Counsell, Bertram George (Driver, b.1895 - d.1978)


Collection relating to the First World War service of 21955 Driver Bertram George Counsell, 8th Field Artillery Battalion, France, 1916-1918.

Wallet 1:
One diary with cream coloured covers, indecipherable writing and a green-taped spine. The diary spans the period from 20 May 1916, the day of Dvr Counsell's embarkation, to 7 May 1917. Following this period, there is an entry presumably written immediately after the Armistice explaining that Dvr Counsell had "lost run of the diary" and briefly mentions moving to the 31st Battery just prior to the Armistice, then his transport to Australia soon thereafter.

The diary begins by discussing his journey to Britain aboard HMAT A7 Medic, including details of their stop in South Africa and Cape Verde. Details are given about entertainment aboard the ship, the food provided, the medical situation including an outbreak of measles and frequent seasickness felt by both Counsell and other members of his unit, and occasional mentions of the unit's kangaroo mascot. Following Dvr Counsell's arrival in Britain, the diary discusses training, a visit to London on leave (including a zeppelin raid while he was there) and then movement to France with the 23rd Field Artillery Battalion. While with this unit, Dvr Counsell was based near the front line at Armentieres. The diary discusses the use of artillery by both sides, the food situation, hygiene and clothing near the front line, various aeriel dogfights witnessed by Dvr Counsell, the use of aerial observation balloons and anti-aircraft guns, conditions in the front line camps and trenches, including several mentions of animals drowning in the mud, and frequent visits to Armentieres. Of particular interest is Dvr Counsell's diction, which incorporates much of the common AIF slang used at the time and also frequent use of rhyming slang. Following wartime entries, there are several sketches and children's drawings, and two short groupings of entries discussing post-war holiday travel in the early 1920's. Also enclosed in the diary is large, dried moth.

Wallet 2:
Two letters written by a Mr Duncan Brown to Dvr Counsell. The first letter dated 18 September 1918, wishes Dvr Counsell the best of luck for his return to the front line, mentions several women that he will forward Dvr Counsell's contact details to so they can write to him, and the second dated 11 September 1918, discusses the end of the war, the situation in Germany, and his hopes that Dvr Counsell will visit Scotland again before returning to Australia.

Also included as reference material is a transcript of the wartime component contained in the diary, compiled by the donors. It also contains images of Dvr Counsell, a partial facsimile of Dvr Counsell's service record, and others images related to subjects mentioned in the diary.