The John Oxley Library has recently digitised the diaries of two World War I soldiers; Captain Archibald Hewland Raymond who served with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade at Gallipoli and the Western Front, and Captain John Norman Radcliffe who served with the Royal Garrison Artillery of the British Army in France and Belgium. The two men were related by marriage. In December 1919 John Radcliffe married Archie Raymond’s sister, Evelyn.
Archibald Raymond was born in Brisbane in 1893. He was the third of six surviving children of Jessie Catherine (nee Shearer) and Alfred John Raymond of “Clifton”, River Terrace, Kangaroo Point. His father, who ran a sawmilling business, served as the Mayor of Brisbane in 1912, and also represented the Kangaroo Point Ward in the Brisbane Council for many years.
Archibald attended the Southport School and achieved the rank of sergeant in the school cadet corps. After leaving school he worked as a clerk in his father’s timber business and served in the citizens’ forces as a 2nd lieutenant. He enlisted at the outbreak of war on the 20th August 1914, embarking from Adelaide, South Australia, on the 20th October on the troopship A7 Medic.
Archibald’s diary contains a detailed account of his enlistment, voyage to Egypt, the Gallipoli campaign and service in France and Belgium. The following is his harrowing account of the first landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula which he witnessed from the artillery ship Cardiganshire.
Sunday 25th: We left Mudros outer harbour at 1.40 a.m. and at 5 a.m. we could see the firing and the landing being made. The landing being made by the 29th English Division at Cape Hellias our objective was further up at “Gaba Tepe” and when we drew abreast of it about 7.30 a.m. we could see that the Infantry had gained a footing and had done well. The Naval Transport Officer then came on board and he told us how the boys had done their work. At 3.30 a.m. the troops crept ashore in torpedo boats and got right on to the beach when the Turks opened fire on them from the beach with maxim & rifle fire. The 3rd Bde (Brigade) Infantry were the first to land the 9th Battalion (Queensland) were first ashore and the 3rd Bde (4000) men were landed in 20 minutes. They did not fire a shot but rushed the position with the bayonet and by 7.30 they had taken 3 guns and 17 trenches. The N.T.O. [Naval Transport Officer] said that it was the most brilliant charge one could have imagined and the boys as soon as they had landed went at the Turks with a wild hoorah and cold steel told the tale during the day.
Monday 26th: Terrible slaughter has been going on & the 9th (Queensland) & 12 (Tasmanian) Infantry have lost very heavily and nearly all their officers are either dead or wounded. Some of the men have their eyes gouged out and others have been maimed. This afternoon the “Majestic” with gun fire has destroyed the Turks right flank. Things seem to be going on OK now. General Bridges is wounded in the mouth and other high officers have been killed. Frank Hayman was in charge of a trench and an assault was made on it and he was badly wounded and he told what men that were left to retire and leave him. When the trench was again taken he was found dead having been mutilated. This is only a sample of the atrocities that they indulge in. There are other things too fearful to mention. (Acc: 30451-1-90)
Included in the diary is a coloured hand-drawn panorama of No. 1 Section Anzac Position Gallipoli Peninsula sketched from 7th Battery emplacements by Corporal Benson and Lieutenant Colonel Rosenthal from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth.
After Gallipoli Archie moved to the battlefields of France in late March 1916 and shortly after was promoted to Captain in the 1st Field Artillery Brigade. On January 11th 1917 he writes of being in the front lines:
Was heavily shelled in the lines. About 30 shells came over between 4.30 & 5.30 a.m. 3 men killed instantly – Driver Gillett, Driver Wilson & Gunner Chadwick. They were hardly recognizable when found. Gnr [Gunner] Chadwick was killed at 5.10 a.m. and the others both killed together at 5.20 a.m. Gillett & Wilson both 3rd Rein [Reinforcement] of 1st Div. and had been with me nearly two years. Both enlisted together and drove in same team and died together. Chadwick only a new man to the unit. They were buried at Quarry Dump Cemetery by Capt. Rev. Harris at 3.15 p.m. Last Post was sounded over them and their comrades were at the last rights. Cross erected with the 3 names on. A sad day. They were the first men of my unit to be hit since arrival in France. (Acc: 30453-1-188)
On the 2nd February 1917 Archie was transferred to the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, attending an Artillery School at Vaux-en-Amienois. Shortly after on the 3rd March 1917 he was killed in action by a stray shell at Fancourt Abbaye, France, and buried the same day at Flatiron Copse with full military honours. He was 23 years old.
The diary also contains photographs of Archibald’s friends and family, including his sister Evelyn and his fiancée Dezzie Hyde of Nundah, Brisbane.
Other items in the collection include a diary and a notebook written by Captain John Norman Radcliffe of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Radcliffe was born in Queensland in 1894. His parents were Oliver Radcliffe, Queensland’s chief inspector of schools, and Janet Wilson Walker. He was educated at the Brisbane Grammar School, obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Queensland, and in 1914 was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Radcliffe was studying at Oxford University in England, at the outbreak of war. He enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery of the British Army, serving on the Western Front. He rose to the rank of Captain and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917. After the war he returned to Oxford to continue his studies, returning to Queensland in 1919.
Radcliffe was a brilliant scholar and sportsman, representing Queensland in tennis. He pursued an academic career, returning to Oxford to obtain a Diploma of Education. Like Archibald Raymond he had a link to the Southport School, obtaining the position of Senior Master in 1923 and serving as headmaster from 1940 until 1950. He died suddenly on the 28 October 1963 and was acknowledged as an exceptional teacher, administrator, sportsman and scholar.
The diary provides an account of Radcliffe travelling to France and joining his unit at the front in April 1916; periods of leave in England; major battles on the Western Front and his observations on the progress of the war; his longing to return home to Brisbane and marry his fiancée, Evelyn Raymond; battles at Pozieres, Bullecourt, and the Hindenburg Line.
On Sunday, the 23rd July he writes:
Here I am at Epoisses [in France] anchored for a week or so. It’s a relief to be up here & see things. Last night I watched & heard the great attack at Pozieres. The noise was tremendous. It still continues & has done now for weeks. Today I heard that “the Anzacs have taken the Pozieres trenches”. Bravo! Australians I’m proud to be one of you & wish I were down there with you too. (Accession 30453-2-23)
He also writes of the death of Archibald Raymond.
Archie Raymond & Leon Francis have been killed. Ye Gods what a bloody business is war! Archie was killed near Imparl Wood just after returning from a course. If possible I’m going to search out the place & look for his grave. Poor Archie – or rather poor Mrs Raymond, Ev [Evelyn Raymond, Archie’s sister] and poor Dezzie. I don’t know what to say or how to write to his people. (Accession 30453-2-67)
His notes, which are written in a 1938 diary, include entries regarding the lead up to the outbreak of World War II.
Accession 30453, Archibald Hewland Raymond and John Norman Radcliffe Diaries, are available at the John Oxley Library or online.
Lynn Meyers, QANZAC100 Content Curator