London: Ca. 1917 - 1925. Hardcover. Naive pen and ink sketch of a kangaroo in profile on the Australian continent and a touching message signed by Australian Imperial Force member, Corporal Leslie J. Malin (39th Battalion 2109) who died in action at the Somme on 30 August 1918.
The owner of the album was likely a nurse (Caroline Beatrice Moore) who looked after Malin in England when he was hospitalized for appendicitis in England in December 1917. In May of 1918 Malin, having recovered, rejoined his company in France. Three months later he died of multiple gun shot wounds and was buried at Daours Communal Cemetery. Caroline Beatrice Moore is thanked by Corporal Malin in the inscription accompanying the Australia illustration, "Many thanks for pleasant hours given when I very much needed them".
The 39th Battalion, 10th Brigade, 3rd Australian Division, was raised at the Ballarat Show grounds in Victoria on 21 February 1916. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rankine, the battalion was raised as part of an expansion of the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) that took place at the conclusion of the Gallipoli Campaign. Most of the battalion's recruits came from the Western District of Victoria.
The 39th Battalion departed for England from Melbourne in May 1916 onboard the 'Ascanius' arriving in England on the 18th of July. The next four months were spent in training, followed by the crossing to France and the Western Front.
The first major offensive for the 39th was at Messines, in Belgium (June 1917), followed by attacks at Broodseinde and Passchendaele. In the spring of 1918, the German Army launched its last effort at victory, known as the Spring Offensive, and many Australian battalions, including the 39th, rushed south in order to thwart the German advance on Amiens. It was at some point in this action, in the area of the village of Proyart, that Malin was killed in August of 1918.
The album also includes many color full page original sketches and watercolors, as well as lines of verse. These include a color illustrated Russian proverb, signed N. Denis; a child with large pearl copied from an illustrated children's book; a baby in washtub titled, "Beauty Unadorned" signed E A Hicks, 1918; "I Love Being Alive I Does!", signed J. Tebbut, 2-6-24; a Chinese Visiting Card with English translation of religious message, signed Grace Elkham, 31.12.18; pen and ink sketch of a prelate in flat topped hat and pince nez, [signature illegible]; portrait of a fashionable flapper smoking a cigarette captioned, "At Her - Boy!", signed N. Denis; and "C. Loyat Fraser's Cover for 'The Beggar's Opera', signed [Helbruck?] and dated 1925.
The album is inscribed from Emma May Elliott to Caroline Beatrice Moore, 20 Messaline Avenue, Acton, London Christmas 1917. Oblong 8vo, 8 1/4 x 7". Approximately 60pp of differing colored paper, of which about one-third are decorated. Housed in a hand made dark brown cloth slip cover. Very good condition. Item #24416