The Gallipoli Letter

The Gallipoli Letter

The Gallipoli Letter

The Gallipoli Letter

Synopsis

The vivid, charged and emotional letter that changed the course of the Gallipoli campaign. In September 1915, Keith Murdoch, then a young war journalist, wrote an 8000 word letter to the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher. The Gallipoli Letter, as it came to be known, changed the course of the Gallipoli campaign. The letter, protesting against the conduct of the campaign and describing conditions at the front, is both intimate and conversational: 'I shall talk to you as if you were by my side...' It is also at times angry, passionate, vivid and very moving: 'Then in the early hours came the landing, when the life of man is at its lowest.' At times, it is simply heartbreaking: 'The heroic Fourth Brigade was reduced in three days' fighting to little more than 1000 strong. You will be glad to know that the men died well.' The letter changed the course of the campaign: Hamilton, the general in charge of the campaign, was sent home, and the Allies were withdrawn in December of the same year. The Gallipoli Letter is a wholly moving and inspiring document. It speaks directly to us about war, our history and the indomitable Australian spirit. Accessible and compelling, it should be read by everyone: students, historians, military history buffs, school children and readers in general. It is a vital part of our history and the enduring ANZAC legend.

Excerpt

As Australians, most of us think we know the story of Gallipoli. Some of us have even made the pilgrimage to Anzac Cove and had the emotional experience of standing there in the early morning light as the Last Post sounds. Some of us have watched Peter Weir’s affecting film from the early 1980s, Gallipoli. Many of us have studied it in Australian history lessons at school. But all of these experiences, as worthwhile as they must be, are in a very important way incomplete.

We can never really know what it was like, or what the troops went through, though each year on Anzac Day we salute their courage and determination and celebrate the spirit of the Anzacs.

It is in this regard that the Gallipoli Letter, written by young journalist Keith Murdoch to Andrew Fisher, the Australian prime minister at the time, is so important and I believe should be read by all Australians who seek to understand what it is that Anzac Day truly commemorates. It’s a passionate letter, driven by anger and a . . .

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