Peter Loney Letter


A penciled letter dated 3rd September 1916 from Private Peter Loney Jnr., who enlisted as alias Joseph Martyn 7043 in the 3rd Battalion, to his father Private Peter Loney Snr. 6277 who was current enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), serving in the 28th Battalion.

Historical information

At the outbreak of the First World War the threat of enemy naval attack was high with members of Australia’s Permanent Force not permitted to volunteer for overseas service in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). This restriction led to some deserting their service roles, which if caught, would have been a court-martial offence. This letter written by Peter Loney Jnr. describes how he travelled around Australia to desert from the Permanent Force at the Princess Royal Fortress and joined the AIF in Cootamundra NSW. NB: Father Private Peter Loney Snr 6277 who enlisted on 14 April 1916 gave his son Peter as next of kin; his address at the time of his enlistment was at the Forts Albany, Western Australia.



Registration number
Item type
198 mm
Height or length
249 mm
1 mm
Inscriptions and markings

3rd Sept, ‘16
Dear Father,
No doubt by this time you are well on your way to the Front. Well anyway I don’t know where you are but I know that I am here after a rather adventurous time. My chances of success were very small at time but between telling lies and imposing this chicken cleverly got away while the other four got caught. Of course I am not of the woods yet. With ordinary luck I am safe. I marked time in W.A. for a week then I caught the ‘Zealandia’ on the 19th [sic] for Adelaide by rail from the last mentioned placed to Melbourne then form Melbourne to Albury, then Albury to Wagga Wagga, then Wagga to Cootamundra. To begin with I left the same day as the ‘Dimboola’ sailed out of Fremantle and went up to Geraldton then I doubled back and caught the ‘Zealandia’. On board I was very rudely questioned by two detectives but the bare-faced one hood-winked them. The boat was then searched at Albany but in a very half-hearted way and I was allowed to proceed on my journey and become a soldier for the Front and be no longer a home defence man. You can tell Ernie and Alan all about it if you happen to see them.
Hoping you have the best of luck.
Your loving son. P
My address
No 45411 Pvte. J. Martyn
“C” Coy Depot, 1st Battalion
Cootamundra, NSW

Contextual Information

Desertion from the Permanent Force at the Princess Royal Fortress is one that is not largely documented, and with little or no reference to any objects or stories.

Place made
New South Wales
Primary significance criteria
Historic significance
Scientific or research significance
Social or spiritual significance
Comparative significance criteria
Interpretive capacity
Object’s condition or completeness
Rare or representative
Well provenanced
Google Maps search term / URL
Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum

Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum

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Loney Letter  - page 1
Page 1 of 2; Peter Loney Jnr., to father Peter Loney Snr dated 3rd September 1916.
Loney Letter - page 2
Page 2 of 2; Peter Loney Jnr., to Peter Loney Snr. dated 3rd September 1916.

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