Plummer, Horace Sydney "Syd" (Colonel, b.1915 - d.1996)

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Accession Number AWM2016.609.1
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 17 cm; Wallet/s:
Object type Notebook, Souvenir, Diary
Maker Plummer, Horace Sydney "Syd"
Place made At sea, Australia, Borneo, British Mandate of Palestine: Palestine, Egypt, French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon: Lebanon, French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon: Syria, Greece, Malaya, New Guinea, South Africa, United Kingdom
Date made 1929-1965
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copying Provisions Copying permitted subject to physical condition
Description

Collection relating to the war service of VX109 Colonel Horace Sydney Plummer, CMF, 2/1 Australian Machine Gun Battalion, and HQ S Command, Australia, United Kingdom Greece, New Guinea, 1929-1965.

Collection consists of:

Wallet 1 contains:
- Notebook 1: a grey-coloured 'Spiroflex' spiral-bound notebook with 'The Voluntary Militia Forces 1929-1939' written in black ballpoint pen on the title. The diary acts as a brief summary of the activities completed while in training as part of the militia (CMF). These include brief notes on various activities of importance during this time, as well as a longer description about the shooting training that Col Plummer undertook as part of various Victorian shooting clubs. Most of the entries from this notebook also appear in notebook 3.

- Notebook 2: a small green-covered notebook with 'Taylor's Diary for Students 1936' written on cover. The diary does not contain entries from 1936, but instead contains sporadic notes from c.1938-1943. In several places, Plummer indicates that entries are to be written, with most of the entries from this notebook appearing in other notebooks throughout the collection. Most entries appear to be from when Plummer was based in Australia.

- Notebook 3: a grey-coloured 'Spiroflex' spiral-bound notebook with 'May 1931 - 1st Nov 1939 CMF Service', '2nd AIF 2nd November 39 - 4 May 40 Camp in Australia', and 'Family Tree - see back of this book' written in blue ball point written on the cover. The diary contains details about (Major) Plummer’s service in Australia, beginning with a brief summary of his time in the CMF (as described in notebook 1), his enlistment, and training in Australia. Most of this training involves working with machine gun batteries. Starting from the rear cover of the diary are two family trees of the Plummer family dating back to 1824, some brief extended details about several family members, and a 10-page summary of Plummer’s life.

- Notebook 4: a small brown-coloured ‘Collins Ruby Diary’, with significant red ink staining on top-right corner (affecting all pages throughout), with a small white label pasted to the front with ’27 Dec 1939 / 31 Dec 1940 / Rutherford NSW / Puckapunyal NSW / Ingleburn NSW / Great Britain’ written on it in blue ballpoint. The diary begins with many similar entries to that in notebook 3 with regards to training in Australia and helping to train a machine gun unit. The diary then discusses the journey to England, including the regular stops at places such as Freetown. While on board physical training, church parades, and other training is discussed. Noted in this diary is witnessing the destruction wrought by a German submarine off the west coast of England, with mention of empty lifeboats, and fragments of ship floating in the area. Also mentioned is a Short Sunderland flying boat dropping a bomb on a German target. The diary continues to discuss some training in England, and visiting sites around England while on leave. The diary then discusses the journey aboard the RMS Otranto to Egypt, including some of the same activities as the journey to England, namely attending lectures and physical training. The diary ends with a few brief mentions of Plummer’s arrival in Egypt.

- Notebook 5: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘(1st) 4th May – 30 June 1940 / Embarkation – trip to Great Brit. / via Cape Town, Freetown. Our stay / in England, Tidworth, Pennings. / TX1 “The Queen Mary R.M.S.”’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 4 spanning the aforementioned dates.

- Notebook 6: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘2/1 MG BN in Great Britain. / 1st July 40 – 31 August 40 / Tidworth Camp. / London Leave / Chemical warfare course / 6 days leave’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 4 spanning the aforementioned dates.

- Notebook 7: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘1st Sept 40 – 6 Nov 40 / Tidworth Camp / 2nd London leave / [2nd] visit to Plymouth / Advance part to Colchester / Colchester – Goojarat (sic) Barracks’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 4 spanning the aforementioned dates.

- Notebook 8: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘7 Nov 1940 – 30 Dec 40 / Colchester barracks / advance party to Glasgow / TSS Otranto to ME [Middle East] / via Lierra Leone – Durban, Suez / Train journey from El Kantara (sic) / on Suez Canal to camp at Ikingi Maryut / Egypt’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 4 spanning the aforementioned dates.

