Anzac revisited and how one thing leads to another…

Currently I am reading Gallipoli (2011, pb 2013) by Peter Hart.

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I am only up to Chapter 5, but that for an Australian is one of the most interesting as it deals with the first landing at Anzac Cove between moonset and dawn, 3.30 am on 25 April 1915. One of the book’s best features, as this review says, is “a trove of primary source material, in particular soldiers’ accounts of their experiences. Gallipoli is replete with lengthy and compelling quotations by Australian, British, French and Turkish soldiers, most never before published.” Indeed they are fascinating.

Most of us have pictured the landing as met with Turkish machine gun fire as the first boats landed, but apparently this was not the case as at that point the relevant Turkish regiment had only one machine gun company of four guns which was being held in reserve some distance away during that first Anzac landing. (See Hart p.84.) Compare Chris Roberts Wartime 50 Feature Article: Turkish machine-guns at the landing.

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That is the earliest known photo of the Anzac landing: “Captain Harry Charles Davies went ashore with the 15th Battalion on 25 April 1915. Harry took this photograph at the landing and authorised a patent attorney as his agent. His copyright application was approved. He was shot in the ankle during the charge from the 4th Brigade lines on 28 April and returned to Australia on 10 June 1915. [Item 3791, A1861/1, National Archives of Australia.]” I found that in an article The Battle of the Landing, 25 April – 3 May 1915 on the official Australian commemorative site. It is by one Richard Reid – and that is where one thing leads to another!

Dr Richard Reid,  Irish born and educated, worked for more than 40 years as a high school teacher, museum educator, historian and museum curator. Thirty of those years were spent in Canberra, in institutions such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the Senate and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In 2011, he was the Senior Curator for the National Museum’s exhibition on the Irish in Australia, ‘Not just Ned’.

Richard has written widely on the subject of Australia at war and of the story of the Irish in Australia and has led tours to Ireland, the Western Front and Gallipoli. Recently retired from the Australian Public Service, he is still involved in a major archaeological and historical survey of the Anzac area on the Gallipoli peninsula and various projects on the emigration of the Irish to Australia during the 19th century.

Among Richard’s publications are “A Decent Set of Girls”: The Irish Famine Orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot, 1849-1850 (with Cheryl Mongan), Farewell My Children: Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia, 1848-1870, Bomber Command: Australians in World War II and Sinners, Saints and Settlers: A Journey through Irish Australia (with Brendon Kelson).

And it was as a high school teacher in Wollongong that I recall Richard from the 1970s to early 1980s. I particularly recall a talk he gave a Year 12 Study Day on W B Yeats.

At that time I did not know my own family hailed originally (1820s) from County Cavan, County Armagh and nearby in Ireland – I had no idea whatsoever! That knowledge only came my way 15 or so years ago, believe it or not. If only I had known! See this item from Inside History:

For our Expert Q&A on Thursday, June 6 [2013] we had Dr Richard Reid and Dr Perry McIntyre to answer your questions about Irish immigration in the 1800s.

There are some great links there which I have bookmarked for later exploration, but it is such a shame I hadn’t been able to chat about such matters with Richard 40-odd years ago!

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