Remembrance Day 2010

Today the people of Commonwealth countries remember the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces and citizens during times of war. Remembrance Day marks the official end of hostilities of WWI at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of Armistice.

Libraries and archives play an important role in helping societies remember their past. As one of Australia's key memory institutions the John Oxley Library holds an interesting array of materials documenting the contributions and sacrifices made by Queenslanders in times of war.

Sir John Goodwin unveiling the Anzac Memorial Tablet, Brisbane, 11 November 1930. Image number APU-16-0001-0019.

The collection includes photographs of soldiers at war and citizens on the home front. There are posters, newspapers, and a broad range of ephemeral items such as ration coupons and memorial service cards from the first ANZAC Day ceremonies in 1916 onwards and the first Remembrance Day ceremonies to the present.

The library also holds a good selection of Army regimental histories that have Queensland connections, as well as Airforce squadron and Naval histories.  The collection strengths are in pre-federation volunteer forces (Queensland Defence Forces), South African War (Boer War), World War I and World War II publications as well as original letters, diaries, medals, and photographs.

Portrait of Charles Rowland Williams DFC.

Portrait of Charles Rowland Williams DFC.

One collection currently on display in the John Oxley Library Reading Room is OM95-10: The Charles Rowland Williams Papers. Charles Roland Williams was born in 1909 at Torrens Creek, Queensland. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941 and commenced training on 3 Feb 1941. He left for England on 16 Oct of the same year. He commenced as a Pilot Officer in No. 61 Squadron on 22 Sep 1941 and as a Flying Officer in No. 617 Squadron on 22 Mar 1942.

C.R. Williams was Wireless Operator in the crew of the Lancaster Bomber, E for Edward, when it crashed during a bombing raid on the Mohne Dam in Germany on 16 May 1943. He was to have been married the following week to Gwendoline (Bobbie) Parfitt, a secretary at NAAFI in Nottingham, England. C.R. Williams was survived by his brother, Douglas, three years his senior; his younger sister, Sheila; and his mother, Catherine Helene Hedwige Williams.

In a handwritten notebook kept by Bobbie Parfitt that forms part of the Charles Roland Williams Papers she writes, "To all who read this book may they say proudly and with humility...'To Bomber Command'. May they find the courage that I have found inasmuch as these men were my friends and Flying Officer C.R. Williams, DFC and Bar, who had asked me to become his wife on that fateful May of 1943. To the end of my life I shall never forget them." G. Parfitt.

For more detailed information on this and other collections have a look on our Onesearch catalogue using search terms such as Charles Roland Williams, War Memorials, and Remembrance Day.

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Does any one know what happened to Bobby Parfitt? She must have been devistated. Poor girl.