Blog: Anzac Voices
Last Thursday the Photograph Section was given the opportunity to host two recently returned veterans of the war in Afghanistan, as part of an ongoing Soldiers in Residence program. The program is designed to familiarize soldiers with the work of the Memorial, at the same time exposing Memorial staff to aspects of ADF culture and practices that might enhance staff’s understanding of the modern Defence members’ experiences in war and other operations.
When rest of the AIF went to France in 1916, the bulk of the mounted forces remained behind in Egypt. Some men, feeling they were missing out on ‘the action’, left the Light Horse and joined the infantry serving on the Western Front.
The ANZAC voices exhibition features a number of rare documents displayed for the first time, such as some of Frederick Tubb’s diaries and John Simpson Kirkpatrick’s letters. It is also the first time the Memorial has displayed relics recovered from the Pheasant Wood mass grave at Fromelles.
I would not have joined this contingent if I had known that they were not going to England.
Private John Simpson, 3rd Field Ambulance, Christmas Day 1914
Some of the objects on display in the new ANZAC voices exhibition illustrate the ingenuity of the ANZACs when faced with insufficient supplies and equipment at Gallipoli. When the ANZACs landed there on 25 April 1915, they expected a quick advance to Constantinople [Istanbul] so did not carry the equipment or supplies they needed for trench warfare.
“Pulled out of bed in the dead of night by a large monster that ultimately turned out to be a man with his gas mask on.” - Captain Robert Grieve of the 37th Battalion.
Gas masks saved lives but also caused fatalities. They were extremely uncomfortable and hampered the movement of the men, inducing fatigue, disorientation, and confusion.
Corporal Arthur Thomas of 6th Battalion wrote 19 March 1918: