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War Diary

Norman Lloyd's War Diary

The Mitchell Library in Sydney holds the war diary that Norman Lloyd kept during his service in France in 1917. It contains 21 sketches and comments on what he experienced and saw, and also his soldier’s pouch.

Lloyd took up the opportunity to sell his diary to the Mitchell Library when the Trustees publicly advertised that the Library wanted to acquire diaries: "…for permanent preservation in the State Archives the original diaries of Australian Soldiers and Sailors who served in the Great War. Good prices will be paid for good material. The Diaries will be kept together with other manuscript and printed material relating to the part taken by Australia in the war, and will be housed with all the most important manuscripts connected with Australian history, such as the diaries and journals of the great navigators, Cook, Flinders, and others, of the explorers, Sturt, Stuart, Burke and Wills, McKinley etc and the letters and journals of statesmen such as Wentworth, Parkes, Forrest and Kingston. These diaries will be available to Australian students and others, and especially to the relatives and descendants of the writers for all time. They will be a permanent record of the experiences of individual soldiers and sailors in
this greatest event of Australian history. …"

Lloyd’s journal is one of about 230 war diaries and manuscripts of that time collected by the Mitchell Library. We don’t know what he received for his contribution.

Following are some of Norman Lloyd’s observations in France in early 1917. He described and drew the landscape as he saw them. Today, they appear eerily quiet and deceptively tranquil.


Martinpuich near Albert. This is one of the strongholds evaluated by the enemy in his retreat from Bapaume in March 1917. Sections of the 19th Battalion were employed later in salvage work at this spot, whilst here they witnessed His Majesty King George and staff paying a close inspection of the Battlefield. The light Anzac Railway from Albert runs through this place.” (Mitchell Library, PXB 193/2)

Martinpuich from ‘Gun Pit Alley’ Le Sars. Members of the Fifth Brigade
remembered this valley only as a place of intense fire. Later when they returned (after the evacuation from the Somme) they found the desolate looking country already green and the poppies coming into bloom. The French people were returning to find their beautiful village entirely destroyed.” (Mitchell Library, PXB 193/5)

Butte de Warlencourt on the Bapaume-Albert road. Scene of terrific fighting and valuable as an artillery observation post. …” (Mitchell Library, PXB 193/6)

View of the ‘Somme' ridges from Fricour near Albert. Rest Billets were established from near this spot and a YMCA-picture hall.” (Mitchell Library, PXB 193/13)

15 inch German Shell which failed to explode at Martinpuich was a subject of great interest on account of the peculiar position into which it finally lodged after failing to do its execution.” (PXB 193/19)

Other sights Lloyd recorded are a German Howitzer destroyed by a direct hit from a British shell at Le Sars near ‘Gun Pit Alley’, Pozieres ridge twelve months after the Australian engagement 1917 and dug out on the Somme.

Norman Lloyd was seriously wounded in September of that year and returned to Sydney in February 1918.