During the First World War over 57,000 Queensland men and women served between 1914-1918.

On 3 September 1939, Australia entered the Second World War, sending just under one million men and women into battle, between 1939 - 1945, this time experiencing conflict in Northern Australia, the Torres Strait and North Queensland.

In recent decades, Queensland's sons and daughters have served in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and Papua New Guinea, including peace-keeping service in East Timor. 

Explore the collections housed in the John Oxley Library, search the resources compiled during the First World War commemoration and learn more about the impact of war on the people of Queensland and the Homefront.

Brisbane soldiers from the 2nd Calvary Regiment patrolling the East Timorese enclave of Oecuss in West Timor 2000

The digital photographs in this collection include pictures of Australia's Federation Guard, World War II veterans, and military portraits of Troy’s father and grandfather who were both from Queensland.

During his service, Troy served in Papua New Guinea (1997-1998), Bougainville Island (1999), East Timor (1999), Afghanistan (2002) and Iraq (2005). He served initially as a Queensland reservist in the 25th Battalion then enlisted into the Regular Army as an Infantryman with the 6th Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR) in 1990.

After six years he transferred into Army Public Relations as a photographer where he completed 16 years in the regular Army and discharging in Townsville. [Acc 31926]

F-111 Strike aircraft on a training run over the ocean Queensland 1989

The 51 digital copies of photographs by award winning military photographer Malcolm (Mal) Lancaster record his military service with the Royal Australian Navy (1959-1969) and as a civilian with the Office of Air Force and Defence Public Affairs (1969-2000).

During the Vietnam conflict, Mal’s images and film footage were seen in Australian homes for the first time. He also captured the moment F-111 aircraft arrived in Brisbane, the coronation of the King of Tonga and the 1982 journey of lone British rower Peter Bird on his epic journey from the US to Australia. Newspaper clippings summarise Mal’s contribution to recording this history through photography. [Acc 31655]

2nd Lieutenant John Castles of H Battery 2nd Battalion 94thCA AA was stationed in Queensland with other members of his Battalion

This collection of 460 original photographs, mostly identified, records the entire wartime service of 2nd Lieutenant John Thomas Castles of H. Battery, 2nd Battalion, 94th CA (AA), United States Army.

He refers to views of 'Doombon' (Doomben) 'Archer Field' (Archerfield) and Lennons Hotel in Brisbane; kangaroo hunting and a property on the Reid River where the U.S Army Air Force established an airfield. Townsville and Magnetic Island are represented and over 100 photographs of Horn Island in the Torres Strait where he was stationed. [Acc 28220]

Members of AWAS march in formation in front of the Duhig Building University of Queensland St Lucia Campus Brisbane

The Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) was formed in 1941 with the approval of Sir Percy Spender, Australia's Minister for the Army. The Women's Australian National Service (WANS) had previously demonstrated that women were capable of filling roles traditionally filled by men.

The objective of AWAS was to release more men for active service by employing women in roles such as first aid, signalling and mechanics. The AWAS was demobilised by 30 June 1947. [Acc 3336]

Significant WWI Collections

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Sir Thomas William Glasgow (1876-1955) was the highest ranking Queenslander to serve in World War 1. This extensive collection includes postcards, photographs, maps and almost 1,000 letters which Glasgow wrote to his wife Belle and two young daughters during his wartime service. [Acc 29571]

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Constance Keys (1886-1964) was one of the first four Queensland nurses to embark for the First World War in September 1914. She was one of Australia’s most decorated nurses, and one of many important women in World War 1. [Acc 30674]

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Maurice Delpratt was born in Tambourine, Queensland and attended The Southport School as a student then housemaster. He was an overseer at a large sheep station near Longreach before enlisting in World War 1 in 1914. [Acc 28115]

Recent blogs

Medals ribbons and miniatures awarded to Joe Lang and his brother Captain William Lang

Between the WWI and WWII Joe Lang was employed as an engineer during the construction of the Story Bridge in Brisbane, however at the outbreak of the Second World War he re-enlisted with the rank of Major with the 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion. 

Procession aftermath in Brisbane During World War Two

Victory in Europe Day was declared on 8 May in 1945. Celebrations in Australia were more muted as fighting in the Pacific continued until August.  Anzac Square was described as ablaze with floodlights attracting an estimated 10,000 people.

Two of four photograph albums recently acquired by State Library of Queensland belonging to Lt Patrick McHughMcHugh

The four albums documenting Patrick McHugh's service include interesting captions and images of Australian troops. Born in Atherton, Queensland, on 5 August 1916, he enlisted for World War II service in Townsville on 27 March 1941.

Research uncovered

From 2014 – 2018 and as part of the commemoration of the First World War and the QANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation program, 16 Fellowships were awarded to recipients inviting research into the collections of the John Oxley Library.  

Learn more about the projects and listen to the Fellows talk about the Queensland experience of war, the Homefront and service.

Digital stories – World War II and Homefront

Crime, passion and opportunity - Policing Brisbane during World War Two
Dr Judith Powell

General MacArthur called Brisbane the most corrupt place in the South Pacific. During WWII over a million soldiers passed through what had until then been a small town. For the young it was an exciting time, but crime flourished.

The Unfinished War: The Post-war lives of returned soldiers who spent time in the Inebriate Institution, Dunwich
Lisa Jackson

An in-depth, detailed study into the lives of the returned First World War soldiers whose alcoholism led them to be admitted to the Inebriate Institution in Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island.

Put out into the deep
Elaine Ackworth

In 1942 the women of the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) intercepted, deciphered and decoded, encrypted Japanese military messages, providing vital intelligence to the Australian war effort. Through this research Elaine produced an audio theatre work.

Victory in the Pacific

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Pacific. Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day commemorates Japan’s acceptance of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender, effectively putting an end to World War II and six years of global devastation.

This year, we look back on the decades of commemorations, cavalcades and camaraderie underpinning the Queensland war experience and recognise those who bravely served our nation.

View the Victory in the Pacific images online and add your memories and stories about this time in the Queensland story.

Anzac Square and Memorial Galleries

The place Queenslanders can experience the quiet solitude of Queensland’s Shrine of Remembrance, the state’s pre-eminent war memorial, and gain a greater understanding of Australia’s military past.

First World War resources

Q ANZAC 100 historypin

Discover and share World War 1 stories in Queensland. Nearly 4,000 pins are a visual record of the people, places and commemoration. Each one is a legacy for future generations.

Aboriginal soldiers were photographed with the 1st reinforcement to Egypt

Discover the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who served in World War 1, both overseas and at home in Queensland.

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Since 2014, annual symposia have explored the impact of the First World War on Queenslanders and Queensland life. View expert presentations and panel discussions which re-examine our understanding of the Anzac legacy.

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Explore key moments and unique stories of Queensland’s World War 1 years through this interactive portal.

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57,705 Queenslanders enlisted in the First World War. These resources will help you find the names of Australian soldiers who fought in World War 1. 

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State Library has digitised over 30,000 soldier portraits of Queensland soldiers published during the First World War.