RAN Medical Officers' journals

Accession Number AWM239
Collection type Official Record
Object type Paper document
Date made 1912-1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


AWM239 consists of bound volumes and loose leaf binders of Royal Australian Navy Medical Services "AM 179 Medical Officers' Journals" for the period 1912 to 1945 (although some Journals post-date 1945). The Journals were transferred to the Australian War Memorial from Navy Health Services, Department of Defence in September 1991.

Journals were kept by Medical Officers in HMA ships and establishments "in accordance with Articles 1304, 1305 and 1321, King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions", and contained "details of sickness or injury, more particularly where such sickness or injury can, in any degree, be regarded as attributable to the Service, and is likely to give rise to claims for compensation" (Navy Order 110/1912). The Journals included case sheets, alphabetical sick lists, statistics concerning the number of cases of each disease, lists of persons receiving wounds, to whom Hurt Certificates had been issued, and general remarks "likely to be of interest or value to the Medical Department" (Navy Order 110/1912).

Medical Officers were instructed to render a Journal for each completed calendar year as soon as possible after the termination of the year, although a Medical Officer in charge of a ship for only part of a year was to render a complete Journal for the period he was in charge (Navy Order 96/1918). In compiling Journals, separate records were to be kept for Officers and men of the Royal Navy and Officers and men of the RAN (Navy Orders 110/1912, 31/1916).

AM 179 Medical Officers' Journals were established in loose leaf format by Navy Order 85/1933, to take effect from 1 January 1933. Journals were to be extracted from their binders and forwarded to the Director of Naval Medical Services after completion (at the end of the calendar year, or at the date of the supersession of the Medical Officer or the ship paying off). The new format consisted of eleven parts: title page, case sheet, table concerning movement of ships, table concerning issuing of Hurt Certificates, nosological table, table concerning nomenclature of diseases, vaccination and tuberculosis tables, general remarks, alphabetical sick and hospital list, list of minor injuries on and off duty, and an enclosure butt for attachments.

The 'general remarks' sections of Journals often contain information of general historical interest, for example, volume 21, "Australia" (1 January 1917 - 12 December 1921) contains information about a flu epidemic giving details of quarantine procedures. Volume 226, "Sydney" (1 July 1913 - 31 December 1922) contains the Medical Officer's summary of the Emden affair.

The series has been retained in its original order, with Journals arranged alphabetically by ship/shore establishment and volumes numbered with a running single number. Minesweepers form a separate run of numbers occurring at the end of the main run of numbers, and employing the prefix 'MS'. Journals for minesweepers have also been arranged alphabetically within volumes.

The majority of post-1945 Journals remain in the custody of Navy Health Services. Gaps in the numbering system of AWM239 have been retained to accommodate future transfers into the custody of the Australian War Memorial.