Condliffe, James Robert (Private, b.1918 - d.1959)

Accession Number PR05633
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 2.5 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Diary, Letter, Papers
Maker Condliffe, James Robert
Place made Australia, Germany, Greece, Poland
Date made 1940-1945
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection relating to the Second World War service of VX41124 Private James Robert Condliffe, 2/7 Australian Infantry Battalion, Second Australian Imperial Force, Australia, Middle East, Greece, Germany and Poland, 1940-1945.

Wallet 1 of 1 – Consists of three folders of material relating to Private James Robert Condliffe.

Folder 1 of 3 - Contains three diaries and one book of poetry relating to Private Condliffe.
Private Condliffe’s first diary contains entries dated between 18 June 1940 and 19 January 1945. In this diary, Private Condliffe writes about his enlistment, training at Balcombe Camp, Victoria, vaccinations, final home leave, being in hospital with the mumps, embarkation, travelling from Egypt to Palestine, sightseeing in Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, Palestine, being inspected by General Blamey, training in the desert, leave in Alexandria, Egypt, serving at Tobruk and Derna, Libya, being targeted by German aircraft, serving in Greece, retreating from the German advance, sheltering from heavy air raids, evacuation by boat, arriving at Crete, the landing of hundreds of German paratroopers, the Battle of Crete, missing the last evacuation boat, being taken as a prisoner of war, having a shortage of food, being transported to several prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland, receiving Red Cross parcels, being on work parties, having concerts in the camp, receiving mail from home, playing cricket, hearing news of the war, air raids near their camp, seeing concerts in the camp, inadequate rations, poor working conditions in a Polish mine, spraining his ankle, breaking his finger, and being moved due to the Russian advance. This diary also contains a written copy of a message to troops by King George, notes on the history of Crete, and poetry relating to his experiences of service. Additionally, it contains poetry attributed to several other prisoners of war.

The second diary contains a copy of diary entries within Private Condliffe’s first diary, dated between 18 June 1940 and 1 March 1943.

Private Condliffe’s third diary contains entries dated between 27 March and 16 June 1945. In this diary, Private Condliffe writes about being moved away from the advancing Russians, inadequate food, receiving Red Cross parcels, being on work parties, Allied air raids, forced marches, being freed, and returning to Australia via the United Kingdom. This diary also contains lists of German towns and general notes.

The book of poetry contains poems written by Private Condliffe and other prisoners of war between 1940 and 1945. The themes of the poems include reflections on home, thinking of loved ones, the Battle of Bardia, service in Tobruk, life in the trenches, the evacuation of Greece, the Battle of Crete, life as a prisoner of war, and hopes of returning to Australia.

Folder 2 of 3 - Contains six letters from friends and family to Private Condliffe, dated between 1941 and 1945. In their letters, his friends and family send Private Condliffe their best wishes, respond to news from his letters, and write about news from home. This folder contains:
2x Letters from Miss Jean Condliffe to her brother, Private Condliffe, Maldon, Victoria, [dates unknown], [includes envelopes]
1x Letter from Miss Joan Duffield to Private Condliffe, Torquay, Victoria, [c. December 1944], [includes envelope]
1x Letter from Miss Alma McCabe to Private Condliffe, Lookwood, Victoria, 1 January 1945
1x Letter from Miss Sheila Binnie to Private Condliffe, Geelong, Victoria, [date unknown], [includes envelope]
1x Letter from Mr Raymond Maes to Private Condliffe, Antwerp, Belgium, 17 December 1945. In this letter, Mr Maes asks Private Condliffe to write a certificate confirming that Mr Maes was not a friend of the Nazis.

Folder 3 of 3 - Contains one Soldier’s Record of Service Book, one YMCA Returning Prisoner of War card, and one Contacts after Discharge information sheet.

History / Summary

Private James Robert Condliffe enlisted to the Second Australian Imperial Force on 25 June 1940. After a period of training in Victoria, he embarked for overseas service with 2/7 Australian Infantry Battalion. With this unit, Private Condliffe served in Libya, Greece, and Crete. On 1 June 1941, Private Condlife was captured by the Germans as a prisoner of war on Crete. He was interned in several prisoner of war camps in Europe until his liberation in mid-1945. Private Condliffe then returned to Australia, and was discharged on 10 August 1945.