Blank Pages Along the Beach: Soldiers’ Diaries of the Gallipoli Campaign

“The herdsmen wandering by the lonely rills, marks where they lie on the scarred mountain flanks. Remembering that mild morning when the hills shook to the roar of guns, and those wild Franks surged upward from the sea.”[1]

The ANZAC Book

As morning broke on Sunday April 25th 1915, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), British, French, Indian, Irish, and Senegalese troops awoke before the sun to prepare for the imminent battle.[2] Many soldiers described an eerie scene of a light mist covering the motionless glassy water. Massive metal ships and thousands of soldiers prepared for the coming carnage. Hills peeked out above the mist concealing the slender Turkish coast. As the sun began to rise over the hills in the east, the coast “emerges… [from] the hollow of a bay like an enormous globe of blood-red fire,” exposing the jagged terrain of the shore, teeming with Allied forces digging in and clearing the brush.[3] Australian soldier Ormund Burton describes the first morning of the battle as the scene unfolded from the boats: “Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers glided slowly up and down, every gun that could be brought to bear belched flame and smoke as they sent broadside after broadside crashing into the Turkish positions.”[4] The eight-month Battle of Gallipoli, known in Turkish as the Çanakkale Savaşı (Battle of Çanakkale), was fought to decided the fate for control over the peninsula and the greater Ottoman Empire.

The rocky Gallipoli peninsula is roughly 40 miles long and 11 miles across at its widest point, and controls the Dardanelles Straits. The peninsula tends to be rockier and more rugged at the coastline creating a harder terrain to siege and control. In contrast the World War II invasion of Normandy, France, fought nearly 30 years later, the majority of the landing forces at Gallipoli did not have larges beaches to unload on and cover in a short amount of time.[5] The complex terrain and opposition from the Turks made large advances of the front line rare for the Allies, as the distance from the beach to the combat lines was never greater than 900 meters.[6] In several places, the distance between the improvised trenches spanned little more than four meters, bringing the combatants face-to-face, creating a much more visceral aggression towards each other. The hills shot straight up and dense underbrush covered the advance of the Turkish soldiers, while bullets rained upon the ANZAC soldiers. Australian Private Harold Gordon Craig describes the conditions during the initial landing at Gallipoli as “so rough and scrubby that [it was hard to] see where you were going. [The] shrapnel was bursting all round us and the bullets were so thick that we thought they were bees buzzing about us.”[7]

Allied soldiers at the Battle of Gallipoli, and elsewhere, wrote of their experiences in diaries, letters sent home, and in memoirs. New Zealand trumpeter Alfred Edward Cameron writes at the beginning of his diary, “I write these lines hoping that they will be interesting to those at home.”[8] Cameron’s words “at home” leaves room for interpretation. [was probably that his diary would shed light on his life for friends and family]. Diaries create a direct window by detailing the hardships on the front line and provide a safe medium to emotionally decompress and process. Diaries can be used as personal indicators of conditions and experiences, which vary based on a soldier’s location. In the Gallipoli Campaign, the total distance separating the three major combat zones – ANZAC beach, Cape Helles, and Kum Kale – was fifteen miles. The topography of each zone presented specific threats and challenges. Each platoon had to assess what military units refer to as OCOKA: observation, cover and concealment, obstacles, key terrain, and avenues of approach. In short, OCOKA references military considerations for tactical mission movements.

In the field of World War I studies, there has been an emphasis on the Western European theatre and the use of journals and personal correspondences have been instrumental in understanding the effects of war on soldiers. Yet, these documents still do not play a role in the greater historiography of World War I in the Western terrain. In contrast, if we consider more transnational WWI studies, which include the Gallipoli Campaign, journals and personal correspondences have resulted in larger-than life war heroes. Jay Winters study of mourning and loss writes that part of the healing process for communities is through sites of commemoration and memorialization.[9] World War I became a true global war as Allied and Axis soldiers fought all over the globe for their home nations and their subsequent colonies.

My paper privileges the writings of ANZAC soldiers and a medic, as well as a French doctor, and examines the camaraderie, trials, and loss experienced by the Allied soldiers. My intention is to create a dialogue wherein Allied soldiers of the Gallipoli campaign tell their stories of the trials and tribulations against natural threats, Axis soldiers, and biological enemies. By examining these specific journals one can begin to form a more rounded picture of everyday life for someone faced with the daily hellish conditions on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Working through the Diary of a Soldier (Methodology)

Diaries and journals for the Allied soldier experiences are readily available and numerous on national online databases which have published thousands of personal journals.[10] The centennial mark for the April 25th invasion brought about resurgence for interest of the conflict at Gallipoli in greater numbers than ANZAC day typically does in Australia. ANZAC Day, April 25th, is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand celebrating the military and their history originally commemorating the soldiers who served at Gallipoli. While this is always a big day, much like Veterans Day in America, it experienced a higher relevance and an influx of new research in 2015 as it was the centennial celebration of the campaign. Websites created easier access to diaries, and the memorials around Australia and New Zealand gave those interested an avenue to delve into their military history as a nation. Turkish diaries are available, but in much smaller amounts given most Gallipoli veterans were sent to fight in the Caucasus or Syrian-Palestinian fronts and many of their writings were seized or destroyed.[11] While it is not a diary, the classic fiction novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), written by Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), tells the story of a German soldier, Paul Bäumer, on the Western Front and his encounters throughout the war.

Remarque, who was a German veteran of World War One, depicts the experiences of soldiers and the brutality accompanied by the shift in battle strategies from firing lines to trench warfare. The visceral detail of skirmishes in Remarque’s novel and the description of beachfront battles in the diaries by Gallipoli soldiers establish a longitudinal dialogue between both theatres. Australian Corporal Archibald Barwick’s diary can be used as a direct correlation to Remarque’s novel.[12] He describes an account in the trench as “In spite of [the Turks] furious charges we held it at one time. There were only three of us left alive holding about 30 yards of trench. I thought the end had come, and was quite prepared to sell my life as dearly as I could.”[13] Barwick’s description is remarkably similar to Remarque’s novel as Bäumer describes the bombings and defense of tactical positions. “The sun goes down, night comes, the shells whine, life is at an end,” reflects Bäumer, “Still the little piece of convulsed earth in which we lie is held. We have yielded no more than a few hundred yards to the enemy, but on every yard there lies a dead man.”[14] In short, the relation between Barwick’s writing and Remarque’s novel establishes a common experiential lived reality between the Western Front and the Gallipoli campaign.

The majority of personal narrative analysis for the paper relies heavily on Barwick’s experiences, due to the fact that he was on the peninsula for the entirety of the campaign. Barwick gives his readers a near daily analysis of the war beginning in his training on August 22nd, 1914 through his final entry on January 26th, 1919. The near ritualistic constancy of entries created by Barwick gives readers a clear look into the psyche of a soldier experiencing Gallipoli in its entirety. As for the remaining diaries they were selected and used in a manner intended to build up specific points and strengthen similarities between Remarque’s novel and Gallipoli.

Soldiers were constantly kept alert and needed to remain ever vigilant as New Zealand trumpeter Alfred Edward Cameron describes in his person diary, “We are expecting another attack tonight so we are sleeping in full equipment.”[15] Remarque writes repeatedly of Baumer experiencing similar strife to Cameron’s as he explained the heightened senses of fear and caution during the night, “I am still afraid, but it is an intelligent fear, an extraordinarily heightened caution.”[16] Similarly Aussie engineer, Thomas Edward Drane, detailed the first night of the siege as he wrote, “Things would be fairly quiet, with the searchlights playing about from the war ship. When one of the boys would fancy he saw something move, and would let fly. That would start all the line blazing away. We had no rest for our nerves were too high strung to rest and we had to just keep banging away.”[17]

The journals of medics offer a slightly different viewpoint to war from those soldiers ensnared in the heat of battle constantly fighting to survive. Often medics are having to fight as well, but their day-to-day task of attempting to save the lives of injured soldiers and seeing the true carnage of war gives readers a new look into the many faces battles can reveal.

Understanding the Eastern Front (Historiography)

During the eight and a half month conflict on the Turkish peninsula, spanning from April 25th 1915 until January 9th 1919, 503,000 casualties had been recorded. [18] After such great loss of life, the reality is that soldiers’ lives were less as praise for a sacrificial lamb, but more as lambs blindly being brought to slaughter. By January of 1916 the Turks remained in control of the Gallipoli peninsula, and the Allied forces had proven unsuccessful in taking Constantinople and creating a southern route to supply Russia.[19] After losing 187,959 dead and wounded soldiers in battle, along with an estimated 64,000 soldiers to disease, the Allied forces withdrew their forces from the region.[20] The number of soldiers killed at Gallipoli varies, but historian Cecil Faber indicates the loss of life due to direct combat around 113,000 between the Allies and Axis.[21]

English historian John Keegan begins his book The First World War presenting the idea that the Second World War was a direct outcome of the first. Keegan argues the loss of ten million lives, the emotional torture of millions more, and the destruction of optimism and generous European culture, all combined to create a deep rooted racial animosity between groups that simply cannot be ignored when talking about the foundations of World War II.[22] When viewing the chapter headings of Keegan’s book it becomes apparent the wide-ranging historiography surrounding World War I is almost completely Eurocentric and focused on the Western Front.

Keegan’s first chapter creates a stark contrast to the title of World War I when he begins the book with a chapter entitled, “A European Tragedy.” Keegan’s chapter “The Battle of the Frontiers” reinforces the focus only on the European theater, before finally acknowledging the world theater in chapter seven. The seventh chapter is titled “The War Beyond the Western Front,” but once again the key phrasing ties the focus back to Europe. In this chapter, containing only 50 pages, Keegan attempts to cover the conflicts in: Germany’s African and Atlantic colonies, the Middle East, Asia, Serbia, Salonika, and Gallipoli. The large European powers were the main points of influence during the war, and the poor Ottoman’s, ANZAC’s and other Mediterranean countries served merely as pawns for the Germans, English, and French.

