Biography

Birth date: 04 August 1896
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, South Yarra
Death date: 31 July 1972
Death place: Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra
Final rank: Staff Sergeant
Service number: 69 - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 1st Australian Division

Arthur Bazley - public servant, long-time assistant to Charles Bean, and an important figure in the establishment of the Australian War Memorial, was born at South Yarra in Melbourne on 4 August 1896. He attended South Yarra State School before working as a clerk for the Argus newspaper.

Bazley enlisted in the AIF on 5 October 1914. The war was declared on his 18th birthday, but he told the recruiting office that he was 19. Shortly after enlisting, Bazley became the assistant to Australia's official correspondent to the war, Charles Bean. Bazley quickly became an ardent admirer of his boss, and their association and mutual regard lasted until Bean's death in 1968.

Bazley served with Bean in Gallipoli and then on the Western Front. In June 1917 he was transferred to the AIF War Records Section in London and, in November 1918, was promoted to staff sergeant. Like millions of others, Bazley contracted influenza early in 1919 but recovered and was able to return to Australia in May. He was discharged from the AIF in August 1919 having been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Bazley married Annie Chalk on 1 October 1919. They moved to Tuggeranong in the Australian Capital Territory where Bean and his staff were beginning work on what would become the 12 volume Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918.

In 1925, Bean and his staff moved from Tuggeranong to Victoria Barracks in Sydney. For the next 14 years Bazley worked as Bean's assistant and official history librarian. He left the job in 1939 and, the following year, was appointed Chief Clerk and Librarian of the Australian War Memorial which opened on Remembrance Day 1941. In 1942 he became Acting Director of the Memorial while the Director, John Treloar, was serving as head of the AIF's Military History and Information Section. Bazley held that position until 1946 when deteriorating relations with Treloar led to Bazley's departure for the Department of Immigration. He remained there until his retirement in 1961.

Despite having left the Memorial, Bazley never lost interest in the AIF. Between 1930 and 1940 he had written a 'celebrities of the AIF' column for the journal, Reveille and continued to publish, working on unit histories and editing another journal, Stand-To, after his retirement. In 1954 he became a life member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League (later to become the RSL).

Nor did Bazley ever completely sever his connection with the Australian War Memorial and he returned to work in the Memorial's library in the latter years of his life. A pioneering student of Australians in the First World War, Bill Gammage, described Bazley's knowledge of the AIF, which he was ever-willing to share with others, as 'inexhaustible'.

Bazley died in Canberra on 31 July 1972. He was survived by his second wife, Mary, and his son and two daughters from his first marriage.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 21 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards : Meritorious Service Medal

  • Unit: 1st Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Private Record

Photograph

G01264

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. 29 November 1915. The snow covered dugout of Mr C. E. W. Bean, the Australian Official Correspondent, and his batman, Private Arthur W. Bazley standing at the doorway.

G01264

P03743.001

A heavy frost at Tuggranong (Tuggeranong) Homestead as viewed from the verandah. Frozen clothing hangs over the post and rail fence. The Official Historian, Charles Edward Woodrow Bean, his staff and some of their families spent time at Tuggeranong Homestead from 1919 to 1925 while he wrote and...

P03743.001

P03743.002

The Murrumbidgee River, probably near Point Hut or Pine Island. Identified left, sitting on a rock, is Mrs Anne Celia (Wendy) Bazley (nee Chalk), attempting to cross the river is probably Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean.

P03743.002

P03743.003

John Balfour (left) and Peter Wightman of Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean's staff stand on the bank of the creek near Tuggranong (Tuggeranong) Homestead. The men are dressed in suits and stand under a giant willow tree. The Official Historian, his staff and some of their families spent time at...

P03743.003

P03743.004

An almost dry creek bed and young willow trees at Tuggranong (Tuggeranong) Homestead. A stand of pine trees is behind the post and rail yards. The Official Historian, Charles Edward Woodrow Bean, his staff and some of their families spent time at Tuggeranong Homestead from 1919 to 1925 while he...

P03743.004

P03743.005

The main house and outbuildings at Tuggranong (Tuggeranong) Homestead. The Official Historian, Charles Edward Woodrow Bean, his staff and some of their families spent time at Tuggeranong Homestead from 1919 to 1925 while he wrote and edited the 'Official History of Australia at War 1914-1919'.

P03743.005

P03743.006

Family portrait of the Bazley family. Identified from left to right, back row: Arthur William Bazley (left) and his father Arthur Edwin Bazley. Front row, seated: Mrs Georgina Victoria Bazley (nee Gibson) and Mrs Anne Celia (Wendy) Bazley (nee Chalk). Arthur William Bazley, a clerk of Melbourne,...

P03743.006

P03743.007

Group portrait of the Bazley family and close friends, taken the day of 69 Staff Sergeant Arthur William Bazley's wedding to Annie Celia Chalk (d.1941). Identified in the back row are: third from left is Arthur's mother, Mrs Georgina Victoria Bazley (nee Gibson): third from right, his friend and...

P03743.007

P03743.008

Informal portrait of journalist, historian and Australia's official war correspondent during the First World War, Captain Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, standing in a doorway aboard HMT Kildonan Castle.

P03743.008

P03743.009

Informal portrait of journalist, historian and Australia's official war correspondent during the First World War, Captain Charles Edwin Woodrow (C E W) Bean, standing in a paddock near Tuggranong (Tuggeranong) Homestead. Captain Bean, his staff and some of their families spent time at...

P03743.009

P03743.012

View of Anzac Cove from a hillside above. On the right are neat stacks of stores and a telescope. A group of unidentified soldiers use a seven seater open air latrine to the left and small vessels are moored offshore. A four-seater with a similar aspect is at J03659.

P03743.012

Timeline

Date of birth 1896-08-04
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-10-05 Enlisted in the AIF. Shortly after enlisting he became the official assistant to Australia's official correspondent to the war, Charles Bean.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-21
Other 1917-07 He was transferred to the AIF War Records Section in London.
Date promoted 1918 Promoted to staff sergeant.
Other 1919 Bazley contracted influenza.
Date returned to Australia 1919-05 Returned due to illness.
Date of discharge 1919-08 AIF appointment ended.
Date of honour or award 1919-12-12 Meritorious Service Medal.
Other 1925 - 1939 Bazley worked as Bean's assistant and official librarian at Victoria Barracks in Sydney.
Other 1930 - 1940 Wrote a celebrities of the AIF column for the journal Reveille.
Other 1940 He was appointed Chief Clerk and Librarian of the Australian War Memorial.
Other 1941-11-11 The Autralian War Memorial opened.
Other 1942 - 1946 Became acting director of the War Memorial while the director, John Treloar, was serving as the head of the AIF's Military History and Information Section.
Other 1946 Bazley left the War Memorial for the Department of Immigration.
Other 1954 Became a life member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's League (later to become the RSL).
Date of death 1972-07-31