Earlier this year we visited Te Papa Museum in Wellington and was captivated by the stories in the Gallipoli: The scale of War exhibition. The exhibition brought the stories of the New Zealanders who found themselves in a whole new world that they could never have expected as they landed on the beach in World War One.
Their stories give a small insight what it was like at Gallipoli. Although the portraits accompanying this blog capture the moment in time portrayed by the museum. The backgrounds have been altered to be far from the burrows and hills they faced in Gallipoli. They are pictured in the landscapes that they grew up in and fought for.
Lieutenant Colonel Percival Fenwich was one of the first Doctors ashore. It is said the sky was alight and on fire when he hit the beach. In the first 24 hours, he treated hundreds of fellow soldiers. He quickly set up a casualty station and tried to sort out systems and get more supplies as the casualties grew and grew.
Private Jack Dunn landed on the beach one of the fittest in his unit. However, in severe conditions and lack of a food he came down with pneumonia after the first brutal month of fighting. Still sick and not well he was sent back to the front line where he fell asleep at his post and was sentenced to death for endangering his fellow troops. The death sentence was overturned and instead of facing fire from his own he was sent back to face the bullets of the enemy.
Sergeant Cecil Malthus fought many times at Quinn’s post, one of the most exposed spots on the front line. He left Gallopoli the night before the last soldier left and headed to France for four months getting a taste of French warfare on the Western Front. In September 1916 he fought in the Battle of the Somme surviving the first day where 600 fellow New Zealanders died. 10 days later, he was wounded although he considered himself lucky as another 2000 New Zealanders would die in this period.
Nurse Lottie Le Gallais was one of ten nurses selected and left for Gallopoli eager to meet up with her brother Leddie who was stationed there. A few days before leaving she wrote to him, sharing news of her selection.
“..very proud I am to be on the staff. Goodness knows when you will get this letters, or when I will get one from you, perhaps we will meet first.”
It was not to be a happy ending with all of Lotties letters to be returned back to her. Leddie had been dead four months. Lotties hands tingled and everything began to move slow. She described the feeling as some trick of the mind.
On this ANZAC Day we remember those who have served and appreciate those that are currently serving our country in times of conflict and crisis. We respect and take pride in their service and reflect on their sacrifice. Lest We Forget.