Friday 23 April 2010 by nicsch. 1 comment
News, Personal Stories, New acquisitions, Collection, Anzac Connections, Private Records, Gallipoli, Research Centre

This ANZAC Day marks the 95th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign, when tens of thousands of British, French and Dominion troops landed on the Turkish coast.

To acknowledge this anniversary, the Australian War Memorial’s Research Centre is displaying previously unseen original letters and diaries relating to the campaign. The Research Centre’s collection is a rich source of records that tells the story of Gallipoli in the words of those who experience it.

The display is titled Gallipoli Landings and reminds the visitor that few of those Australians who served on the peninsula landed in that initial wave of 1,500 men from the 3rd Infantry Brigade. Many experienced their own ‘landing’ in the hours, days and months that followed, while others, including nurses, served on the ships and islands off-shore. Despite great efforts over eight months and the loss of many lives, little progress was made. The ANZACs were evacuated in December 1915. By January 1916, the last British troops had been withdrawn from their positions at Cape Helles, and the campaign abandoned. 

The varied experiences of those who served at Gallipoli can be seen in the letters, diaries and private papers from the Memorial’s Private Records collection. The Memorial began collecting wartime letters and diaries during the 1920s and continues to collect the private records today.


The items in Gallipoli Landings were selected from recent Gallipoli acquisitions generously donated to the Memorial by members of the public. Some of the Private Records material has been digitised and made available through the Memorial’s catalogue, for example, the note book of Chaplain Keith Single and diary of Private Harry Conigrave. We hope to provide access to more Private Records material online in the future.

Chaplain Single landed at Gallipoli on 22 August 1915 and kept a record of all the burial ceremonies he conducted, from his landing at Gallipoli until just before the withdrawal from the peninsula on 20 December 1915.  Private Conigrave's diary records both the spectacle and the danger of landing at ANZAC Cove.  Conigrave arrived at Gallipoli just over two weeks after the initial landing and he expresses his admiration for the men who landed on 25April 1915.

Also displayed, in the Research Centre’s treasures showcase, will be an original diary and notebook of Charles Bean, Australia’s official war correspondent for the First World War. The notebook and diary on display feature Bean’s impressions of the landing on 25 April 1915 and make fascinating reading.

Bean in a Trench at Gallipoli Bean in a Trench at Gallipoli

Bean was later appointed the Australian official historian for the First World War. His papers are considered to be one of the most important sets of records created by a single Australian. The collection, now displayed in its entirety on the Memorial’s website, includes 286 volumes of diaries and notebooks.

To view the displays visit the Research Centre’s showcases near the entrance to the Research Centre Reading Room.



Wow - great to be able to see those original diaries!