Mawson, Arthur (Major, b.1892 - d.?)

Accession Number AWM2016.246.3
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 3.5 cm; Wallet/s: 2
Object type Diary
Maker Mawson, Arthur
Order of Friars Minor
Place made At sea, Australia, British Mandate of Palestine: Palestine, Egypt, French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, North Africa: Libya, South Africa
Date made 1940-1944
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copying Provisions Copying is permitted for the purposes of research and study, subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the Second World War service of VX38691, B3/22 Major Arthur Mawson, Salvation Army, Libya and Palestine, 1940-1944.

Wallet 1 of 2:
Folder 1 of 3: Contains a typed diary spanning the period 16 November 1940 to 31 December 1941. The diary begins with Major Mawson's farewells to his family and friends during the days before his embarkation, then covers his journey to the Middle East including stops in Perth and South Africa (likely Durban, though not specified), his arrival in Suez, then journey through to Tobruk. Nearing the end of the Siege of Tobruk, Major Mawson is transferred to Palestine, where he spends the remainder of 1941. Within this section of diary, many references are made to Biblical subjects, quotations from the Bible, other pieces of scripture, and comments on the spiritual values held by many of those around him. The diary discusses the regular air raids that Tobruk is subjected to, Major Mawson's distribution of Salvation Army supplies to soldiers (such as paper, envelopes and some food), his living situation including time spent living in a cave. There are also mentions of alerts being made of submarines in the area, various soldiers' well-being including one case that Major Mawson suspects is shell shock. Key pieces of war news are also mentioned, including the evacuation of Greece, the sinking of the Ladybird at Tobruk, and of Rudolf Hess' flight to Scotland. The latter part of this section of the diary discusses Major Mawson's time in Palestine, with many pages dedicated to the visiting places of Christian significance.

In the entry dated 11 June 1941, Major Mawson notes that he wants to collect the clock hands from the Tobruk post office, now held at Accession No AWM2016.246.2. In the entry dated 22 November 1941, Major Mawson mentions the delivery of several vans donated by 'The Golfers of New South Wales', as depicted in the photograph with Major Mawson held at AWM2016.545.4.

Folder 2 of 3: Contains diary entries spanning the period 1 January 1942 to 16 November 1942. The diary discusses time spent in the Middle East, largely traveling around modern-day Palestine, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and ending with Major Mawson's return to Australia. The diary largely focuses on Major Mawson's work distributing Salvation Army supplies to soldiers throughout the areas he visits, and his many outings (particularly to holy places) he makes during this period, with various friends. There is a significant mention of an Armenian church in Aleppo at which he preaches on several occasions, noting the effect that the Armenian Genocide had upon these people. Throughout there are many mentions of Christian stories and scripture. Following Major Mawson's return to Australia, a continuing theme is his health and how the war had taken its effect on his ability to perform the tasks required of him. Also mentioned is his loan of the clock hands from the Tobruk post office (Accession No AWM2016.246.2) to an exhibition, and his intention to tell the stories of the Rats of Tobruk.

Folder 3 of 3: Contains diary entries spanning the period 4 December 1943 to 4 April 1944. The diary entries relate to Major Mawson's work for the Salvation Army in Australia. While details are non-specific, he largely discusses interviews that he needs to undertake (for what exactly, is unclear), and discusses his organisation of events relating to the Salvation Army throughout Victoria and southern New South Wales.

Wallet 2 of 2:
Folder 1 of 2: Contains miscellaneous notes dating from 1940-1942. These include lists of places visited, thoughts on soldiers including a contemporary description of what it meant to be a 'Rat of Tobruk', services provided by the Salvation Army, descriptions of places and situations experienced, and brief descriptions of meetings Major Mawson had.

Folder 2 of 2: Contains two newspaper clippings related to the Salvation Army during the Second World War; Major Mawson's wartime passport; a Mentioned in Despatches certificate dated 30 December 1941; a copy of the 'South Melbourne Giggle Sheet', a troopship serial discussing affairs and news in South Melbourne; one sheet mentioning the number of students at various Middle Eastern Salvation Army schools; one copy of 26th Australian Infantry Battalion movement instructions dated 20 April 1942; one card advertising the AIF Women's Association; two miscellaneous sheets of paper with personal reminder notes; one copy of 'Services Guide to Cairo' 'published by the co-ordinating council for welfare work in Egypt'; one grey-covered 'Handbook of English-Arabic and Hebrew' issued by the AIF; one letter dated 28 January 1942 addressed to Major Mawson apologising for delaying a meeting; and one map of Palestine, scale 1:500 000, published by 'Geographica' Jerusalem, c.1941.

Oversize Wallet: Contains one framed certificate, dated 22 February 1941, from the Franciscan 'Custody of the Holy Land' certificate recognising Major Mawson's visit to the holy sites of Jerusalem.

Mawson also served in the First World War as 2138 Private Arthur Mawson, 13th Light Horse Regiment.

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