Improvised draughts board : Quinn's Post, Gallipoli

Unit 17th Australian Infantry Battalion
Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Anzac Area (Gallipoli), Quinn's Post Area, Quinn's Post
Accession Number RELAWM00304
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Wood
Maker Unknown
Place made Ottoman Empire: Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Date made 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Draughts board made from a piece of wooden box (probably pine). A rough square has been drawn on the wood in graphite pencil, approximately 50 mm from the top of the board, and approximately 25 mm from each side edge of the board. The square has been divided into eight by eight rows (making 64 small rough squares). Alternating squares have been coloured in with a dark circle, indicating 'black' squares. The 'white' squares have been left uncoloured. The bottom edge of the board has been broken and most of the bottom row of squares is missing. One side of the board bears three screws, the other side two screws. These attach two thin boards vertically to the back of the draughts board.

History / Summary

Improvised draughts board found in Australian trenches at Quinn's Post by the Australian Historical Mission on 24 February 1919. The Mission, led by Official Historian C E W Bean, visited Gallipoli in February and March 1919 to collect items for the nation, to record the area through artworks and photographs, and to explore the battlefields to answer some of the 'riddles of Anzac' for the future Australian official history of the war.

This roughly made draughts board illustrates the difficulties troops had in acquiring items on the peninsula. Enterprising soldiers used skill and ingenuity to fill the demand by improvising useful or entertaining articles out of battlefield debris.

Quinn's Post was the most advanced post of the ANZAC line. Located on the northern edge of the main ANZAC line, together with Pope's Hill, it was one of the keys to the Monash and Shrapnel valleys. If it had fallen the Turks could have broken into the heart of the ANZAC position.

Quinn's Post was first formed in the days following the 25 April landing by small parties of several Australian and New Zealand units, and later the British Royal Marines. It was named after Major Hugh Quinn of the 15th Battalion, who was killed leading a charge against Turks who had gained a foothold in the Post on 29 May. For the campaign's first two months Quinn's was mainly garrisoned by the 13th, 15th and 16th Battalions and then the 1st Light Horse Brigade.

In June 1915 the New Zealand Infantry Brigade replaced them, and from September it was held exclusively by the 17th Battalion. As the 17th Battalion was the last unit to hold Quinn's during the Gallipoli campaign, it is probable this draughts board was owned, and possibly made by, a member of that unit.