The conflict of World War I did not originate in the Ottoman Empire, but the wide grasping fingers of German foreign policy gripped the peninsula and brought Western Europe to the Mediterranean. German historian Fritz Fischer felt the foundations for the Great War greatly were paralleled by the Nazi motivations to incite the Second World War. Fischer argued the German ‘will to war’, the desire for expansion, and the fear of foreign policy all played into the aggression, in turn creating the first global war.[23] German relations with their neighbors leading up to the war could be seen as one of arrogance and pugnacious armament. During the early 1900’s the German leader, Kaiser William II (1859-1941), advocated for a foreign policy called Weltpolitik, which encouraged Germany to take part in imperialist politics along with the other world powers, like England, Spain, and France.[24]

In William II’s 1901 speech entitled “A Place in the Sun,” he advocated German utilization of a policy of aggressive diplomacy, the creation of a strong national navy, and the procurement of international colonies.[25] William II stated Germans “have conquered for [themselves] a place in the sun” and planned to move ahead with plans to expand the empire through his aggressive foreign policy.[26] Kaiser William II was so confident of German strength that a plan to build a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad, an Ottoman controlled territory at the time of World War I. The alliance between the Germans and Ottomans was intended to bolster the transnational strength and presence in the Balkan’s, as well as reinforce political influence Middle East.[27]

During the late 19th century and early 20th century officers and generals were the people in power simply because they had the training and resources to protect the nation. Daniel Goffman brings forth the argument that due to the Eurocentric nature of the majority of history, the Ottoman’s are “All too often [characterized],… an assumption of inferiority, of uncivilized savagery (such as the convention if hackneyed argument that plunder was the exclusive stimulus for Ottoman empire-building.)”[28] Goffman argues the creation of an aggressive Ottoman persona was the Eurocentric view of the region and the fear of “the Ottoman’s with their menacing and seemingly ‘demonic religion’ and ‘savage nomadic ways.’”[29] After years of control in the Baltic region the Ottoman Empire began to degrade and decline in strength and influence, even becoming known as the “Sick man of Europe” amongst the Europeans and Russians.[30]

The large European powers were the main points of influence during the war, and the poor Ottoman’s, ANZAC’s and other Mediterranean countries served merely as pawns for the Germans, English, and French. Kings College professor William Philpott promotes the historical view of the Ottoman Empire as nothing more than a dinner fowl waiting to be carved up by the European juggernauts. Philpott explains that the Western European powers did little to recognize the Ottoman’s, let alone any other ruling nations outside of the continent, but rather felt that they were superieor and these nations would be easily subjected by their forces. In his book War of Attrition, Philpott writes, “France and Britain finally acceded to long-held Russian demands to control the [Dardanelles] straits (in return for Russian recognition of her allies’ territorial claims elsewhere in the Middle East).”[31] This agreement happened in 1915 while the Ottoman Empire controlled this region, before the fighting of the Gallipoli campaign had even begun. Charles D. Smith states, “much of the historiography of the period,…has focused on the intentions of the imperial states that took over the Arab lands that were still Ottoman in 1914.”[32]

The Allied arrogance towards the Ottoman Empire and their army is important because of the manner in which those in power approached the campaign. The feeling that the Western European powers would just waltz into the Mediterranean and the Ottoman’s would just lay down their guns and surrender was a complete fallacy. The fact that mens lives were surrendered due to the unwary preparation of those in power takes presidence for the egotistical approach towards war by the Allies.

Camaraderie Along the Beach Front

The bonds created by soldiers are a major topic addressed throughout many of the diaries, as men realized they were not only fighting for their own lives and country, but also for the survival of the man next to them. It was this camaraderie, and shared survival instinct, which motivated them to keep fighting day in and day out. Gallipoli offered a greatly different challenge for its combatants from that of the Western Front’s trench warfare, and frankly varied significantly from the encounters and experiences by many others before them. The unyielding terrain accompanied by unpredictable weather patterns during the summer and winter months, created an enemy for both sides which needed to be addressed in itself. Soldiers quickly learned that the enemy was not always the man firing from their positions across the battle lines. If the men were to survive then they needed their brothers-in-arms to help, and this shared experience is the focus of many diaries.

Many soldiers felt that the need to surrender personal comfort in order to keep their mates safe. “I had no water at all today for a bullet had penetrated my water bottle & let it all out but I was not the only one in that state,” explained Barwick, “most of the chaps had emptied their water bottles to keep the machine guns going, that’s the sort of spirit they fought with, went thirsty themselves rather than let the machine gun get to hot to work.”[33] The motivation to surrender water could be due to the fact that if a soldier gets shot a full canteen will not be able to help or protect them.

