McCrae, Lionel Oscar MM (Driver, b:c1890 - d.1917)

Accession Number PR04752
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 1 wallet: 1cm
Object type Diary
Maker McCrae, Lionel Oscar
Date made 1915-1916
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copying permitted subject to physical condition

Collection related to the service of 8929 Driver Lionel Oscar McCrae, 18 Battalion. Handwritten diary which begins with McCrae's troopship voyage. McCrae describes seasickness, lectures, games, and a breakout of measles. Arriving in Egypt, July 1915, he begins rifle drill and signals training, guard duty, and mentions visits to Heliopolis, the cinema and the pyramids. Transferring to 20 AASC from 14 September, McCrae commences working with horses prior to forming teams for the wagons. His entries focus on his duties and his care for the horses. Serving in the Cairo region as a wagon driver, his activities included moving cartloads of supplies and building material across pontoons and down endless dusty roads. His service from January to June 1916 is also recorded in the same diary - McCrae converted the first six months dates of the 1915 diary to 1916 entries.
Leaving for the Front, McCrae disembarked at Marseille on 28 March 1916. Carting supplies through rain and mud, McCrae's enthusiasm for this type of work wavers. He is also unimpressed by having to march miles for an inspection by Andrew Fisher and Billy Hughes on 1 June. The diary entries then peter out, and the last recorded entry is 6 June 1916 when he describes his injury after being kicked in the jaw by one of the horses.
On 20 September 1917, McCrae was killed in action. He had given his diary to his friend 8888 Lieutenant Corporal John Waters Hoskings 20 Battalion, for safekeeping. A letter of condolence written by Hoskings to McCrae's mother Annie, dated 22 November 1917, appears in a blank space in the diary - the pages for June 10-17. The letter is a moving tribute to his friend. On McCrae's death, Hoskings returned the diary to McCrae's mother.

History / Summary

Lionel Oscar McCrae was born in Carlton, Melbourne c1890. He was 26, when he enlisted on 12 March 1915 in Melbourne. He was then working for the Railways.
McCrae embarked from Sydney on HMAT Vestalia as part of 4 Light Horse Brigade, Ammunition Reserve. He disembarked in Egypt on 31 July 1915. He then transferred to 20 AASC (Australian Army Service Corps) on 14 September 1915.
McCrae then sailed to the Front, disembarking at Marseille on 28 March 1916. He then transferred to 18 Battalion in September 1916. The battalion spent a bleak winter that year on the Front. McCrae went to hospital on 10 November 1916, suffering from trench feet. Treated in France, he was discharged from hospital on 10 December 1916.
In 1917 the battalion was involved in the follow-up of German forces, during their retreat to the Hindenburg Line. It then took part in heavy fighting around Warlencourt in late February. In May, the battalion went into battle at the second Bullecourt (3-4 May).
McCrae was awarded a Military Medal for bravery in the field, on 9 July 1917.
The battalion went into battle again at Menin Road in Belgium (20-22 September). McCrae was killed in action on 20 September 1917. His mother Mrs Annie McCrae was later informed that her son was last seen at 5pm in the field that day, but disappeared after he was told to deliver a message to Head Quarters.