Unseen Gallipoli photos surface - amazing!

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by Antipodean Andy, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Note his WWII service. I think I'll open up work's copy of The Weekend Australian to find these pics!

    A hero's vision of Gallipoli revealed | The Australian

    PREVIOUSLY unseen images of Gallipoli give fresh insight into how Australians lived and died on the bloody Turkish battlefield that helped forge the nation's identity.

    The photographs, reproduced for the first time in The Weekend Australian, were taken contrary to military regulations by Victoria Cross recipient Arthur Blackburn, who, with a mate, made it further inland than any Australian after the troops landed on April 25, 1915.

    A modest, unassuming man, Blackburn never got around to developing the remarkable photographs after he returned to Adelaide from the war, lauded as the first South Australian to win the Commonwealth's highest military honour for bravery.

    The tiny negatives lay in the bottom of a suitcase gathering dust for nearly 90 years until Helen Wighton had them developed for a biography of her war hero grandfather. She was amazed by the results. "We were always saying 'there are those negatives of what appeared to be Gallipoli but we'll have a look at them later'," she said. "It was ... mind-blowing to see the clarity and to see what they showed."

    Military historians say the photos are a welcome addition to the World War I archives and magnify our knowledge of conditions on the famous beach-head around Anzac Cove and the frontlines of Gallipoli.

    They show in amazing detail formerly hazy aspects of the original Anzacs' daily battles to survive, including a rare peek inside a dugout and a very early troops' eye view of British warships at anchor off Gallipoli.

    Another image shows Anzac Cove as close to a week after the April 25 landing, before the beach became cluttered with stores, pack animals, soldiers and the detritus of war. Australian War Memorial senior historian Ashley Ekins said of the Anzac Cove photo: "It's probably some time in May. It could even be very early in May. God they're good."

    The Australian National Museum's head of research and co-presenter of ABC TV's Revealing Gallipoli special Peter Stanley was equally effusive, especially when he saw images of Diggers posing in their heavily sandbagged trenches. "I've never seen trench photos like that, showing the depth and the quality of the soil," Dr Stanley said.

    A picture showing 10 vessels off Anzac Cove taken from high on the slopes -- dangerously close to the front line -- was especially rare, he said. Most ships were ordered away in early to mid-May because of lurking enemy submarines, so the photo was probably taken within a few weeks of the landing. "I can't think of any seaward-looking photos showing so many ships," Dr Stanley said.

    Mr Ekins and Dr Stanley both said an image of a Digger at a desk in a dugout was probably taken at a company headquarters, judging by the papers pinned to the dirt wall and what looked like a typewriter on the desk.

    Private Blackburn, a skinny 21-year-old lawyer from Adelaide, was among the first to enlist in the soon-to-be-famous "Fighting 10th" Battalion in 1914. As a battalion scout, he was among the first boatloads to land in the dark at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915.

    Blackburn tumbled into the water when his boat grounded on Anzac Cove's pebbles in the dark at 4.30am. Weighed down by his pack, rifle and ammunition, he twice slipped and went under as bullets whizzed all around and men fell. He struggled ashore and started up the cliffs as ordered by his platoon commander Lieutenant Eric Talbot Smith, who shouted: "Come on boys, they can't hit you!"

    Two men on Blackburn's right and one to his left fell as the retreating Turks turned to shoot from point-blank range, making good use of the scrubby cover.

    Blackburn later wrote in a letter home: "It is an absolute mystery to me how we ever lived through it, for frequently men would fire at us from not more than 10 or 20 yards away."

    Cresting Plugge's Plateau, Blackburn met up with his "old tent mate" Lance Corporal Phil Robin and they plunged into Shrapnel Gully, then climbed the far slope to emerge on the northern lip of 400 Plateau. Mindful of their orders to push forward, the pair scouted a further kilometre east to Scrubby Knoll on Third Ridge, where they saw hundreds of Turks in the valley below.

    Realising they would be killed or captured if they stayed on the knoll, they raced back to 400 Plateau to report on the imminent enemy counter-attack.

    Weighing up all the evidence after the war, Australia's official World War I historian Charles Bean decided Blackburn and Robin probably made it further inland than any Australian soldier "whose movements are known".

    Blackburn was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in August and served at Gallipoli for almost the entire eight-month campaign.

    He was awarded the Victoria Cross the following year for his bravery in leading a series of bloody grenade attacks on German strongpoints at Pozieres on the Somme. Sent home with pleurisy in 1916, Blackburn was elected to the South Australian parliament, headed his state's embryonic RSL and helped found SA Legacy before enlisting to fight in World War II, commanding a battalion in the Middle East and Pacific. Promoted to Brigadier, he led the doomed Australian stand on Java in 1942 only to endure 3 1/2 years as a prisoner of the Japanese. He died in 1960 and received a state funeral.

    Ms Wighton will probably donate the negatives to the Australian War Memorial.
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    It's difficult to believe that they just lay there in the suitcase for 90 years. I look forward to seeing them if they do get donated to the Australian archives.

    And an amazing man too.
  3. CTNana

    CTNana Active Member

    Have any of you any suggested reading about Gallipoli? I recently had a very disturbing conversation with an Australian friend about it and would like to know more.

    Mr Blackburn seems to have been an incredible man who experienced things that I cannot even begin to imagine.
  4. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    I have a few CT. Les Carlyon's Gallipoli is now regarded as a modern day classic but it's huge. Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You by John Hamilton and To Hell and Back, Sydney Loch's (amazing man, he and his wife worked hard in WWII as well) banned account of the campaign, are in my library. That's a start and there's plenty more!
  5. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Will scan the newspaper photos in the next few days.
  6. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    CT, have a look for An ANZAC's Story by Roy Kyle as well. He started writing this book when he was 89 and almost finished it before he died. He served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

    I don't have many WWI books, the rest are Aussie involvement on the Western Front (Mitchell's Backs to the Wall, Silent Voices about South Australians and a couple of others that escape me at present).
  7. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    They will be well sought after by many forums.
  8. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Here's the pics from page 5 of The Weekend Australian Dec 29-30:
  9. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Last one. Hopefully, these will become available other than just these average newspaper scans!

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