One example of the camaraderie shared between two soldiers was the story of Australian soldiers Jack Reid and Les Dinning. Reid was shot during the second day of the peninsula assault, and tried to convince Dinning to leave him stating he now was rendered useless. Dinning did not leave Ried’s side, but rather provided field aid before dragging him back to the medical station in order to receive care. Reid felt Dinning had “undoubtedly saved my life by his promptness in rendering first aid and in getting me quickly to the base & by doing which he had risked his own life.”[34]

The Aussie engineer discussed earlier, Thomas Edward Drane, detailed an experience in the field that claimed his leg, and decapitated his friend Cecil. Drane explains an advance toward the Turks with two others soldiers. Drane tells the reader that when the three soldiers came to a rest he felt unnerved in their position as that spot would easily be targeted. No sooner than Drane went to light up his cigarette did a shell rip through the area and take out his knee. As he explains it “The cap, or fuse, hit me fair in the knee, I let out an oath, for it carried the kneecap away. I then look around to see who else was hit, and here is poor Cecil Howlett with his head blow[n] off, what a shock I received, it was worse than my own wound to me, and here is Cookie not touched.”[35] Drane also described the scene on the beach and commented on the uncertainly soldiers felt as when they might “wait [their] turn to go away wounded.”[36]

“The beach is full of wounded waiting to get away to hospital. Just fancy some of the finest men lying there maimed through no fault of their own, all for honour and love of country that reared them. We never know how soon we may be there too waiting our turn to go away wounded.”[37]

The visceral reality of the war is what is captured and relayed in the diaries and journals of soldiers, chaplains, and commanders.

ANZAC soldier, and post-war biographer, Ormond Burton’s diary is another example of a diary which allows readers to grasp the vast differences combatants encountered on Gallipoli, as opposed to the trenches of the Western front. The summer months created trouble with dehydration and fatigue for troops as temperatures soared, and humidity compounded problems for sanitation and health. During the winter months the weather tended to swing the opposite direction, as winds, snow, and rain pummeled the soldiers creating struggles related to cold, exposure, and hypothermia.

The dramatic shifts in the weather and seasons created one problem, but the living conditions, primitive at best and offering little shelter from the elements, created other issues for forces to address. Burton detailed the living conditions for ANZAC fighters, stating often two soldiers dug a trench together into the side of a hill or slope in an attempt to create some kind of cover from the elements, enemy fire, and flying shrapnel. Some men fastened pieces of tin and bayonets together in order to create a roof in hopes of providing cover from the morning dew and mid-day sun. Burton painted a vivid picture of life for the co-habitants in the foxholes when he wrote “As soon as the work was finished the flies and the lice – the permanent residents – took up their abode, while the casual boarders such as centipedes and soldiers strayed in from time to time as opportunity offered.”[38]

The Gallipoli campaign is often overshadowed by the Western front, but the hindrances of malnutrition, poor sanitation, and as a result of both rampant diseases created problems for the men seen far less often in the heart of Europe. Diseases such as Typhoid fever, dysentery, and diarrhea were major killers on the Gallipoli peninsula due to the lack of fresh water and the in ability to clean ones self on a regular basis. These illnesses did claim the lives of soldiers on the Western front as well, but the numbers are far greater in proportion during the eight-month siege of the peninsula. Poor living conditions increased the problems of sickness greatly as bodies of the dead laid baking and decaying in the searing summer sun.

“The piece of ground opposite us was literally covered with dead bodies, our own boys and Turks. God knows what our losses were, must have run into a few thousands,” explained Barwick after the first three days of battle.[39] With losses like that in the early days of the operation, the decay of bodies baking in the sun became a problem quickly. Francis Twisleton was a Kiwi soldier who described the stench of the rotting bodies as so strong and commanding, “I felt as though I could scrape the smell of dead men out of my mouth and throat and stomach in chunks.”[40] Cameron describes in his journal the creation of a brief armistice arranged between the combatants in order to properly bury the dead, “The bodies have been lying a long while and are beginning to small dreadfully.”[41]

With the casualties piling up in no-mans-land, smaller enemies like flies created the perfect delivery system for transmitting diseases between the living and the dead, and affected the most victims in the shortest amount of time. Infection created a major route for illness to quickly take hold, as soldiers were unable to wash and treat simple scratches or bug bites these would often become the source of further sickness. Routine hygiene measures, such as washing hands, boiling water for purifying and drinking, keeping relatively clean, and eating a proper diet, were not options available for the soldiers. Access to these types of activities, however,  may have improved resistance to many diseases and may have prevented others all together.

Misappropriation of Force

Bulgaria entering the war on the side of the Central Powers, meant the Allies needed to begin a second assault in the Mediterranean, therefore requiring the appropriation of troops and reinforcements away from the Gallipoli peninsula to focus most of the efforts in Salonika.[42] Upon opening another front in Greece British General Charles Monro and Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener relayed to British General, and commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Ian Hamilton that the abandonment of the operatio might be needed as reinforcements were required in areas deemed to have a chance of victory. Hamilton wrote in his personal journal that such a move would: “Make the Dardanelles into the bloodiest tragedy of the world!”[43]

The addition to the war of Bulgaria created stress on the Allies as the Germans now held a direct line of supply to the Ottoman’s through Bulgarian territory.[44] The new stream of support from the Germans meant the Ottomans were renewed with artillery, aircraft, and crews to wreak havoc on the Allied trenches throughout the peninsula, but most heavily at ANZAC Beach.[45] The ability to gain not only reinforcements from the Germans, but also hard goods and ammunition certainly gave the Ottoman’s the edge over the Allies as autumn began to shift from the warm nights of summer and into the cold darkness of winter. As the Ottoman’s began getting support from both the Germans and Austro-Hungarians, Monro knew the siege of the penninsula was all but lost. After inspecting the three landing zones, ANZAC beach, Suvla, and the Helles and speaking with the commanding officers at each he decided it best to begin evacuation plans for the Allied forces.

