Archives for category: First World War

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 »

Bugler Frederick Ashton 11th Battalion – 25 April 1915

Frederick Ashton was a highly literate clerk aged 21, when he joined up on 18 August 1914 in the 11th Battalion. Born in Sydney, he enlisted in Geraldton W.A.

He was captured on 25 April while tending the wounded on Baby 700 – Bean wrote that he was the only Australian remaining prisoner on that first Anzac Day aside from  McDonald, Lushington and Elston of the previous post. I

He was clearly well educated, with a dry sense of humour judging from a surviving letter, and his report on captivity made in London after his repatriation from Turkey. This report is full of fascinating detail on food, treatment by the Turks and work, as you will find when you read on … someone should make a movie.

At around 4.30 pm on 25 April Bugler Frederick Ashton was bandaging a wounded Kiwi on Baby 700 when the poor soldier was hit again

72 dpi ASHTON-F-Photo Western Mail, 27 August 1915

Fred Ashton (Photo Western Mail, 27 August 1915 – courtesy Kim Phillips, Spirits of Gallipoli)

‘He was in terrible agony and asked me to finish him off. I told him to lie still while I went and sought a stretcher-bearer. But when I looked around me I could see no sign of our former firing-line, nor could I see anyone – they seemed to have vanished completely,’ Ashton wrote in his report after the war.

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At the Landing

Three Australians were captured on 25 April largely because of the mistaken belief that there were Indian troops fighting with the Anzacs. There weren’t – they were Turks.

Captain Ronald McDonald, Lieutenant William Elston and Private Reginald Lushington were captured after being sent to investigate the rumour – Lushingtoin because he could speak ‘Hindustanee.’

All three survived captivity: McDonald had a distinguished career in the permanent forces and Lushington wrote a book about his experiences as a prisoner of the Turks.

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