Wallet 2 contains:

- Notebook 9: a small red, faux-leather covered diary with ‘Collins’ pocket diary no.134’ embossed in gold on the cover. Attached to the cover is a small piece of paper upon which is written: ‘1-Jan 1941 / 31 Dec 1941 / Egypt-Greece / Crete – Syria / Palestine. The diary begins with a list of POWs from Plummer’s unit and where they were captured, with sporadic mentions of their fate. This is written in the pages designated for telephone numbers. The diary itself begins with Plummer based in Egypt. During this period, much time is spent at training camps, with the occasional mention of shooting practices, including the mention of him being able to hit a ‘1 square foot rock from 200 yards’. There are also mentions of tourist visits around Egypt, particularly to Cairo. Following the time spent in Egypt, Plummer then travels to Greece, where he journeys as far north as Thessaloniki (Salonica), including stops in Lamia and Mount Olympus. Following this period in Greece, Plummer is relocated to Crete, where he plays a role in establishing an allied stronghold with his machine gun unit. Plummer is then shipped out of Crete just a week before the Battle of Crete, where he is moved to Syria, and then on to Palestine and modern-day Lebanon. Throughout the time in these two countries, Plummer largely attends to administrative duties, as well as frequent visits to friends in hospitals. Throughout, Plummer often makes mention of ancient sites that he visits, particularly in Baalbek and throughout Greece.

- Notebook 10: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ’31 Dec 1940 – 23 Feb 1941 / Ikingi Maryut / ~ Alexandria Area ~ / Egypt’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 9 spanning the aforementioned dates.

- Notebook 11: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ’24 Feb 41 - 6 April 41/ Ikingi Maryut – Embarkation / Aboard HMS Chakla for / Greece / - Egypt -' written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 9 spanning the aforementioned dates.

- Notebook 12: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘Greece 1941 no 1 book / General outline of the situation / political & strategical / 6 April – 13 April 41 / Move of 2/1MGs in Greece’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. This notebook begins with brief notes about the CMF in the 1960s including questions that it appears Plummer wanted to ask of the CMF. The notebook then goes on to feature many similar entries to those found during the same dates notebook 9, however they are extended and extra detail is given to the strategic and political situation of Greece according to Plummer. These include detailed entries on how Plummer would have conducted troops and tactics in these areas, including a very detailed account of Operation Lustre along the Aliakmon Line (spanning from Mt Olympus to Kajmakcalan) and further defence of Greece. Also included is a detail description of the bombing of Piraeus as of 6 April 1941.

Wallet 3:

- Notebook 13: a grey-coloured 'Spiroflex' with ‘no 2 Book / Greece & Crete 1941 / 11 April – 6 May 1941 / Operations & moves of / 2/1 MG BN in Greece & / Crete’ written in blue ball point written on the cover. The diary contains expanded entries of those found for the corresponding dates found in notebook 9. Included are loose sheets including a small hand-drawn map of north-eastern Greece with various key places marked, and detailed notes about some of these places such as notes about the terrain and troop movements of the 2/1 Machine Gun Battalion through these areas.

- Notebook 14: a grey-coloured 'Spiroflex' with ‘no 3 book / Crete 1941 / Palestine 19 May – 1 June / Deir Suneid’ written in blue ball point written on the cover. The diary contains expanded entries of those found for the corresponding dates found in notebook 9. Included are loose sheets including a small hand-drawn map of south western Greece with various key places marked, and detailed notes about some of these places such as notes about the terrain and troop movements of the 2/1 Machine Gun Battalion through these areas.

Wallet 4:
- Notebook 15: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘2nd June 41 – 16 Aug 41 / Palestine’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 9 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries.

- Notebook 16: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ’17 Aug 41 - / Palestine 17 Aug – 21 Oct 41 / on rece (sic) / Syria 22 Oct – 29 Oct 41’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 9 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries.

- Notebook 17: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ’Syria Recce (continued) / 30 Oct 41 – 7 Nov 41 / Palestine 8 Nov – 7 Dec 41 / Syria 7 Dec 41 – 31 Dec 41’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 9 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries.