December saw the weather all but turn on the Allies, as their exposed positions were only made worse during the torrents of rain which carried unburied corpses into the trenches and drowned others, all before the snow came down and killed more soldiers from exposure.[46] In the end the Allies evacuated from the peninsula by December 1915, and the remaining soldiers, who occupied the Helles, were evacuated by the beginning of January 1916. The conflict was over and the Ottoman’s had successfully defended their territory, as well as protected their capital from Allied invasion, symbolizing the final stand of the Ottoman Empire before its dissolution just six years later.

Handwriting, Tone, and Blank Pages

While the soldiers found solace in their brothers to distract from the monotony of battle, the mental wear of losing a close friend began to wear on their psyche. The degradation of men begins from the first day, but as British Army’s Grenadier Guard Carroll Carstairs writes in his autobiography A Generation Missing, “In the beginning war is adventure. Then comes war-weariness, a period of adjustment. You stick it or give up. The third phase is an acceptance, a resignation, and a surrender to faith. The brave man is the man who gets through to the third phase”[47]

The ability to physically see the handwriting of soldiers which dated over 100 years now creates a story of its own between the writer and the reader. This point cannot be ignored when studying the diaries and journals of the Great War. Reading Cameron’s personal diary of the battle it becomes apparent that as the days go by the mental wear Carstairs describes becomes visible. This shift for Cameron appears through his handwriting, and reveals itself as his mind is taxed more and more. Cameron’s writing continues to degrade to the point where he simply carves the death of his friend into his journal, “My cobber George… dead. Killed August 7th. Bullet through the head. Buried Taylors Hollow.”[48] After this entry the rest of Cameron’s journal remains empty, and not much information is known about the remainder of his life. Cameron’s great-granddaughter left a comment on his on-line centograph page for the Auckland War Memorial Museum simply stating that he was one of the few to return from the campaign.[49]

This information about Cameron, while seeming unimportant at first glance, creates a hollowing feeling for readers of his diary. The final twelve pages are left blank, as the reader ponders what burdens this young man’s mind suffers, and the loss he feels which cannot be articulated and put down on paper. Historian Jay Winter addresses the topic of mourning and commemoration in his book Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning, and would argue that Camron was simply moving through his process of mourning the loss of his friend and fellow soldiers.

Archie Barwick detailed the major loss of his own as he etched the log on October 28th, 1916,

“This afternoon I found out where the 12th Battalion were camped, over in Ypres in the Belgian Barracks. So I went over to see Stan, strange to say I had a dread of enquiring for him, something seemed to tell me that I would hear bad news. I was not very far out. You can imagine what kind of a shock I got when they told me he had been killed. The world seemed to stand still for a few seconds. I nearly fell, but I recovered my balance and forced myself to keep quiet.”[50]

Stan Barwick was Archie’s younger brother who had enlisted in 1916. While this loss occurred at the Battle of the Ypres in the Western Front, Barwick’s loss is still a relevant and sobering factor for him. After this entry Barwick expresses fear for himself and Les, his other younger brother who was serving in the same battalion. Barwick then transitions into an emotional rage as he writes, “I’m out for revenge for the future, and God help the German that comes into my hands.”[51] The representation of revenge and utter rage upon hearing of his brother’s death brings readers back to the realization of loss and heartbreak for these soldiers, as opposed to the reactionary, kill-or-be-killed, nature shown earlier in Archie’s entries. Barwick further explains that the ones at home would likely mourn the loss of Stan, but his way of mourning appears to be revenge as a way to cope with losing his brother. Again Winter speaks to Barwick’s process moving from, “the shock of discovery, through the painful effort to understand what had happened, to the acceptance of their loss.”[52]

When viewing the inscriptions from Cameron’s journal next to Barwick’s there is one noticeable and important detail, which appears unimportant at first. The dynamic of personal handwriting begins to shift in Cameron’s journal from beginning to end. While Cameron’s handwriting does not read as clearly as Barwick’s, there is a noticeable degradation as the reader moves though his journal. This can easily resemble the breakdown of Cameron’s psyche finally resulting in the remainder of his journal being left blank. One might also argue that the shift in Cameron’s writing could be a direct result of battle fatigue or the inability to find time to write, but this point would be countered by fact that even after the war Cameron’s final pages remain vacant. The importance of visually inspecting the handwriting of soldiers brings in another dynamic to the decoding of journals. When text is printed or typed out it can take out some of the tone or feeling from writing, but physical handwriting can convey a story of its own while readers can physically see the change in style. Handwriting can also deliver details about the environment in which the diary entries were written. If it had been raining there might have been dried droplets on the pages or it could be possible that dirt particles could have been captured in the pages had the writer dropped the book in an emergency.

