Army Museum South Queensland, and while a digital copy is now part of State Library’s collection, the physical copy remains an important item in the Museum’s collection at Victoria Barracks in Brisbane.

Eric Kingsford-Smith's letter, 1914

Eric Kingsford-Smith's letter, 1914

The letter records a very significant moment in Australia's First World War history. In it, Kingsford-Smith describes the HMAS Sydney's encounter with the German cruiser Emden and the subsequent battle and sinking of the Emden on 9 November 1914.

HMAS Sydney

HMAS Sydney

Eric Kingsford-Smith (1887-1968) was born in Brisbane, Queensland. He worked in Canada as an accountant (1903-07), then joined the merchant navy as a Purser. On 26 August 1912 he joined the Royal Australian Navy and was appointed an Assistant Paymaster, and served on HMAS Encounter, then HMAS Gayundah, and HMAS Sydney from January 1914-March 1917. From 1917-1927, Kingsford-Smith served on the Naval Depot Ship HMAS Penguin, and the Destroyer Depot and Fleet Repair Ship HMAS Platypus, promoted to Paymaster Lieutenant Commander in August 1921. Retired in 1927, he pursued a career as an accountant in Sydney. From 1939-46, Kingsford-Smith returned to Naval service, posted as the Base Accounts Officer of the Sydney Naval Depot (HMAS Penguin) and a variety of other postings in the Pacific Theatre. 

Artillery gun on the battle cruiser HMAS Sydney

Artillery gun on the battle cruiser HMAS Sydney

State Library is grateful to the Army Museum South Queensland for sharing this resource so together we can make it accessible to everyone. Newly digitised content can be found throughout this blog by looking for digitisation tags and Digitised@SLQ headings. More content is available through State Library’s catalogue One Search.

Robyn Hamilton – QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland

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