Review Blog

Mar 30 2015

The Gallipoli story by Patrick Carlyon

cover image

Allen and Unwin 2015. ISBN 9781760112479
(Age: Upper Primary and early Secondary) Well recommended. This book was first published in 2003. As the centenary of Gallipoli is here in 2015 the factual entries are still very poignant and relevant when reading about WW1 and Gallipoli. The author says he 'set out to explore the events of Gallipoli in 1915. I have tried to find the facts, but it is not always possible to separate fact from legend' (Author's Note in the 2003 Edition). This book, with a new striking cover is full of amazing, intimate facts of the soldiers who landed at Anzac Cove. Amongst the many fascinating details is one where Simpson of the Donkey fame, took a possum in his shirt on board ship from Australia. Anyone who knows about possums will understand how sharp their claws are! How did he manage? And to know that Major General William Throsby Bridges insisted that the Australians fight as a single force. 'Had he not, Australian troops would have been shared out among British forces. There would have been no ANZACS and no Gallipoli legends'. p.12-13. The details of individual soldiers' letters and comments, gives the reader an insight into the horrendous conditions under which the Australians fought Carlyon's detailed descriptions of the Commanding Officers, both English and Australian, gives personal reflections. The black and white photographs are sensitive and varied, again giving the reader an opportunity to visually see the soldiers and the terrain. As Carlyon says 'Sometimes we bathe Gallipoli in a romantic glow. We talk about the Anzac spirit and mateship and good humour. The Australians at Gallipoli had all these qualities. But they also had dysentery and toothaches to think about. They stank of dirt and death'. (p 168). It's a very sobering book but well worth reading.
Sue Nosworthy

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