Diary of Oberlin Herbert Gray, January to August 1918

Accession Number AWM2018.785.55
Collection number AWM2018.666.1
Collection type Digitised Collection
Record type File
Item count 1
Object type Diary
Physical description 140 Image/s captured
Maker Gray, Oberlin Herbert
Place made Belgium, France
Date made 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
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Diary relating to the First World War service of 2552 Private Oberlin Herbert Gray, 3rd Australian Field Ambulance. Herbert Oberlin Gray and his brother Frederic chose to join the medical corps, as the family were Quakers, and conscientiously weren’t able to ‘take up arms’. However, they still wanted to serve. This diary has entries written by Oberlin Gray, dated between 1 January and 22 August 1918. In his diary, Gray records his activities and what he sees as part of the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance in Belgium and France. He writes about attending to sick and wounded soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians, building a dug out, treating patients for trench foot, playing chess, being gassed in a dugout in the middle of the night, the funeral of his good friend Harry Reynolds, and seeing many observation balloons and aircraft battles. He also tells of seeing many cases of shell shock and gas poisoning, tending to very large numbers of wounded soldiers, seeng civilian refugees, his own close call with death, a sports day, and a literary club that he formed with several of his friends.
The final entry in the diary was written by Oberlin’s brother, Frederic Oliver Gray. Frederic records that he was only a few feet away from Oberlin when a shell burst and Oberlin was severely wounded in the head and side. Frederic was the first to respond, and stayed with Oberlin until he died in the early hours of 24 August 1918. Frederic wrote “Oberlin passed away without regaining consciousness. He suffered no pain whatsoever. I have never seen a more peaceful expression as was his when I saw him last.”