- Notebook 18: a small black faux leather-covered diary (approximately half missing on rear cover), with ‘Pocket / Diary / 1942’ printed on the cover in grey. Attached to the cover is a white label with ‘1st Jan 41 / 19 April 42 / Middle East / Syria – Jericho / Palestine – Suez - / Return to Australia’ written in blue ball point and pencil. This title, however, is deceptive, as there are sporadic entries for the rest of the year. This diary begins in the Middle East, particularly around the Jerusalem area. Throughout this period, Plummer is largely carrying out administrative tasks and giving further training to soldiers. Following this period based in Palestine, Plummer moves south through Beersheba, to Egypt, where he embarks on the USS West Point to Australia with a stop in Perth, before disembarking in Adelaide. Following a short period in Adelaide, Plummer returns home to Melbourne in late April where he marries his sweetheart Jean on 27 April. This is where the diary entries begin to become sporadic. The later sporadic entries generally relate to Plummer’s movement to Ingleburn army base, his wife visiting, and courts martial cases that Plummer assisted on.

- Notebook 19: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘Syria / 1 Jan 42 – 23 Jan 42 / Jericho – Palestine / 24 Jan 42 – 10 Feb 42 / Hill 95 Palestine 10 Feb 42 – 8 March 42’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 18 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries.

- Notebook 20: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘Palestine / 9 March 42 – 10 March 42 / Egypt – Tewfik [Port Said] / 10 March – 12 March 42 / USS West Point 12 March – 31 March / 42’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 18 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries.

- Notebook 21: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘Australia / Disembarkation at Adelaide SA / in billets at Burnside / 31 March 42 – 20 April 42 / 21 April 42 – May 42 Home leave / 4 May 42 – 19 June – Ingleburn / 20 June 42 – 21 August 42 Peachester / 21 August 42 – 24 Oct 42 Deception / Bay’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint and pencil. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 18 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries. There is also a period titled ‘6 May to approx. 4 July 42’, which is marked as not being in notebook 18. During this period training at Ingleburn camp and working towards promotion to the permanent rank of Major are discussed.

Wallet 5:
- Notebook 22: a black-covered notebook with brown canvas spite, with a white label stuck on the cover upon which is written: ’25 Oct 42 / 11 Aug 43 / 12 Aug 43 / 4 Sept 43’ and on the spine is written ‘Major H.S. Plummer’ and ‘VX109 Oct 42 – Aug 43’. This diary begins with Plummer based at the army camp in Ingleburn, then his move to Queensland being based at Deception Bay and Caboolture. During this period many mentions are made of his wife Jean, who gives birth to their son John on 4 March 1943. The diary also describes Plummer assisting in the organisation of his unit, the 2/1 Australian Machine Gun Battalion for deployment to New Guinea. Many entries in this notebook simply describe administrative tasks undertaken, and mentions of letters sent and received for a particular day. The diary continues to discuss the unit’s move to New Guinea, including setting up strongholds in the jungle, and information of the Japanese army’s movements in the north of the country. The last few pages in the notebook contain a summary of the different places that Col Plummer moved to from 1939 to 1943.

- Notebook 23: a small, tan-coloured pad of paper, with an image of a Short Empire flying boat, with ‘Air Mail / Writing Tablet’ printed on the cover, and, in Plummer’s handwriting, ’21 Sept 17 Nov 43 (sic) / Morobe & Buna / NG 1943’ written twice. This diary covers Plummer’s time spent largely in the Morobe region of New Guinea. Much of the diary relates to administrative tasks that Plummer has to undertake, such as the establishment of areas for Australian soldiers and ensuring that supply lines are kept open. Also discussed are medical issues that members of the 2/1 Australian Machine Gun Battalion were facing in humid, jungle conditions, such as malaria and Dengue Fever. Most entries also mention mail both sent and received for particular days.

- Notebook 24: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘New Guinea / 1 Sept – 30 Sept 43 / Morobe area’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 23 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries. At the end of the diary is a description of the indigenous peoples of New Guinea that Plummer encountered, and the role that these people had in assisting Plummer and his unit.

- Notebook 25: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘20th September – 2 Nov 43 / Morobe / New Guinea / 1 Nov – 17 Nov 43 / Buna NG’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint, with ’20 Sept to 17 Nov 43 / NG’ written below it in pencil. The diary contains entries rewritten from notebook 23 spanning the aforementioned dates with brief additions to select entries. At the beginning of the diary there is some overlap from notebook 24.

