Russells Top Handover Report
On occasion a totally unexpected document walks in the front door and into Official Records. Recently a report made at Gallipoli was generously donated by Cindy Osborne to the Memorial. The document in question is a handover report from the Commanding Officer 26th Infantry Battalion to the Commanding Officer of the 28th. The Russell Top handover report is a most welcome addition to the Official Records held at the Memorial, for although we hold the War Diaries of the units involved, supporting reports such as this one are rarely present in the Gallipoli records.
The report was written when the Battalion commanders would have been unaware that they were only weeks away from being evacuated. It is a detailed set of instruction on how the position (Russells Top) should be maintained and held against the enemy. Of particular interest is the page regarding “Works proposed and in course of construction”, this mentions deepening trenches and providing overhead shelter for the fire trenches. Activities that would be unlikely to be undertaken if it were known the positions would be abandoned almost two weeks from the date of the report.
The report was authored by Lieutenant Colonel George Andrew Ferguson DSO VD, who had been a long serving militia officer prior to joing in the AIF, hence the VD post-nominal for the Volunteer Officers' Decoration, and was to later become the recipient of the Distinguished Service Order. He commanded the 26th Battalion for the duration of the Gallipoli campaign and also in France until wounded in September 1916. Due to the severity of his wounds he was discharged from the Army and returned to Australia in February 1917. For his efforts he was awarded the DSO and was mentioned in despatches. He lived for another 16 years after returning to Australia and passed away at the age of 60 on 20 April 1933.
The report has been digitised and can be viewed via the link below: