SLQ'S VERY OWN ANZAC

In 1914, before it was the State Library of Queensland that we all know and love, it was the Public Library of Queensland. The Library continued to operate after the outbreak of WW1, with the reams of information it housed becoming useful in new ways.

Being a sub department attached to the public service, the library was a conduit for communications between government agencies about the war effort and contentious issues like the conscription debate. The Library provided the Public Service Board with a list of those either called up or enlisted in the Australian Expeditionary Force; and in 1916 the skills of 40 library clerks were requested by the Recruiting Sub-Committee at their rooms in the Kodak Building, Queen Street.

Subtle enquiries about the number of library staff eligible for service followed. Of its 5 eligible staff, one enlisted and served – William Miles, library assistant.

28 year old Private W. Miles enlisted in 1916 and spent 3 years 7 months on active service. He was a 7th Field Ambulance Officer in France and his military service records reveal he was awarded the 1914/1915 Star Medal, British War Medal and Victory Medal (awarded as a set of 3). We also know he disappeared from his billet one night in January 1919 and turned himself in 9 hours later; his disobedience punished with a loss of one month’s wages.

Caption: Enlistment papers of William Miles. Under 'What is your Trade or Calling?' Miles answered, 'Librarian'. Source: National Archives of Australia.

Caption: Enlistment papers of William Miles. Under 'What is your Trade or Calling?' Miles answered, 'Librarian'. Source: National Archives of Australia.

He returned to Australia aboard the S.S Konigin Luise and was discharged in September 1919. We have one photo of William Miles and other library staff dated ca. 1925, which tells us he returned to the Public Library of Queensland, but what else William Miles achieved during his life is so far unknown. Much like his 9 hour disappearance during his service, William Miles seemingly disappeared from the annals until the registering of his death in 1974, aged 86 years.

 

Caption: Staff of the Public Library of Queensland, ca. 1925. William Miles is pictured on the far left. Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, JOL 77-10-7.

Caption: Staff of the Public Library of Queensland, ca. 1925. William Miles is pictured on the far left. Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, JOL 77-10-7.

However, his legacy exists not only as an Anzac, but as an early member of a vital aspect of Queensland culture, the State Library.

If you have any information about William Miles, we’d like to hear from you. If you have something you’d like to add to our collection, even better!

See more of how SLQ is commemorating WW1 and Queensland Anzacs at QANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation.

Source: Schweinsberg, Valerie Ann. The State Library of Queensland : Its Origins, Personalities and Reasons for Its Late Development. Armidale: U of New England, 1995. Print. http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:slq_alma21111359860002061

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