Murphy, Oswald Ellis Joseph (Major, b.1895 - d.1980)

Accession Number PR05571
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 5cm; Wallet/s: 2
Object type Diary
Maker Murphy, Oswald Ellis Joseph
Place made Ceylon, Eritrea, Libya: Tobruk
Date made 1940-1942
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copying Provisions Copying is permitted for the purposes of research and study, subject to physical condition
Source credit to This item has been digitised with funding provided by Commonwealth Government.

Collection relating to the Second World War service of QX6269 Major Sir Oswald Ellis Joseph Murphy, 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station, Australia, Egypt, Palestine, Eritrea, Abyssinia, Libya, and Ceylon, 1940-1942.

Collection consists of Volumes I and II of typed transcript from his original diary, transcribed after the war. Occasional photographs appear on the pages of the diary and depict surrounding landscapes, fellow soldiers, and local African populations often in traditional dress. Throughout the volumes are details of patients he treated, as well as statistics. There are also details about common illnesses in certain places, such as malaria in Ceylon, and their direct causes. Also common are details about mail, news of friends and family, and regular updates regarding key events during the war including how and when this news reached him.

Wallet 1:
Consists of one yellow-covered bound volume with 'Diary of Sir Ellis Murphy / Volume I' on the cover. This volume of the diary spans the period 27 November 1940 to 10 August 1941. The diary begins with Murphy leaving Australia from Fremantle, and the voyage to Colombo. During this period, descriptions of life on board the ship are common, as are mentions of fish that are seen from the ship. Throughout the journey, as is the case throughout the diaries, are details about Murphy's medical cases. Time on leave in Colombo is also discussed. Following Colombo, Murphy then proceeds to the Middle East via the Gulf of Suez, with many descriptions of the sites during this journey and their eventual arrival at Port Tewfik, where he takes several days leave. Next the journey to Haifa is described, including the journey through the Suez Canal. Following some time on leave and descriptions of visits to various holy sites in the area and to major cities such as Tel Aviv, Murphy then goes south through Gaza en route to Palestine. During this period he provides a long description of Christmas 1940 and the delivery of the Australian Comforts Fund's packages to the soldiers - during this time, he is working behind the lines. Following several months in Gaza, Murphy returns to Egypt en route to Tobruk where he sees much action. These entries are filled with descriptions of air raids, including on the 2/4 Australian General Hospital, the injuries sustained by patients and other medical staff, and the process for evacuations. After several months at Tobruk, Murphy returns to northern Egypt, where he is put on leave. While on leave he visits Cairo and several of his friends, including an account of having a beer with Dr Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop. The first volume ends with Murphy's arrival at El Kantara.

Wallet 2:
Consists of one yellow-covered bound volume with 'Diary of Sir Ellis Murphy / Volume 2' on the cover. This volume of the diary spans the period 13 August 1941 to 30 July 1942. This volume begins with Murphy based near Tel Aviv as part of the 2/5 Australian General Hospital. While there, he visits many places of interest to tourists, including those of religious interest. In late August, Murphy is transferred to Eritrea, where he spends the next three months. During this time, there is little work for medical staff and much of the diary discusses leisure time, including: one notable trip to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) for a private viewing of the Ethiopian crown jewels; several games of cricket; investigating a nearby crashed Bristol Blenheim; and observing the local population and animals, offering his opinions. For Christmas 1941, Murphy is transferred to the 2/4 Australian General Hospital in Jerusalem, where he discusses encountering an unusually large amount of snow. After several months of moving around various Australian hospitals in Palestine, Egypt, and Libya, he is transferred in March 1942 to the 2/4 Australian General Hospital in Colombo via Suez and Aden on the RMS Orontes. Throughout this time a further recurring subject is the increasing tension between Japan and the Allies, and his concern for Australia. While in Ceylon most of Murphy’s patients suffer from malaria and other mosquito-borne ailments, which receive frequent mentions. The remainder of the entries while in Ceylon are spent discussing the politics of promotion, general hospital work, news that he is receiving about the war in other areas, and time spent on leave exploring the countryside and often playing tennis. The last few pages of the volume contain a description of Murphy’s return to Australia, time spent on leave in Perth including seeing several of his friends, and ends with his ship departing Perth for the eastern states.

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