This document is not in diary format, but has been written as a narrative. Parts of the diary are handwritten, on differing kinds of paper, and parts have been typed.
Typographical errors have largely been corrected and paragraph breaks have been inserted on some pages to improve readability.
Pages 15 and 16 appear to cover the same events (the "8th August 1918 stunt") as pages 17 to 24.
Pages 53 to 55 are badly damaged and difficult to read. While care has been taken with the transcription of these pages, it may not be entirely accurate.
Summary of content:
This manuscript is entitled "My story of the Big War" and is James I Marshall's description of his service with the 53rd Battalion of the AIF in France and Belgium, including at Bullecourt, on the Somme, and at Peronne, from 22 December 1916 through to the Armistice in November 1918, a subsequent period in camp at Weymouth, and a description of the voyage home to Australia. He was significantly under-aged when he joined up.
Also included in the manuscript are short descriptions of periods of leave, visits to London, Paris and Brussels, reactions to news of the Armistice (pages 55 to 57), life in camp at Weymouth at the end of the war, participation in the London Anzac Day March on 25 April 1919 when Prime Minister Billy Hughes addressed the troops (pages 77 to 80), and Marshall's delight at being back home and meeting his family at the "Anzac Buffet" put on for returning troops in Sydney (pages 83 to 85).
At the end of the manuscript (pages 85 to 93) is a tribute to the Roman Catholic Chaplain Father John Joseph Kennedy, who was attached to the 53rd Battalion and who was awarded the DSO "for conspicuous gallantry" at Fromelles. Kennedy later wrote a tribute to the gallantry of the men with whom he had served called The Whale Oil Guards (Dublin, 1919). Marshall refers several times to this nickname for the 53rd Battalion, bestowed after its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Oswald Croshaw, ordered the troops to polish their helmets with whale oil (which had been issued to troops to rub into feet as a trench foot preventative) to smarten them up on parade. On page 6, Marshall talks about how the soldiers' "whale-oiled tin hats" shone in the moonlight, making them easy targets for the German gunners.]
J. I. Marshall Papers
'My story of the Big War'