Archives for category: Gallipoli Prisoners of War

In January 1919, eight families received a letter from Major Lean, Officer-in-Charge, Base Records in Melbourne. It enclosed a photograph, taken at San Stefano prisoner-of-war camp in Constantinople.  San Stefano was located where Istanbul international airport now stands.

Major Lean wrote that it was “forwarded as a memento of the trials this soldier has undergone whilst serving in the Australian Imperial Force.  I trust he will be spared to return none the worse for his trying experience.”

POWs

The Photograph, San Stefano Camp, Constantinople, 30 June 1918. (AWM C01052)

All the men returned. I have previously told the stories of some of them, listed at the end of this pot.

This post is about Private Joseph Cahir 14th Battalion (standing far right),  Private Harry Foxcroft, 14th Battalion  (sitting far right) and  Trooper Robert Malcolm McColl (seated, centre), 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment.

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Lance Corporal David Boyle, 14th Battalion, 8 August 1915 – Hill 971

David Boyle was wounded and captured during the attack by Colonel Monash’s 4th Brigade on Hill 971 – during the final, desperate but unsuccessful battle for control of the commanding ridgeline at Gallipoli that commenced on 6 August 1915. It seems that Boyle was left behind in the disorderly retreat by the 4th Brigade from below Hill 971.

His mother Christina wrote an extraordinary letter to the Red Cross Australian Wounded & Missing Bureau in April 1918 – run by the wonderful Vera Deakin, daughter of Alfred Deakin, former Prime Minister of Australia.

Mrs Boyle commended the work of the Bureau, but like all mothers, she wanted to know what was happening to her boy – she feared he was going mad.

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Private Martin John Troy 16th Battalion.

‘In the unromantic Australian official history the only mention of Troy is that of a private soldier of the name, born in the severely unclassical location of Geraldton, Western Australia. He happened to be the only survivor of a desperate action in a gully adjacent to Dead Man’s Ridge known as Bloody Angle, where he was knocked senseless by a bomb, and in this fearsome vicinity awoke to find himself among the dying and the dead.

troy & mccoll

Private Martin Troy 16th Battalion (left) Trooper Robert McColl 2nd Light Horse (right)

‘I believe that the middle-aged Australian whom Mr Compton Mackenzie met in Alexandria soon after the first landings put the campaign in a more general perspective from the point of view of a contemporary. He reported that all he knew was that he jumped out of a bloody boat in the dark and before he had walked five bloody yards he had copped a bloody bullet in his foot and had been pushed back to bloody Alexandria almost before he bloody well knew he had left it. (Major John  North, Gallipoli: The Fading Vision p. 19)

That was pretty much what happened to Martin Troy  – except that he spent the rest of the war in Turkish prison camps. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gallipoli Memories: Major John North & Sir Compton Mackenzie

My interest in the Gallipoli prisoners of war was prompted, years ago, by a passage in Major John North’s book Gallipoli: The Fading Vision (1936).

‘In the unromantic Australian official history the only mention of Troy is that of a private soldier of the name, born in the severely unclassical location of Geraldton, Western Australia. He happened to be the only survivor of a desperate action in a gully adjacent to Dead Man’s Ridge known as Bloody Angle, where he was knocked senseless by a bomb, and in this fearsome vicinity awoke to find himself among the dying and the dead. Read the rest of this entry »