Special Collections at Murdoch University

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Interview with Arthur Wilson

Interview with Arthur Wilson. [Sound recording] [Special Collections]

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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 1)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 2)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 3)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 4)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 5)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 6)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 7)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 8a)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 8b)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 9)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 10)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 11)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 12)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 13)
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Audio (MP3) (Interview - Part 14)
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Summary

Arthur Mowbray Wilson interviewed by John Clements.

Arthur Wilson talks about his life and experiences as one of the original ANZACS, a sergeant in the Wellington Regiment.

Tape 1 - Arthur was born in 1895 in Wellington to British parents. He shares memories of his childhood and schooling. He studied agriculture and horticulture, taking after his father who was an agricultural inspector. Following the declaration of war, Arthur enlisted in the ANZAC on 17 August 1914 (as did many young men who had completed their national service cadet ship) and fought in the first landing.

Tape 2 - Arthur shares experiences from training. He recalls an instance in a desert where a frost arrived before a camp could be established. Arthur shares some of the lighthearted anecdotes and the mischief the soldiers-in-training would get up to. He contrasts this with the first landing at Gallipoli. Arthur shares an anecdote in which he recalls talking to another soldier on the front line only to later discover the soldier had been shot in the head and died.

Tape 3 - Arthur continues sharing anecdotes from the Gallipoli peninsula. He recalls the poor quality of the food rations for soldiers. He recalls several of the individual battles his battalion was involved in. He shares one instance of a mortally wounded Maori soldier continuing to support other soldiers until he died. This soldier was not nominated for a medal, a common occurrence observed by Arthur.

Tape 4 - Arthur recalls overlooking the British landing at Suvla Bay. He was ordered to sneak past the Turkish soldiers through scrub land to survey the damage to the British. He arrived to see nearly all the British soldiers dead and their equipment destroyed.

Tape 5 - Arthur continues his story of fighting in the trenches. He recalls the rats were always present; the men would often awake to find the rats sharing their blankets. He returns to sharing specific battle experiences, including an instance of "terrific shelling" from German soldiers.

Tape 6 - Arthur shares more anecdotes from life and focuses on his time in France during the War.

Tape 7 - Arthur explains some of the standard procedures the soldiers used to move their gear around (specifically limbers), as well as the various locations his battalion was billeted. Arthur speaks about the rumours of armistice

Tape 8a - Arthur describes the temperament of mules as compared to horses and explains why mules were perfect for limber transport. Arthur continues talking about the various billets.

PLEASE NOTE: Poor quality recording.

Tape 8b - Arthur recalls being discharged from WWI and returning to Wellington where he spent about three years farming. He eventually moved to Western Australia to work as a labourer in a timber mill. Arthur shares some of his experiences adjusting to life in WA and the various odd jobs he worked until he secured work as a gardener at a station.

Tape 9 - Arthur talks about returning to his agricultural education and establishing a garden on a station, presumably after returning from WWI. He recalls a particular instance where he was reprimanded by a senior officer for an alleged security breach.

PLEASE NOTE: Poor quality recording.

Tape 10 - Arthur recalls realising the threat posed by Hitler's regime and enlisting in the Australian Army under the name Brown. He cites being sick of having to wait for leave and other benefits under his own name, Wilson. Arthur speaks about training in the Eastern states of Australia and recalls the day his platoon received marching orders.

PLEASE NOTE: Poor quality recording.

Tape 11 - Arthur shares his early experiences entering combat in WWII.

Tape 12 - Arthur talks about the various billets in France. Arthur shares an anecdote about sending a collection of stamps to a girl in Australia and receiving no reply. Arthur talks about living in a town plagued by snipers.

Tape 13 - Unable to determine. PLEASE NOTE: Poor quality recording.

Tape 14 - Arthur discusses his time being billeted in Tripoli. John and Arthur discuss war from Arthur's perspective of spending a large portion of his life involved in the Army. He describes the fighting as "madness", but the positive side of his experiences were meeting the people along the way. He discusses the time the Australian Army refused to transfer him to the War Graves Commission (despite his relevant horticultural expertise), preventing him from attaining the rank of commissioned Officer. Arthur concludes the interview by recalling the time he was arrested by a power-hungry Officer, only to be immediately cleared of the charges and released.

Tapes 1 and 2 were recorded on 13 May 1980. Tapes 3 and 4 were recorded on 15 May 1980. Tapes 5 to 7 were recorded on 16 May 1980. Tape 8a was recorded on 15 June 1980; Tape 8b was recorded on 21 May 1980*. Tapes 9 and 10 were recorded on 19 May 1980. Tape 11 was recorded on 21 May 1980. Tapes 12 to 14 were recorded on 22 May 1980.

*PLEASE NOTE: Tape 8a appears to be a later recording of the conversation on 15 June 1980 (i.e. they discussed the same topics); it is implied the original was lost or irretrievably damaged. John Clements appears to have mislabeled Tape 8b; Tape 8b was recorded on the 21 May 1980, placing it chronologically between Tapes 10 and 11.

The dates given for this interview are likely unreliable.

This sound recording is part of the John Clements Oral History Collection.

Date: 13 May 1980
Item Type: Special Collections
Collection: John Clements Oral History Collection
Copyright: Murdoch University
Other Information: This recording was originally made on a 5 inch (13 centimetre) reel to reel tape.
Notes: 15 digital files : 329 MB
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/54632
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