Private Arthur William Bazley
Date of birth: 04 August 1896
Place of birth: South Yarra, VIC
Date of death: 31 July 1972
Place of death: Canberra, ACT
Arthur Bazley - public servant, long-time assistant to Charles Bean, and an important figure in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial, was born at South Yarra in Melbourne on 4 August 1896. He attended South Yarra State School before working as a clerk for the Argus newspaper.
Bazley enlisted in the AIF on 5 October 1914. The war was declared on his 18th birthday, but he told the recruiting office that he was 19. Shortly after enlisting, Bazley became the assistant to Australia's official correspondent to the war, Charles Bean. Bazley quickly became an ardent admirer of his boss, and their association and mutual regard lasted until Bean's death in 1968.
Bazley served with Bean in Gallipoli and then on the Western Front. In June 1917 he was transferred to the AIF War Records Section in London and, in November 1918, was promoted to staff sergeant. Like millions of others, Bazley contracted influenza early in 1919 but recovered and was able to return to Australia in May. He was discharged from the AIF in August 1919 having been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Bazley married Annie Chalk on 1 October 1919. They moved to Tuggeranong in the Australian Capital Territory where Bean and his staff were beginning work on what would become the 12 volume Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918.
In 1925, Bean and his staff moved from Tuggeranong to Victoria Barracks in Sydney. For the next 14 years Bazley worked as Bean's assistant and official history librarian. He left the job in 1939 and, the following year, was appointed Chief Clerk and Librarian of the Australian War Memorial which opened on Remembrance Day 1941. In 1942 he became Acting Director of the Memorial while the Director, John Treloar, was serving as head of the AIF's Military History and Information Section. Bazley held that position until 1946 when deteriorating relations with Treloar led to Bazley's departure for the Department of Immigration. He remained there until his retirement in 1961.
Despite having left the Memorial, Bazley never lost interest in the AIF. Between 1930 and 1940 he had written a 'celebrities of the AIF' column for the journal, Reveille and continued to publish, working on unit histories and editing another journal, Stand-To, after his retirement. In 1954 he became a life member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League (later to become the RSL).
Nor did Bazley ever completely sever his connection with the Australian War Memorial and he returned to work in the Memorial's library in the latter years of his life. A pioneering student of Australians in the First World War, Bill Gammage, described Bazley's knowledge of the AIF, which he was ever-willing to share with others, as 'inexhaustible'.
Bazley died in Canberra on 31 July 1972. He was survived by his second wife, Mary, and his son and two daughters from his first marriage.