The diaries of Gunner James Toohey, a World War I soldier from Queensland who fought in France and Belgium, have now been digitized and are available through our catalogue.
James Toohey, a young soldier from South Brisbane, enlisted in 1915 with the Field Artillery Brigade 3, Reinforcements 14. The two small diaries cover the period January 1916 to September 1917, describing the voyage from Australia to Egypt on board the RMS Osterley and active service on the front lines in France and Belgium. Toohey distinguished himself during the war and won the Military Medal for bravery during a battle near Merris in Northern France in June 1918. He survived the conflict, returning to Australia in April 1919.
After returning to Australia James married Norah Burke on the 14th June 1924 at St. James Catholic Church, Coorparoo. They had ten children.
James had started work as a messenger boy for the Postmaster General’s Department in 1910 before progressing to being a telephonist. After being gassed during the war he returned to the department but requested an outdoor job, delivering mail in the Greenslopes and Coorparoo areas of Brisbane. He retired after thirty years as a postman at the age of sixty and moved to a fifteen acre property at Mt. Gravatt, before his death in 1964.
The James Toohey Collection is available at the John Oxley Library, Accession no: 28848, Box 17209. The digitized diaries may be viewed via One Search
Transcripts of the diaries are also available.
Lynn Meyers – Original Materials Librarian, State Library of Queensland