This collection includes images of Anzac troops in Egypt and Gallipoli, some beautiful hand-tinted glass slides and a couple of popular songs from the First World War era.
Australia’s baptism of fire in the First World War took place with the landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula of Turkey on 25 April 1915.
The Australian Imperial Force sailed in convoy from Albany, Western Australia, landing in Egypt where they formed the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood.
Archy (Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson), newly arrived on Gallipoli, get a rude education on life and death in the trenches. A human body forms part of the parapet; soldiers take turns at shooting targets held up by the Turks; the Diggers have to make their own bombs.
Gallipoli remains one of the most loved of all Australian films. It’s one of Weir’s most nakedly emotional films and one of his most poetic.
Summary by Paul Byrnes.
Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in Egypt in December 1914. They set up Mena Camp near the Great Pyramids outside Cairo and began training in preparation for the Western Front and Gallipoli. This footage sees them exploring the extraordinary landmarks - the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
While they waited in Egypt to be deployed, the Australian and New Zealand forces were formed into the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) under the command of Lieutenant General William Birdwood. The training the Anzacs received was only rudimentary, and did little to prepare them for what was to come.
This scene of soldiers unloading barges at what became known as Anzac Cove captures one moment in the landing and subsequent eight-month campaign at Gallipoli. The soldiers’ routine activity does little to indicate the heavy casualties incurred or the physical hardships endured. Turkish gunners had a good fix on Anzac Cove and many men were killed and badly wounded in the beach area or by the water.
With the Gallipoli campaign at deadlock, a smaller Allied force, including Australians and New Zealanders, made an amphibious landing at Suvla Bay on the Aegean Sea to relieve pressure on the main force. Many horses accompanied the landing parties, providing vital transport for men and material. This photograph shows men washing their horses in advance of the Suvla attack, with mules, tents and other equipment in the background.
This hand-coloured glass slide shows British soldiers near a dugout at ANZAC Cove. The scene appears calm, with the men in small, groups close to sandbagged dugouts and tents. The barges remind us that supplies were always a concern, as they had to be shipped in. Despite the superficial calmness of a blue and grey tinted sea and sky, the Allied forces had to struggle with a rough terrain, establishing shelter and supply lines on rugged cliffs and narrow unprotected beaches.
This image (B&W glass slide) was probably taken by an Australian soldier during a break from a route (training) march. Australian troops relax under the shade of trees in Egypt. Many images taken by soldiers serving overseas in the war show more famous tourist scenes such as men seated on camels, the pyramids, the Sphinx, or in a building or busy city street. Yet this shot still gives a feel of the tourist abroad, in the relaxed lounging poses struck by many of the subjects.
This hand-coloured glass slide shows men swimming in or lying beside the water at ANZAC Cove, beneath Plugge’s Hill (in background).
How did a lifeboat, left to rot on the shores of Gallipoli, come to have pride of place at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra?
Curator John White tells the story of this little boat’s tumultuous journey as Warren Brown helps us imagine what it was like for those first Anzacs on the day that helped forge Australia’s identity.
Investigating National Treasures with Warren Brown is also available for purchase from the NFSA Online Shop.
Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood, a senior officer in Britain’s pre-1914 Indian Army, was appointed in December 1914 to command the ANZAC forces. Birdwood has been described as the ‘Soul of Anzac’. His Corps headquarters was located in the hills just behind Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, and was open to Turkish shelling. On most days, he could also be observed swimming off the beach, sharing the dangers of Turkish shelling with everyone else.
Surgeon-General Charles S. Ryan is shown in a casual pose outside the aide-de-camp’s dugout at Anzac Cove, May 1915.
Harley Cohan, from Mudgee, NSW, studied drama and elocution before enlisting in 1915. In August that year he was wounded at the Battle of Lone Pine, Gallipoli and returned to Australia, where he wrote the patriotic lyrics to ‘They Were There! There! There!’
Set to music by Bert Rache, the song first became a hit for singer Peter Dawson on the Tivoli Circuit. Cohen found success in concert appearances and advertising, and continued to write lyrics, with his last known works published in 1954. In 1916 he co-founded the Gallipoli Strollers, a variety troupe of wounded veterans who toured Australia until the early 1920s. This recording is performed by English radio and concert singer Foster Richardson and was released on the Zonophone label.
The Gallipoli campaign inspired a number of patriotic songs like this one, that helped to build the Anzac legend back home and give Australia an independent identity from Britain.
‘Heroes of the Dardanelles’ was written in 1915 by Australian composer Reginald Stoneham, The Sydney Morning Herald described it as ‘a patriotic song which possesses a good deal of character in the opening strain’. The song references other songs popular with Australian and British soldiers at the time - ‘Australia Will Be There’ and ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.’
The sheet music included the following note and additional lyrics: ‘Author’s Note - If England’s still at war with Germany, if Encore demanded, sing the following lines starting from (A) and also refrain – The lion and his fighting cubs are driving back the hun, the boys out there, they need you, and they wonder if you’ll come, go now, avenge the pals you knew, they’re calling for you there, your watchword, and one we all love well, Advance Australia Fair.’
This recording, made in the United Kingdom by English radio and concert singer Foster Richardson, was released on the Zonophone record label in 1917.
Australians would have been shocked when Major-General Sir William Bridges lost his life at the Dardanelles. This was, after all, one of the founders of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, a highly trained officer selected by the government to pull together and train the first contingent of Australians to fight overseas. At ANZAC Cove, he was the commander of the first troops to land.
Major-General Bridges’ career was filled with clashes with military colleagues, but he nevertheless won the admiration of his troops by personally visiting the firing line every day. On one of these daily inspections, a sniper’s deadly bullet found its target.
This newsreel reveals the draped coffin topped with Bridges’ helmet and sword. It shows, too, the Swanston Street crowds and pall-bearers including Admiral Sir William Cresswell, Defence Minister George Foster Pearce, Opposition Leader Mr Joseph Cook, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, Colonel R E Williams, Colonel G G H Irving and Colonel J Stanley.
The Melbourne Age adds details of the day’s sounds, saying the service, “was deeply impressive” and its conclusion moving, “the Last Post was sounded from somewhere near the altar by an invisible trumpeter. This was perhaps the most intense moment … many men and women were moved to tears.” A 13-gun salute was given as the cortege departed.
Bridges is the only identified Australian killed in the First World War whose body was repatriated and buried on Australian soil. He was buried on 3 September 1915 at Duntroon on the slopes of Mount Pleasant, Canberra. His monument was designed by Walter Burley Griffin.