Archives for category: First World 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.”


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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Twenty-five New Zealanders were taken prisoner at Gallipoli: one  on  the  first  day,  21  at  Chunuk  Bair on  8 August,  and  three  at  Hill  60, 21-28 August.  All were wounded when captured; six would die as prisoners of the Turks.

Private Thomas Burgess was captured on 25 April – he died and is buried with two other Kiwis at Haidar Pasha cemetery in Istanbul. He died at a hospital where Lieutenant-Colonel  Charles Doughty-Wylie (Gallipoli VC) worked with the Red Cross before the war.

An account of the  capture of the heroic Wellingtons on Chunuk Bair on 8 August is provided by Private Reginald Davis, and of the horrific conditions endured in the camps by ordinary soldiers by Private William Surgenor, both of the Wellington Battalion.

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A clarification/addition to the 8 January post ‘Gurkhas to the left, don’t shoot.’

lndian Mountain battery Gallipoli

Indian Mountain Battery at Gallipoli


SIkh soldiers at Gallipoli

Of course there were elements of the Indian Army at Gallipoli, but there were no infantry on 25 April, as Bean stated

‘The Indian Army was represented at Gallipoli by the 7th Indian Mountain Artillery Brigade, the Indian mule corps, a medical establishment, and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade. The infantry served in the Helles area from the 1st of May till the 10th of July, being transferred to Anzac after a brief period of rest and reorganisation at Imbros, just in time to take part in the August offensive; while the artillery landed with the ANZAC and shared all the travails and vicissitudes of that corps, from the day of the first landings on the 25th of April till the final evacuation in December.’

Some  1,358  Indian soldiers died at Gallipoli with 3,421 wounded. At the third battle of Krithia 3/4 June 371 men of the 14th Sikh regiment were killed or died of wounds.

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