Project Update

Birthplace of the 56th: Tel el Kebir camp between Cairo and the Suez Canal in early 1916 (AWM photo C00207).

Birthplace of the 56th: Tel el Kebir camp between Cairo and the Suez Canal in early 1916 (AWM photo C00207).

Sorry I’ve been a bit of a slack blogger – as you might have noticed I haven’t made a post since March. I guess I’ve just been devoting all my spare time to the book and have kept pushing the blog to a lower priority.  Anyway, I thought I’d better provide a quick update on where we’re up to with the book.  As I can see from the blog stats there are quite a number of people who check it out.  I’m always happy to see and hear of the number of people interested in our project.

Over the past few months I’ve been concentrating on 1917 (a very eventful year) and have now finished writing the chapters on that whole year.  The major battles were Louverval, Bullecourt, and the biggest was Polygon Wood.  It literally took me months to properly research and write this, their biggest battle, in the sort of detail I wanted to. Since then I’ve moved into researching and writing about the first few months of 1918 and am now writing about the German spring offensive of March.  Meanwhile, Nick has been beavering away on the earlier period; i.e. 1916 and the Egypt days. He is currently writing about Fromelles, the battalion’s first big battle.

So, we’ve been working very hard on the book over the past several months, getting done what we can in our minimal spare time.  Both Nick and I have pretty demanding jobs at the AWM, so sometimes it’s a little difficult to find the time (not to mention the energy) to power on.  Still, we both love working on the project and are still aiming to finish writing by the end of the year.  I don’t know how long the editing and production process will then take, but we would hope it would be ready for release sometime next year. 

In other developments:

We’ve recently launched a bit of an advertising campaign through NSW historical societies and newspapers.  This Sunday we’ll have an advert in The Sunday Telegraph.  Basically, we’re still on the lookout for people who might have personal letters, diaries, postcards or photos of men of the 56th.  Already we’ve had quite a few people contact us.

Work on the nominal roll continues and is close to completion.  We’re really confident that we have an exceptionally thorough list of men who served with the battalion, however briefly their stay might have been.  We’ve now reached 3,500 names.

The collection of photos of the men continues to grow – we now know what almost 200 of the men looked like.

We’re still looking for papers from key figures (i.e. the more senior officers) in the battalion.  While we have photos of many of them, try as we might, we still have no personal papers from any of the COs; Humphrey Scott, Adam Simpson, Frederick Oatley, Henry Cameron, Austin Holland or Norman Marshall.  We’d also love to find something from other key officers like Majors Lucas and Roberts, and Captains Fanning, Anderson, Mann and Plomley.  Oh well, we do what we can and we may yet get lucky on this front…

Anyway, enough blogging for now – I’ll try to not let it go so long before my next post…

Again, many thanks to all who take an interest in the 56th Battalion, and our history project. 




7 Responses to “Project Update”

  1. Brian Bush Says:

    Would be interested in obtaining a copy of The History of the 56BN when published

    • Craig Tibbitts Says:

      Thanks, I’ll add your email to the list of people to be contacted when the book is published.


  2. Ron Brooks Says:

    My uncle fought with the 56th & survived 5 woundings before being discharged just before the end of WW1. He was Lance Corporal William James Walker, No 2844, D Company, 56 th Btn, 14th Brigade, 5th Division. I can supply a photo in uniform if you wish one.

    You may know the answer to a query I have. I am writing his story for the Museum in Kangaroo Valley where he lived. I have a reference to him belonging to D Company. Would he have belonged to this Coy all his time in the Army. If you do not know, would you have any idea whom I should contact?
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Ron Brooks

    • Craig Tibbitts Says:

      Hi Ron,

      Sorry for the delay in responding – I’ve been super flat-out.

      Thanks for contacting me about your uncle’s service with the 56th. I hadn’t looked at his service record, so I didn’t know he’d been wounded that many times. My battalion nominal roll has him recorded as a member of D Company, so that confirms your info. Usually men stayed in the same company the whole time they were in the battalion unless there was a good reason for them to move. I would presume your uncle stayed with D Company.

      I’d love to see a copy of the photo you have. I’ll contact you via email for this.


  3. Dale Byron(female) Says:

    I am not sure if this the right place to do this or not but my Grandfather William Neely was a driver in the 56 and was wounded twice and discharged med unfit. I have a couple of photos of him and would love to have a copy of this book.
    Regards Dale

  4. Anne Jordan Says:

    Hi my grandfather was in the 56th. My cousin has some pictures. My mum is still alive at 93 but I think she only knows the basics. He was wounded 27 /7 / 16 . I guess that was Fromelle. Returned again to the front for Bullecourt. Got trench feet during that very cold winter and was sent home in 1917. Would love to know when your book finally comes out.

  5. Anne Jordan Says:

    In addition to the previous entry my grandfather was Lance Corporal Henry Norman Hammond of Sydney. Before the war he worked as a printer for the Bulletin. He enrolled at the same time as his brother Leslie (stumpy) Hammond Who was in the ambulance corps. He was a professional cyclist before and after the war.


    Anne Jordan

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