The State Library of New South Wales holds a rich collection of resources on the Great War including diaries, letters, maps, photographs, artworks, posters and newspapers. Browse and  search this selection of content, explore our stories and join us in commemorating the Australian experiences of the War.

The State Library of New South Wales holds a rich collection of resources on the Great War including diaries, letters, maps, photographs, artworks, posters and newspapers. Browse and  search this selection of content, explore our stories and join us in commemorating the Australian experiences of the War.

Portraits of War: The Crown Studios Project
Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 9:00am
Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War I
Saturday, July 5, 2014 - 9:00am
Diaries

The personal diaries and letters documenting Australian’s experiences of the Great War are one of the great strengths of the Library’s World War I collections. Many of these were acquired soon after the war ended. They capture the  authentic and personal observations of those who served  - before their memories were diluted by the passing of time and unreliable reminiscences.

Browse over 1200 volumes of diaries and letters written by 550 diarists including soldiers, nurses, journalists and artists.


Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War One
Free exhibition in the Galleries 
5 July -
21 September 2014
They were teachers, farmers, clerks and architects. Some were still at school. They came from cities, regional towns and the bush. From August 1914 Australian men and women kissed their loved ones goodbye and enlisted in a war they knew little about. With pride, they went to war with just a few months of battle training under their belts. Some would not return home; those who did were changed forever. view



John Victor Armstrong was born in June 1899 in Cooper's Shoot on the N.S.W. north coast. He enlisted at Lismore, N.S.W. age 18 in July 1916 and embarked from Sydney on board HMAT Benalla on November 9, 1916. He served in the 5th reinforcement of the 39th Battalion. He was wounded in action in France on June 9, 1918 and was reported to have 'very little hope of recovery'. He did recover, and was returned to Australia on the HT Takada December 24, 1918. He spent the remainder of his working life farming at Cooper's Shoot and raising four children with his wife Grace.

Themes

Explore our collections through a series of themes which reflect Australia’s experience of war including Daily Life at the Front, Love and Friendship, Children in War and Entertainment for the troops.  Each theme contains a selection of stories, image galleries and articles. 

Over time we will add new stories and galleries as our collections are digitised, transcribed and interpreted. 

Stories

What was it really like for men and women on the front line? Our collections tell us through the personal accounts found in diaries, maps that document the progress of the war, newspapers and ephemera that reflected what was happening on the home front, and life captured through the photographer’s lens.

Newly commissioned articles by researchers, historians and curators provide insights into Australia's experience of the Great War.  

Wesley Choat and his two brothers enlisted in 1915. The three Choat boys were from Clarence Park, South Australia and they were all in the 32nd Battalion. This was ominous. The 32nd Battalion suffered terrible losses at Fromelles in July 1916. Raymond and Archie were both killed in the battle. On that same day Wesley was taken prisoner but eventually managed to escape by crossing the border into Holland. 

Learning

These learning resources and activities are linked to the NSW curriculum and are designed to engage students through key inquiry questions and original materials from the Library's collections.

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