- Notebook 26: a black-coloured notebook, with a purple and white spine and a white label on the cover with ’18 Nov 43 / 9 Mar 44 / Home leave till 11 April 44 / Buna – Port Moresby / Leave in Aust’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint pen and pencil. The diary begins with Plummer carrying out much the same administrative and organisation work as in notebook 23. It then describes Plummer severely spraining his ankle, an injury that led to him being moved to Port Moresby. Further administrative tasks are noted around the Port Moresby area, before Plummer goes on leave to Sydney in March 1944, the point at which the notebook ends.

- Notebook 27: a black-coloured notebook, with a purple and white spine and a white label on the cover with ’11 April 44 / 29 July 44 / Australia - / Tenterfield NSW / Petrie Queensland / Cairns on course’ written on the cover in blue ball point pen. Throughout this period, entries largely relate to administrative tasks at each of the aforementioned places. Entries generally mention official meetings, training organised for various units, sports played during the day, letters posted and received, and regular updates about his wife and son.

Wallet 6:
- Notebook 28: a black-coloured notebook, with a dark blue spine and a white label on the cover with ’29 July 44 / 26 March 45’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint pen. This notebook is largely very similarly to notebook 27 with regards to content. Most of the entries relate to training and administrative tasks undertaken while based in north Queensland, largely at Atherton. On the back of the diary is a white label stating that the diary is approved for release, and signed by the OC of the 1 Australian Field Censorship Company (AIF).

- Notebook 29: a brown, faux alligator skin patterned notebook and light blue spine, with ‘March – Aug / 1945’ written on the cover, and ’27 March 45 / 15 Aug 45 / Atherton Tablelands / Trip to Milne Bay, Biak / Morotai / Balikpapan’ written on a white label stuck on the cover. This diary begins with Col Plummer in training and undertaking administrative duties in Australia, then continues on to feature short visits to Milne Bay, Morotai, and Balikpapan. In each of these places, Plummer describes the aftermath of conflict, and assists soldiers in these areas largely in an administrative capacity. While in Morotai, however, Plummer develops migraines and then is eventually evacuated to Townsville. The notebook has consistent, regular entries until August 1945, however the final pages add a short assessment of other activities involving the 2/1 Australian Machine Gun Battalion up to 16 January 1946.

- Notebook 30: a yellow-coloured ‘Spirax’ spiral-bound notebook with ‘East – Borneo / Balikpapan Campaign / 7th Aust Division / 2/1 Aust MG Bn attached in / this operation from 6 Aus Div / ~ 1945 ~’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. The diary contains an in-depth review of entries from notebook 29, with specific reference to activities in Borneo.

- Notebook 31: a grey-coloured 'Spiroflex' spiral-bound notebook with ‘My Post War (sic) CMF / Service / From Oct 49 – to – Dec – 60 / Staff (illegible) Oct 49 – 12 Feb 52 / R of O Rigs(?) list / G.2 Trg (CMF) 13 Feb 62 – active list / S Comd HQ / 29 June 55 / AAG (CMF) / S Comd HQ / 21 June 55 - ' written in black ballpoint pen on the title. The notebook begins with a short account entitled ‘My reason for joining the CMF after World War II’, describing perceived future potential threats to Australian security, and the need to be ready in the event of future conflict. The notebook goes on to give brief accounts of each of the years Plummer was in the CMF from 1953-1960 (inclusive). The entries are generally related to training in Australia and administrative tasks undertaken.

- Notebook 32: a yellow-coloured ‘My post war (sic) CMF service / continued – Jan 1961 to – 9 Sep 63’ written on the cover in blue ballpoint. This diary continues the annual summaries as seen in notebook 31, spanning the above dates. This notebook differs only in the fact that it goes into much more detail with an increasing number of individual daily entries. The entries are generally related to training in Australia and administrative tasks undertaken.

- Notebook 33: a grey-coloured 'Spiroflex' spiral-bound notebook with ‘My Post War (sic) CMF / Service / continued - / 10 Sep 63 – to – 31 Dec 64' written in black ballpoint pen on the title. This notebook addresses identical issues to those in notebook 32, only differing in the dates.

Wallet 7:
Also included in the collection are:
- 1 x ‘Date Book of English History’, c.1903. This book contains entries for major events in English history dating from 55BC to 1902.
- 1 x empty envelope addressed to Plummer, dated 30 July 1964 on Royal Melbourne Hospital stationary;
- 1 x ‘notice of call’ calling for payment for admission to the ‘Naval and Military Club’ in Melbourne, dated 1970;
- 1 x facsimile of Plummer’s service record; and
- 1 x facsimile of Plummer’s obituary, dated 1996.

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