The mental shift regarding the sanctity of life can be seen when observing Archie Barwick’s journal and placing that in a direct juxtaposition to Remarque’s telltale segment where Bäumer instinctively stabs at a figure that fall into his hole. During the first three days of the battle Barwick explains an Allied advance into the Turk lines and then the repercussive response. “I don’t remember much about it, but I can recollect driving the bayonet into the body of one fellow quite clearly, and he fell right at my feet. When I drew the bayonet out, the blood spurted from his body, the next thing I remember is being back in the trench.”[53] Barwick appears almost in a daze after his first hand-to-hand experience, but his next journal entry shows the mental shift during the next charge of the Turks, “I had the great luck to get another unspeakable this time, I was hot foot after him, he tripped and fell, before he could rise I had the bayonet right through him, and he died without a struggle.”[54] The change in Barwick’s demeanor towards this interaction shows the adjustment to the reality of war as he begins to understand that after this point it truly is a kill-or-be-killed environment. Barwick’s second entry about killing a Turk reflects the dehumanization of the enemy as he refers to his victim and the act simply as an unspeakable. The dehumanization would provide the disconnect needed for a soldier to justify killing another person in combat.

Bäumer exemplifies this transition in morality as he is trapped in a no-man’s-land shell hole during a fire fight and must react when a shadow drops into the same hole, “Just as I am about to turn around a little, something heavy stumbles, and with a crash a body falls over me into the shell-hole, slips down, and lies across me. I do not think at all, I make no decision- I strike madly at home and feel only how the body suddenly convulses, then becomes limp, and collapses.”[55] Bäumer’s reactionary response creates the feeling of an individual who has been completely transformed by their situation, but the subsequent pages show that his humanity has never left him. Bäumer at first attempts to smother the soldier in order to remain hidden, but then begins to show remorse for his actions when attempting to triage his enemy. All Quiet on the Western Front creates a dialogue that serves to incorporate the struggles of the Gallipoli soldiers in direct relation from the Western front to Mediterranean theater, and account for the humanistic traits of grief and remorse.

 The majority of diaries and journals do not mention hostages or civilians in any way creating a narrow viewpoint of anyone else involved as solely the enemy. French doctor Joseph Marguerite Jean Vassal sheds an alternative viewpoint towards the inhabitants and the evacuation of Allied forces from the Mediterranean area in his letters home to his wife. In December of 1915 Vassal is stationed in a Macedonian city by the name of Ghevgeli, which is roughly 60 miles north of the Aegean port city of Salonika.[56] Vassal explains to his wife that he knows the Bulgarian soldiers are moving towards the city and its inhabitants are flowing out in efforts to save their own lives. The allied forces had been instructed to not leave anything in the hands of the Bulgarians and therefore had begun to set the town on fire.

As Vassal rides his horse through the nearby abandoned town, and he describes a feeling of, “Death indeed is coming.”[57] The remaining inhabitants scavenge for food and the children “have succeeded in pulling out a few blackened logs” and drag them through the streets like play toys.[58] The fact Dr. Vassal felt the need to note these thoughts in his journal, draws upon the reader’s emotions much like Cameron’s final journal entries. Journal entries like these exemplify these are not just stoic statues who feel nothing, and express no sympathy for their fellow humans, but rather compassionate and volatile beings experiencing the atrocities of war.

Memories and Mourning

The Gallipoli Campaign may have ended in January of 1916, but the stories and experiences of those soldiers who were there will never fade or go away. Memorials have been created on the beaches of the peninsula, throughout Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey, and the journals of those who fought can now be visited with ease for any who should want to explore the experiences. As Jay Winter noted, “The construction, dedication, and repeated pilgrimages to war memorials in the interwar years proves a ritual expression of their bereavement.”[59]

The stories created by soldiers bring forth the true story of Gallipoli through the eyes of those who fought, bled, and died on that rocky ground like none other can, because none others were there. Soldiers needed to rely on their brothers-in-arms for survival and only together were they able to come home again. The stories of camaraderie, emotion, and loss create the grander picture which is the Gallipoli Campaign. As Gariepy noted in the dedication of his book the soldiers at Gallipoli fought in “a campaign that could not have been won, in a place most had never heard of, against an enemy who would rather have been their friend.”[60]

As Remarque concluded,

“Now if we go back we will be weary, broken, burnt out, rootless, and without hope. We will not be able to find out way any more….We will be superfluous even to ourselves, we will grow older, a few will adapt themselves, some others will merely submit, and most will be bewildered;- the years will pass by and in the end we shall fall into ruin.”[61]

The Gallipoli soldiers often were met with the same fate upon their return home as they struggled to find their place in this changed world for unless they had been there people would never understand their struggles and pain.


Primary Resources

Barwick, Archibald. Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 22 August, 1914-September 1915. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Barwick, Archibald. Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 21 September 1917-4 March 1918. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Best, Kenneth, and Gavin Roynon. A Chaplain at Gallipoli: The Great War Diaries of Kenneth Best. London: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Burton, Ormond E. The Silent Division: New Zealanders at the Front, 1914-1919. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935.

Cameron, Alfred Edward. “Alfred Edward Cameron Diary 13 August, 1914- 31 May 1915.” Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand. Accessed March 14, 2016.—diary–13-Aug-1914-31-May-1915/MSX-2853.

Craig, Harold Gordon. “Letter home to his brother on May 18, 1915.” Australians at War, Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Accessed March 14, 2016.

Drane, T. E. “Complete Anzac Gallipoli War Diary – By T.E.Drane.” Bushroots. Accessed February 29, 2016.

Hamilton, General Sir Ian. Gallipoli Diary. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1920.

Nevile, Hugh. “Gallipoli Diary of Hugh Nevile.” Edited by E. E. Hunt. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 82, 2004.

Reid, Jack. “There’s More Than One Type of Hero in War.” Australians at War. Accessed March 10, 2016.

Vassal, Joseph Marguerite Jean. Unsensored Letter from the Dardanelles: Notes of a French Army Doctor. London: William Heinemann, 1916.

Secondary Resources

Aspinall-Oglander, Cecil Faber. Military Operations Gallipoli: May 1915 to the Evacuation. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence II (Imperial War Museum and Battery Press ed.). London: Heinemann, 1932.

Auckland War Memorial Museum. “Alfred Edward Cameron.” Online Centrograph. Accessed March 28, 2016.

Australian War Memorial. The ANZAC Book. New South Wales: University of New South Wales Press 3rd edition, 2010.

Baldwin, Hanson. World War I: An Outline History. London: Hutchinson, 1962.

Bean, Charles E.W. Anzac to Amiens: A Shorter History of the Australian Fighting Services in the First World War. Canberra: Penguin Books, 1946.

Broadbent, Harvey. Gallipoli: The Fatal Shore. Camberwell, Victoria: Viking/Penguin, 2005.

Bullock, David L. “The Middle East” In Researching World War I: A Handbook, edited by Robin D. S. Higham and Dennis E. Showalter, 185-202. Westport, Conn : Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.

Carlyon, Les. Gallipoli. Sydney: Pan Macmillan, 2001.

Carstairs, Carroll. A Generation Missing. London: William Heinemann, 1930.

Cleveland, William L. and Matrin Bunton. A History of the Modern Middle East 5th Edition. Boulder: Westview Press, 2013.

Collins, Ross F. World War I: Primary Documents on Events from 1914-1919. London: Greenwood Press, 2008.

Cooter, Roger. Gallipoli: The Medical War. The Australian Army Medical Services in the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915, Modern History Series. Kensington, New South Wales: New South Wales University Press, 1993.

Crawford, J. A. B. “Twisleton, Francis Morphet,” in Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Accessed March 14, 2016.

Cunningham, Matthew. “Familiarising the Foreign: New Zealand Soldiers’ Observations on Landscape During the Gallipoli Campaign.” New Zealand Journal of History 45, no. 2, 2011.

Erickson, Edward. Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing, 2001.

Fischer, Fritz. Grasp for World Power: the War Aims Policy of Imperial Germany. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1968.

Gauss, Christian. The German Kaiser as Shown in His Public Utterances. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915.

Gilbert, Greg. “Air War Over the Dardanelles.” Wartime, Canberra: Australian War Memorial, vol. 61, 2013.

Goffman, Daniel. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Gariepy, Patrick. Gardens of Hell: Battles of the Gallipoli Campaign. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 2014.

Inside History. “Gallipoli: The Turkish Perspective- Turkish Soldiers’ Wartime Diaries.” Accessed April 30, 2016.

Keegan, John. The First World War. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

Macleod, Jenny. Reconsidering Gallipoli. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage. “Soldiers’ experience.” Accessed February 20, 2016.

Palmowski, Jan. Weltpolitik., A Dictionary of Contemporary World History. Accessed: February 28, 2016.

Philpott, William. War of Attrition: Fighting the First World War. New York: The Overlook Press, 2014.

Remarque, Erich Maria, and A. W. Wheen. All Quiet on the Western Front. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1929.

Scott, Ernest. A Short History of Australia, second edition. London: Oxford University Press, 1920.

Smith, Charles D. “The Historiography of World War I and the Emergence of the Contemporary Middle East,” Middle East Historiographies: Narrating the Twentieth Century. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006.

Unstead, R.J. A Century of Change. Edinburgh: A&C Black Publishers, 1963.

Williams, John. The ANZACS, the Media and the Great War. Sydney: UNSW Press, 1999.

Winters, Jay. Sites of Mourning, Sites of Memory. Cambridge, University of Cambridge Press, 1995.


[1] Australian War Memorial, The ANZAC Book, New South Wales: University of New South Wales Press 3rd edition, 2010.

[2] The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps will henceforth be referred to as ANZAC.

[3] Joseph Marguerite Jean Vassal, Unsensored Letter from the Dardanelles: Notes of a French Army Doctor, London: William Heinemann, 1916, 49.

[4] Ormond E. Burton, The Silent Division: New Zealanders at the Front, 1914-1919, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935.

[5] Normandy’s rocky cliffs are similar to the Gallipoli peninsula, the beaches in France were much larger and deeper than that of the shallow beaches in Gallipoli. Omaha Beach was nearly 300m deep from the shoreline to the cliffs.

[6] Ministry for Culture and Heritage, “Soldiers’ experience”, 30-Jul-2014 accessed February 20, 2016.

