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Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Dr. George Marshall Oakden Collection

MSE/MD 3820


Collection Summary

Title: Dr. George Marshall Oakden Collection
Dates: 1915-1917
Collection No.: MSE/MD 3820
Creator: Oakden Family
Extent: 14 folders; 1 container; .5 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: The manuscript diaries of Surgeon Lieutenant George Marshall Oakden, who served in the British Navy from 1914 to 1919, and the letters of his brother, Arthur, who died in the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915.

Selected Search Terms

World War, 1914-1918.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Great Britain.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal narratives, British.
Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey) -- History, Military -- 20th century -- Sources.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Naval operations, British -- Personal narratives.

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Oakden Collection, [Collection and folder no.], Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Oakden Papers were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in May 2014, from M. Benjamin Katz Books and Rare Manuscripts of Toronto, Ontario. Arranged and described 2014, by Hannah Herbst. Finding aid 2015, by Hannah Herbst.

Biographical Note

Dr. George Marshall Oakden (1886 - 1928), born in 1886 in Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, was the oldest son of William and Mary Elizabeth Oakden. He was granted a commission as a surgeon for temporary service in the British Navy on December 7, 1914 and remained on duty until March 6, 1919, serving on numerous ships in a variety of locations, which are recorded in his notes. He later married Enid Mostyn. His younger brother, Arthur Marshall Oakden, was born in 1889. He enlisted with the Royal Marines Divisional Engineers on September 21, 1914. He died of a bullet wound on May 21, 1915 and was buried on W Beach in Gallipoli.

Scope and Content Note

The Dr. George Marshall Oakden Collection includes manuscript items of Surgeon Lieutenant George Marshall Oakden, who participated in the British Navy's Mediterranean operations. He kept several diaries that detail His Majesty's Ship (HMS) Prince George's involvement in the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 and his time at the Turkish island of Imbros (now called Gökçeada) in 1917. Also included is his "Army Book," which is filled with notes, illustrations, and miscellaneous items detailing his life. Correspondence consisting of nine letters with seven envelopes belongs to his brother, Arthur Marshall Oakden. These letters describe his experience in the Royal Navy from March 1915 to May 1915.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in three series: 1. Arthur Marshall Oakden Letters; 2. George Marshall Oakden Manuscript Diaries; 3. Miscellaneous. The folders of each series are arranged chronologically. Typically, there is one item per folder.

Container List

  • Series 1: Arthur Marshall Oakden Letters 
    • Folder 1 (MSE/MD 3820-1) Arthur Oakden, Hired Military Transport (HMT) "Somali," to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, 1915 March 5. ALS, 8 pages with envelope.
      • Folder 2 (MSE/MD 3820-2) Arthur Oakden, Hired Military Transport (HMT) "Somali," to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, 1915 March 24. ALS, 12 pages with envelope.
        Includes an illustration of the Greek natives.
        • Folder 3 (MSE/MD 3820-3) Arthur Oakden, Port Saïd, to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, 1915 April 5. ALS, 7 pages with envelope.
          • Folder 4 (MSE/MD 3820-4) Arthur Oakden, Hired Transport (HT) "Ayrshire," to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, n. p., 1915 April 16. ALS, 5 pages.
            • Folder 5 (MSE/MD 3820-5) Arthur Oakden, n. p., to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, 1915 April 22. ALS, 3 pages with envelope.
              • Folder 6 (MSE/MD 3820-6) Arthur Oakden, "Argentine," to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, n. p., 1915 April 28. ALS, 2 pages.
                • Folder 7 (MSE/MD 3820-7) Arthur Oakden, n. p., to William Oakden, esq., Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, 1915 May 1. ALS, 6 pages with envelope.
                  • Folder 8 (MSE/MD 3820-8) Arthur Oakden, n. p., to Mary Elizabeth Oakden, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England, 1915 May 12. ALS, 5 pages with envelope.
                    • Folder 9 (MSE/MD 3820-9) Arthur Oakden, n. p., to Mary Oakden, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, 1915 May 18. ALS, 2 pages with envelope.
                      This is probably the last letter Lieutenant Oakden wrote before his death.
                    • Series 2: George Marshall Oakden Manuscript Diaries 
                      • Folder 10 (MSE/MD 3820-10) Journal of George Marshall Oakden, 1915 February 2 - 1915 July 19. 1 diary. 91 leaves; 181 pages filled; 19 x 12 cm. 3 loose papers.
                        Oakden's journal has almost daily entries in it, many of which give detailed accounts of his day and the occurrences on his assigned ship and other British vessels. His first entry opens with his assignment to the HMS "Prince George," and he described his crew's trip to the Mediterranean in detail. He arrived in Turkey on March 1st, and on March 3rd, Oakden enclosed an illustration of the Gallipoli peninsula and description of the battle. From March 5th to March 8th, Oakden, for the most part, described the conflict clearly and used illustrations to explain the front. On March 18th, the "Prince George" was hit with a shell. The "Prince George" recovered and returned to patrolling and bombardment. The Gallipoli Campaign began on April 25th. Oakden described the progress of troops on each beach (S, V, W, X, and Y), with accompanying illustrations. He continued to describe the progress of troop movement on the peninsula for several days. On May 3rd, the "Prince George" was hit hard and had to retire for repairs. On May 18th, they returned to Mudros Bay and began fighting again. The "Prince George" was hit again on May 22nd and sustained two casualties; Oakden described the burial and service for the one deceased crew member. On May 26th, Oakden learned that his brother, Arthur, had succumbed to his wounds and died. He had been under the impression that Arthur had already been dead since late April. On June 16th, Arthur was confirmed dead. Slipped in the pages is a note from Corporal S. D. Harris explaining the circumstances of Arthur's death. On July 2nd, Oakden was called to convert the "Ansonia" into a temporary hospital ship, which he finished on July 6th. His journal closes with a call to serve temporarily on the HMS "Osiris."
                        • Folder 11 (MSE/MD 3820-11) Journal of Surgeon Oakden, 1917 July 15 - 1917 October 17. 1 diary. 77 leaves; 21 pages filled; 17 x 10 cm. 2 loose papers.
                          Dr. Oakden served at a Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Repair Base, at this time. The journal continued to discuss his day-to-day life, like the last diary, which was a lot slower while on land. He wrote about the condition of the British navy. He was moved onto a few ships, before making his way back to England in October. The journal has miscellaneous papers in it, along with a list of addresses in the back.
                          • Folder 12 (MSE/MD 3820-12) Field Message Book, n. d. 1 diary. 25 leaves, 19 pages filled; 18 x 13 cm. 4 loose papers.
                            "Army Book 153. Field Message Book" is a journal, which contains miscellaneous content and details on Dr. Oakden's life and service. It's primarily filled with notes for needed medical supplies. There are illustrations on pages 93, 95, 98, 99, 107, unknown page number, 111, and 114. In the back of the book, there are several loose pieces of paper, including a newspaper clipping announcing his marriage to Enid Mostyn, a list of the length of time he served on each ship, from 1914 December 7 to 1919 March 6, a "diary" from 1917 July 16 to 1917 October 22 with additional detail of of his ship service, and a piece of paper with a "ledger" of sorts.
                          • Series 3: Miscellaneous 
                            • Folder 13 (MSE/MD 3820-13) Report From A Man From Keshan, n. d. TMs, 1 page.
                              Typed account of the "Lord Nelson" shelling Gallipoli.
                              • Folder 14 (MSE/MD 3820-14) Photographs of Market Place, Retford, n. d. 2 photographs.