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 around Queensland. We have recently digitised the diary of 9th Battalion soldier James Dundee Bostock, in which he records the landing at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. While the digital copy is now part of State Library’s collection, the original physical copy belongs in the collection of the 9th Battalions Museum at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. Many thanks to the 9th Battalions Museum for sharing their resource so together we can make it accessible to everyone.
James Dundee Bostock was born in Rockhampton on 3 July 1896. When war broke out in 1914, James was an 18 year old farmer working at the Experimental State Farm in Dulacca on the Darling Downs. He enlisted on 2 November 1914, was allotted to the 9th Battalion 1st Reinforcement, and embarked from Melbourne on HMAT A32 Themistocles on 22 December 1914.
Moved to 9th Battalion A Company from the 1st Reinforcement, Bostock underwent further training in Egypt, and on 2 March 1915 he embarked from Alexandria as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, bound for the Dardanelles. In the early hours of 25 April 1915, Bostock was one of twenty-one 9th Battalion men in the first boat to touch the beach at Gallipoli. Although opinions differ, Bostock has been credited as the second man to go ashore around 4.30am, following Lieutenant Duncan Chapman onto the sand.
While he survived the landing, Bostock was wounded in action on 28 July, with a gun shot wound to his buttock which penetrated his left thigh. He was evacuated to Malta and admitted to the St. Ignatius Hospital. On 2 September he embarked for England and was admitted to the County of London War Hospital. Unfortunately his wound was quite serious, and at length he was invalided to Australia, embarking on the H.S. Ascanius on 17 March 1916, and was discharged wounded on 31 May 1916.
James Bostock kept a diary throughout 1915, and this valuable first hand account is now available via State Library’s One Search catalogue. Included in a pocket at the back of the diary is a poignant and heartfelt letter to his wife Cassie, written on Lemnos Island just before his departure for Gallipoli, and to be forwarded to her in the event of his death:
My darling little girl,
If you get this letter it will mean that I have been killed. Please do not let this fact blight your future. I know, darling, that you will feel it very much but dear I sincerely trust that you will soon cease to grieve and will not let the fact of my death deter you from placing your future happiness in the hands of some honourable man who may ask you to be his wife. It is my wish that you may have every happiness so darling, do not hesitate in this step. Strive to live cheerfully and strive to forget any past sorrow. Dear little girl, if it will comfort you, remember that I was thinking of you until the last & hoping & praying to the one girl in this world but evidently God has ordained otherwise. This diary, in which this is enclosed I have kept since leaving Melbourne It is merely composed of notes & written badly but you may be able to decipher it. It will at least serve as a parting gift; treasure it, if you wish. Again hoping that you will try to outlive your sorrow and whilst not forgetting me in your thoughts, you may live a goodly live to the comfort & honour of whoever you should choose as your life mate,
Yours while I live
Not to be outdone by his injury, James Bostock successfully enlisted again in 1918, and embarked from Sydney on HMAT A41 Bakara on 4 September 1918. By the time he reached England on 14 November 1918 the armistice had been declared, but he was allotted to the 5 Training Battalion, then 9th Battalion Reinforcements. For the next couple of months he remained in London, then Codford. He was transferred to 2nd Training Brigade in early February 1919, and returned to Australia aboard the Orontes on 15 May 1919.
In the coming months, State Library will transcribe Bostock’s 1915 diary, and the transcription will be made available via the One Search record.
Robyn Hamilton – QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland