National Library of Australia

Raymond Stewart, POW

Raymond Stanley Stewart (1914–2001)Diary 1942

pencil on toilet paper on original card roll; display dimensions 43.0 x 12.5 x 7.8cm

in Papers of Raymond Stanley Stewart (1939–1998)

Donated by Ray Stewart, 1999

State Library of Western Australia
Diary 1942

Lieutenant Ray Stewart (1914–2001), was one of 490 members of the 2

Shuttled between five desert camps before being flown to Italy, Stewart remained a POW of both the Italians and the Germans, until 1 May 1945, when liberated by American troops.

At considerable risk, Stewart secretly recorded his experiences on a toilet roll between 27 July and 12 September 1942, later continuing in two notebooks. He hid them in a Red Cross gift box.

The toilet-roll diary provides a fascinating insight into the daily life of a prisoner. While most entries attest to the tedium of camp life, some entries are poignant: ‘Did Jack come through? Where is Smithie? ... a few scraps of information and suddenly I get a nasty shock. They tell me Jimmie Allen is dead.’ (Entry for 27 July 1942)

Stewart’s daughter has since transcribed this unusual diary, as the paper is very brittle now—after all, it was never designed to last.

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