What is Beyond 1914?

Beyond 1914 — The University of Sydney and the Great War is an extensive, searchable database of biographies and archival information about members of the University community involved in the First World War.

Built on the legacy of information provided to the University between 1915 and 1938 by more than 2000 former staff, students, graduates and their families (later published in the University’s Book of Remembrance), Beyond 1914 features insights into the lives of these men and women before, during and after the war.

This short film takes you behind-the-scenes at the University Archives. It explains how the Book of Remembrance was created back in 1939 and reveals just a handful of the thousands of stories that can now be found on Beyond 1914.

Mapping lives

During the war, as well as before its outbreak and after Armistice was declared, much of the University community travelled, worked and lived abroad.

You can trace these movements on the Beyond 1914 map. Discover individual journeys or explore the many connections to important locations, such as London, Gallipoli or Cairo.

Start exploring the map

Passing the Time

William Henry Tonkin (B.A.1913, Science III 1915) wrote regularly to his parents while away from Australia. Some of the extracts below tell of the activities undertaken while away from the front lines. His family donated typed extracts and hand- written letters to the University archives. Tonkin was killed in action at Bullecourt on 7 May 1917. 16 March 1917, France “For the last few days we have been in fairly comfortable Quarters and every night we have been able to listen to a few Gramophone records. They fill in the evening and make the time pass well….” 8 March 1917, Somewhere “We are all just off to a Picture Show –you’ll be surprised to hear about the pictures....They are shown in a Church Army Hut and are not more than five or six miles behind the line.... This morning I took a company down to the hot baths, where they get a clean change. The officers had their turn yesterday....as you may guess we do not often get a chance of having a bath, and I suppose Sydney is glorying in the Surf at Manly or Bondi!..... We are reading 'The Sentimental Bloke' and 'Ginger Mick'… Have you read them? They are both being very much enjoyed and appreciated by all here."

More extracts of letters from William Henry Tonkin

More resources including videos of Sydney Ideas events

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