James Nicholas Murray: soldier surveyor digital story

Firing Line, Meldrum Lane and command trenches

Firing Line, Meldrum Lane and command trenches, James Murray’s Surveyor’s notebook, 1915, Acc. 29924/18

Private James Nicholas Murray was a Queensland surveyor when he enlisted in the First World War on 10 February 1915 as part of D Company, 25th Battalion. He sailed for Gallipoli in September 1915, then returned to Egypt when the Peninsula was evacuated. While on Gallipoli he was tasked with surveying the Allied trench and tunnel system around Russell’s Top. State Library recently commissioned a digital story, to highlight the significance and potential of Murray’s surveyor’s notebook, which contains handwritten survey measurements, and is part of the 29924 James Nicholas Murray Papers. The collection contain documents pertaining to Murray’s employment as a surveyor in Queensland, along with papers relating to his First World War service in Egypt and Gallipoli, in particular a 1915 diary.

Once back in Egypt, Murray suffered hearing loss from otitis media infection, and on 3 March 1916 was invalided to Australia for discharge. He returned to surveying, and his practice, Murray & Associates is now the longest serving surveying and town planning consultancy in Queensland, spanning four generations of Murray family surveyors.

James Nicholas Murray in uniform

James Nicholas Murray in uniform, Acc. 29924/1

Donor and grandson Mark Murray, also a surveyor and a Director of Murray & Associates, produced a contemporary survey map from his grandfather’s notes, and the notebook has also formed the basis of a University of Queensland 3D modelling project.

Russell's Top, Gallipoli 1915 - contemporary survey map

Russell’s Top, Gallipoli 1915 – contemporary survey map Acc. 29924/24

To learn more, see our previous blog entry: Digitised@SLQ: James Nicholas Murray Papers.

To see more of State Library’s QANZAC100 digital stories, look for our channels on YouTube and Vimeo.

Robyn Hamilton – Coordinator, QANZAC  Content, State Library of Queensland