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Diary of Private Lance Balfour Penman

Date: 1915-1916
Overall: 165 x 105 x 15 mm
Medium: Paper, card, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Lance Balfour Penman
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Diary
Object No: 00051749
Related Place:Rabaul,

User Terms

    This diary was written by Private Lance Balfour Penman, who served in the Australian Medical Corps, of the 4th Infantry Battalion, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (Tropical Unit). He embarked for Rabaul at Sydney on the troopship HMAT TE ANAU on 20 November 1915, arriving 3 January 1916. The diary describes his journey and activities in Rabaul and surrounding region until early January 1917.
    SignificanceThis diary is directly connected to the service of Private Lance Balfour Penman in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF), which resulted in the German surrender of New Guinea and other Pacific islands during World War I. The AN&MEF was Australia's first joint operation and expeditionary force of World War I. Penman's diary begins with his embarkation for Rabaul, New Guinea, at Sydney on the troopship HMAT TE ANAU on 20 November 1915, and records his activities in the region as part of the Australian Medical Corps until early January 1917.
    HistoryOnly three years after the formation of the Royal Australian Navy, Australia was to make a substantial and significant contribution to Imperial security in the Pacific region. Following the outbreak of World War I, the British government sought to neutralise the German colonies in New Guinea and adjacent Pacific islands stretching from the Caroline and Marshall Islands in the north to New Britain and German New Guinea in the south. The German possessions represented a formidable network capable of providing intelligence and logistic support to Vice Admiral von Spee. For this purpose an expeditionary force (the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force - AN&MEF) consisting of six companies of naval reservists plus an infantry battalion with additional machine gun, signalling and medical sections was formed in Sydney under the command of Colonel William Holmes.

    The majority of this combined force was embarked at Cockatoo Island aboard the P&O ship SS BERRIMA (a converted P&O steamer), on 19 August 1914 and, convoyed by the cruiser HMAS SYDNEY and destroyers YARRA and WARREGO north to Rabaul. The Australian troops landed on 12 September and after a campaign lasting only a few days, accepted the German surrender of New Guinea. By the end of the year the German territories in New Guinea, Nauru, the Admiralty Islands and German Solomon Islands had capitulated and these areas remained under Australian control for the rest of the war. Private Lance Balfour Penman was part of the 4th Infantry Battalion of the AN&MEF that sailed to Rabaul on 20 November 1915.

    The last entry in Penman's diary indicates that he was intended to return home for a furlough on the steamer MATUNGA in mid-January 1917. After a two month leave period at home Balfour returned to Rabaul on the MORINDA in March 1917; his furlough the following year saw him embarked on the MELUSIA in August 1918. In November of that year Penman was promoted to Warrant Officer 2nd class and returned to Rabaul in 1919. He was repatriated home to Australia on the MELUSIA on 6 December 1919 and discharged on 4 February 1920.

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