WWI di­ary calls Corowa home

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RYD BARCA

The Reg­i­men­tal Col­lec­tion is in the process of trans­fer­ring some items from its col­lec­tion to mu­se­ums in the dis­trict where the sol­dier had close ties.

Ge­orge Al­bert Hall was a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer dur­ing WWI and his di­aries and note­books have been tran­scribed, a seven-month process, by Al­bury his­to­rian Jan Hunter.

Ge­orge Hall was en­listed in the Aus­tralian Im­pe­rial Force in 1915 and sailed to Egypt, where he was se­lected to serve in the An­zac Provost Corps.

His di­aries and note­books are in­cred­i­bly pre­cious; they are un­usual be­cause they of­fer a very dif­fer­ent view of the Aus­tralian sol­dier in camp and on leave in Egypt.

What is some­times to­day ex­cused as ‘lar­rikin­ism’, Hall, a sober and up­right man, saw as drunken con­duct was cus­tom­ary, and a willing­ness to fre­quent the most un­sa­vory and un­hy­gienic parts of the city.

Mil­i­tary po­lice are fre­quently den­i­grated, but on them fell the task of main­tain­ing dis­ci­pline and good or­der among tens of thou­sands of ser­vice­men and their re­la­tion­ship with the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Lieu­tenant Colonel (re­tired) Doug Hunter, in mak­ing the han­dover on be­half of the Reg­i­men­tal Col­lec­tion on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 31 said “the Hall di­aries are a valu­able ad­di­tion to Aus­tralia’s mil­i­tary his­tory”.

Mr Hall’s name was al­ready men­tioned in the Corowa Dis­trict Roll of Hon­our framed list in the Fed­er­a­tion Mu­seum.

His di­aries are a handy and con­ve­nient ad­di­tion to the al­ready his­tory-filled Fed­er­a­tion Mu­seum ahead of the Cen­te­nary of Ar­mistice on Novem­ber 11.

Mr Hunter said though many soldiers kept di­aries from the world wars, Mr Hall’s is quite unique.

“It’s a very valu­able as­pect of his­tory be­cause we get all of the sto­ries and learn of the Aus­tralian soldiers in bat­tle and their hero­ism, but this is a whole new per­spec­tive,” he told The Free Press.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing and valu­able be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent; he ac­tu­ally called those that he dealt with ‘scum of the earth’ be­cause they were often drunk, caused trou­ble, broke out of camp or stole things.

“He de­spaired a lot of the soldiers.” Ms Hunter, in re­gards to tran­scrib­ing the dear di­aries from over 100 years ago – which had some parts writ­ten with pen­cil and in a font size equiv­a­lent to to­day’s ‘7’ on a Mi­crosoft Word doc­u­ment cou­pled with hard-toread ex­quis­ite pen­man­ship – said she found the in­ter­net help­ful but ad­mit­ted there were some words she sim­ply couldn’t dis­cern.

“For in­stance, in writ­ing he said he had gone some­where and I had to put it into the in­ter­net. Even though it was spelt in­cor­rectly, it would come up straight away,” she said.

“I worked on tran­scrib­ing it all from Fe­bru­ary to Au­gust, a cou­ple of hours a day.”

Ms Hunter said Ge­orge Hall’s punc­tu­a­tion, or lack thereof, was poor, but chose to leave the tran­scrip­tion ex­actly as he wrote in or­der to best rep­re­sent the ac­cu­racy of his notes from those times.

The cover of the di­ary reads “on pa­trol noth­ing do­ing very hot” – an ex­am­ple of Mr Hall’s concise but clear mes­sages.

A typ­i­cal day’s notes would be no more than 40 words. Fol­low­ing is an ex­am­ple of Mr Hall’s daily notes, this one tran­scribed from Thurs­day, Jan­uary 20, 1916:

“Noth­ing much do­ing only trav­el­ling about a trip to the A.P.M. twice and one to Hel­liopolies just missed be­ing caught in a heavy shower caught six men try­ing to blow the camp Bu­gle up.”

Ge­orge Al­bert Hall, who passed on April 24, 1954 at the age of 74, is buried at Corowa Pioneer Ceme­tery.

A 1954 edi­tion of The Free Press re­veals he was ad­mit­ted to the Corowa Hos­pi­tal with a se­vere chest in­fec­tion that same year.

The obit­u­ary lists there was a son, John (Mel­bourne) and daugh­ters Vera (Mrs Ran­dall, Yackan­dan­dah) and Eve­lyn (Mrs L Obrien of Al­bury). He also had five brothers and four sis­ters.

Mr Hall’s com­plete di­ary and jour­ney from 1915-1919 is tran­scribed on 154 pages of A4 sized pa­per, which is also ac­ces­si­ble from the Vic­to­rian Mounted Ri­fles web­site at https:// vic­to­ri­an­col­lec­tions.net.au/.

The di­aries and note­books of 2678 Ge­orge Al­bert Hall, Days­dale, have been do­nated to the Corowa Fed­er­a­tion Mu­seum by the 8th/13th Vic­to­rian Mounted Ri­fles Reg­i­men­tal Col­lec­tion.

Doug Hunter of­fi­cially hands over the rare di­aries from WWI to Corowa His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s Alan New in front of the Fed­er­a­tion Mu­seum’s war dis­play. Ge­orge Al­bert Hall’s di­aries and note­books record his du­ties as a mil­i­tary po­lice­man which brought him into close con­tact with the less savoury as­pects of the Aus­tralian sol­dier.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.