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Bazley, Arthur William (1896–1972)

by A. J. Sweeting

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Arthur William Bazley (1896-1972), by Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, 1915

Arthur William Bazley (1896-1972), by Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, 1915

Australian War Memorial, G01264

Arthur William Bazley (1896-1972), military historian and public servant, was born on 4 August 1896 at South Yarra, Melbourne, eldest child of Arthur Edwin Bazley, coach-builder, and his wife Georgina Victoria, née Gibson, both native-born. Educated at South Yarra State School, young Arthur was employed as a clerk on the Argus newspaper. He served three years in the senior cadets and three months with the artillery, and claimed to be 19 when he enlisted on 5 October 1914 in the Australian Imperial Force. Although formally designated batman to the war correspondent Charles Bean, he assisted him as clerk and typist.

Embarking from Melbourne that month, 'Baz' served at Gallipoli and helped Bean to edit The Anzac Book (London, 1916). They worked together on the Western Front from April 1916 to June 1917; Bazley was then transferred to the War Records Section at A.I.F. Headquarters, London, and made several visits to France in 1918. He was promoted staff sergeant in November. Next year pneumonic influenza forced him to withdraw from Bean's mission to Gallipoli, but he rejoined the group in Cairo, returned to Australia in May and was discharged from the A.I.F. in August. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. On 1 October 1919 at Christ Church, South Yarra, he married with Anglican rites Annie Celia Chalk (d.1941), a Londoner.

Bean and his staff had begun to compile The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 (Sydney, 1921-42). In late 1919 they arrived at Tuggeranong homestead in the Federal Capital Territory where they were based until moving to Victoria Barracks, Sydney, in 1925. Bazley was librarian and did Bean's devilling; he left the team in 1939. From 1930 to 1940 he contributed his 'Celebrities of the A.I.F.' column to the journal, Reveille: distinguished by their accuracy, fairness and sense of proportion, his articles provide a rich source of biographical material. He was to maintain his talent for writing through his work on unit histories and as editor (1950-67) of Stand-To; he became a life member of the Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia in 1954.

In 1940 Bazley had been appointed chief clerk and librarian of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, which opened the following year. As its acting director (1942-46), he helped to select war artists, to organize the production and screening of the documentary film, Sons of the Anzacs (1944), and to arrange an Australia-wide exhibition of war paintings and photographs. He was a member (1942-60) of the War (Commonwealth) Archives Committee. Joining the Department of Immigration in 1946, he was given the task of examining whether enemy subjects who had been interned during the war should be deported or allowed to remain. In 1948-51 he was secretary to the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council. From 1951 he chaired the Temple Society Trust Fund Advisory Committee which investigated claims made by immigrants who had owned property in Palestine before the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Between 1956 and 1961, the year of his retirement, he worked to reunite people from Eastern Europe with their families in Australia.

Warm towards his fellows, Bazley helped and advised many; to those who sought his aid, he gave much and asked for nothing. He continued his association with the A.W.M.'s records collection and gave valuable assistance to the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Some 5 ft 11 ins (180 cm) tall, with brown hair, grey-blue eyes and a fair complexion, he had married Mary, née McPhee, late Scott, on 16 April 1949 in the Fullerton Memorial Church, Sydney. Survived by his wife, and by the son and two daughters of his first marriage, he died on 31 July 1972 in Canberra Hospital and was cremated with Presbyterian forms.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, Gallipoli Mission (Canb, 1952)
  • D. McCarthy, Gallipoli to the Somme (Lond, 1983)
  • Stand-To (Canberra), 6, no 7, Feb-Aug 1959
  • Canberra News, 16 Nov 1970
  • Canberra Times, 2 Aug 1972.

Citation details

A. J. Sweeting, 'Bazley, Arthur William (1896–1972)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bazley-arthur-william-9457/text16633, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 21 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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