The diary of Herbert Vincent Reynolds

Guide your students through the Gallipoli campaign from the perspective of an everyday Anzac, following day-by-day the diary of H.V. Reynolds. An Australian from Sebastopol, Victoria, Reynolds serviced with First Field Ambulance as a stretcher-bearer.

Studio portrait of Herbert Vincent Reynolds

Reynolds' diary begins with his arrival in Egypt in early 1915 and ends with his medical evacuation from Gallipoli in August. His daily entries explore the conditions the Anzacs experienced, the loss and hardship of conflict, and how the soldiers themselves felt about what was happening.

View the diary (via Evernote)

Introducing Herbert Reynolds

Born in Sebastopol, Victoria on 16 September 1896, Herbert attended Sebastopol State School until 1912 and obtained high marks for both the drawings and models he made.

Herbert had been an army cadet since he was 14, and in 1914 when war broke out he was called up for service. While on parade with the 8th Infantry Battalion he was told by his commanding officer to “go home” as he was too young. Once home, however, he obtained a letter of consent from his mother and joined up with the 4th Field Ambulance when it was formed.

Group portrait of the 4th Field Ambulance

Outdoor group portrait of the 4th Field Ambulance.

The decision to go to war was a hard one for Herbert. From the age of 13 Herbert was responsible for providing for his Mother and siblings. Without his weekly income it would be hard for his family to survive without him. Nevertheless, the call to war was too strong and Herbert became one of the 421,809 men who would sign up for service during the First World War.

Care has been taken to transcribe his diary entries without alteration to preserve the original language of Herbert Vincent Reynolds.

Lesson ideas

Each diary entry is an interpretive tool that can unlock the story of the Gallipoli campaign by telling it through the eyes of an everyday Anzac who experienced the realities of the campaign.

The diaries can be used as a historical source and will complement your unit on the Gallipoli campaign or the Anzacs. Entries are accompanied by supplementary information, including links to the Memorial’s extensive collection, further information, and external sites. Stimulus questions are also included in many entries. Other things you might try include:

  • Making timelines of the events described;
  • Learning some of the bandaging techniques Herbert used or investigating medical treatment on Gallipoli;
  • Making some hard tack biscuits like the Herbert would have eaten;
  • Trying to write your own diary on pages the size of a matchbox, as Herbert did.


The following resources may be useful for you in your lesson preparation.

  1. Understanding Gallipoli

    Years 5-9: a concise and useful overview of the Gallipoli campaign with activities for students and teachers.

  2. Memorial Boxes

    Put your hands on history with the uniforms, equipment, artefacts and more you'll find in these six themed Boxes. 

A busy Australian ambulance station on the beach at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.