Stanley Melbourne Bruce was born into a wealthy commercial family. He was an outstanding athlete at school and later Cambridge University, where he qualified as a barrister.
He was in England when war was declared in 1914, and enlisted in the British Army. He was awarded the Military Cross, a high order award for bravery in battle, at Gallipoli.
He was wounded and returned to Australia in 1917. He entered the Commonwealth Parliament in 1918, and served as Treasurer, and then Prime Minister. He served as Australia’s High Commissioner to Britain between 1933 and 1945.
Until the day he died, Stanley Melbourne Bruce kept two photographs in his study – one of his wife and one of Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state. As young men they were enemies at Gallipoli, but during the postwar years of international reconstruction, they forged a mutual admiration as passionate advocates of secularism.
After the League of Nations Montreux conference in 1936, that successfully organised the international passage of warships through the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits of Turkey, Atatürk presented Bruce with a gold cigarette case, which he treasured for the rest of his life.
Stanley Melbourne Bruce (1883–1967) was Prime Minister of Australia from February 1923 to October 1929. Stanley Melbourne Bruce’s cigarette case is held at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra.
The Prime Ministers' National Treasures is also available for purchase from the NFSA Online Shop.