Friday, 4 December 2015

Gallipoli Diaries

The Gallipoli ordeal is almost over.

We've been looking at some diaries written by men who were there.  You can just google "Gallipoli Diaries" and a number of results will lead you to various State Libraries and other websites where you can read digitised copies or transcripts.  The Australian War Memorial is still the best source, however.  We've been reading the 1915-16 diary of John Kingsley Gammage, a soldier from Cootamundra, NSW, who sailed from Sydney in April 1915 aboard the Argyllshire.  He survived the First World War and returned to Australia.

Gammage landed at Gallipoli on 26 June 1915. He was wounded in the left leg during the battle of Lone Pine in August 1915 and was sent to Mudros for treatment and recuperation. He re-joined the 1st Battalion on 25 September 1915. After the evacuation from Gallipoli, Gammage returned to Egypt with the Battalion but was transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps on 29 January 1916. He served with the Corps in Libya and Palestine. 

There isn't much evidence of a legend in the making, reading his diary. He writes of reinforcements arriving, and how shocked they are by the appearance of the men they are relieving - worn, weary and emaciated. He writes of tiredness and weakness, hunger and overwork, and is scathing of officers and their petty requests. He also notes how hard it is to know what is happening overall, and says this diary can only be his own account of his own Company.

You can read the original diary at the AWM site, but there is also a typed transcript. Although the transcript is far easier to read, it is very emotive to read Gammage's own handwriting.

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