[7] Harold Gordon Craig, “Letter home to his brother on May 18, 1915,” Australians at War, Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 2001, accessed March 14, 2016,

[8] Alfred Edward Cameron, “Alfred Edward Cameron Diary 13 August, 1914- 31 May 1915,” Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, 4,—diary–13-Aug-1914-31-May-1915/MSX-2853.

[9] Jay Winters, Sites of Mourning, Sites of Memory (Cambridge, University of Cambridge Press, 1995), 6.

[10] Useful online databases include:,, and

[11] Inside History, “Gallipoli: The Turkish Perspective- Turkish Soldiers’ Wartime Diaries,” accessed April 30, 2016,

[12] The remainder of this paper will refer to Archibald Barwick as Archie. This is how his name appears throughout his journals so I will stay true to Barwick’s personal preference.

[13] Archibald Barwick, “Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 22 August 1914-11 September 1915,” Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, 157-158.

[14] Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, New York: Fawcett Books, 134-135.

[15] Cameron, “Alfred Edward Cameron Diary 13 August, 1914- 31 May 1915”, 50.

[16] Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 213.

[17] T.E. Drane, “Complete Anzac War Diary,” Bushroots, accessed February 29, 2016,

[18] Edward Erickson, Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing, 2001).

[19] Gallipoli has been a contested area since the Ottoman Empire seized control of the territory in Thrace, an area of southern Europe which now includes European Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece. Control of the area had gone back and forth between Ottoman and Byzantine control until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in May 1453.

[20] Cecil Faber Aspinall-Oglander, Military Operations Gallipoli: May 1915 to the Evacuation. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence II (Imperial War Museum and Battery Press ed.), (London: Heinemann, 1932).

[21] Ibid.

[22] John Keegan, The First World War (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 3.

[23] Fritz Fischer, Grasp for World Power: the War Aims Policy of Imperial Germany (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1968).

[24] Jan Palmowski, Weltpolitik, A Dictionary of Contemporary World History, Accessed: February 28, 2016,

[25] Christian Gauss, The German Kaiser as Shown in His Public Utterances (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), 181-183.

[26] R.J. Unstead, A Century of Change, (Edinburgh: A&C Black Publishers, 1963).

[27] R.J. Unstead, A Century of Change, (Edinburgh: A&C Black Publishers, 1963).

[28] Daniel Goffman, The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 5.

[29] Ibid.

[30] David L. Bullock, “The Middle East,” in Researching World War I: A Handbook, ed. Robin D. S. Higham and Dennis E. Showalter (Westport, Conn : Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003), 185.

[31] William Philpott, War of Attrition: Fighting the First World War (New York: The Overlook Press, 2014), 82.

[32] Charles D. Smith, “The Historiography of World War I and the Emergence of the Contemporary Middle East,” Middle East Historiographies: Narrating the Twentieth Century, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006), 40.

[33] Barwick, “Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 22 August 1914-11 September 1915,” 109-110.

[34] Jack Reid, “There’s More Than One Type of Hero in War,” Australians at War, accessed March 10, 2016,

[35] T.E. Drane, “Complete Anzac War Diary,” Bushroots, accessed February 29, 2016,

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ormond E. Burton, The Silent Division: New Zealanders at the Front, 1914-1919 (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935).

[39] Barwick, “Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 22 August 1914-11 September 1915,” 112.

[40] J. A. B. Crawford. “Twisleton, Francis Morphet”, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, accessed March 14, 2016.

[41] Cameron, “Alfred Edward Cameron Diary 13 August, 1914- 31 May 1915,” 52.

[42] Hanson Baldwin, World War I: An Outline History ( London: Hutchinson, 1962), 61 & 66.

[43] Patrick Gariepy, Gardens of Hell: Battles of the Gallipoli Campaign  (Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 2014), 282.

[44] Harvey Broadbent, Gallipoli: The Fatal Shore (Camberwell, Victoria: Viking/Penguin, 2005), 249 & 252.

[45] Greg Gilbert, “Air War Over the Dardanelles,” Wartime (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, vol. 61 2013), 47.

[46] Broadbent, Gallipoli: The Fatal Shore, 255 & 256.

[47] Carroll Carstairs, A Generation Missing (London: William Heinemann, 1930), 164.

[48] Cameron, “Alfred Edward Cameron Diary 13 August, 1914- 31 May 1915,” 56. Cobber is also a term used by the ANZAC’s to label someone’s friend.

[49] Auckland War Memorial Museum, “Alfred Edward Cameron,” Online Centrograph, accessed March 28, 2016,

[50] Archibald Barwick, “Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 21 September 1917-4 March 1918,” 83-84.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning, 6.

[53] Barwick, “Archibald A. Barwick Diary, 22 August 1914-September 1915,” 110-111.

[54] Ibid, 111-112.

[55] Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 216.

[56] Salonika, better known as Thessaloniki, was the chosen point in which the Allied forces chose to stage their focus against the Central powers after Bulgaria joined the war. Saloniki is a Greek port set on the northern shore of the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. The historical background of Thessaloniki can be seen structurally as evidence of each of the ruling empires in the region at one point in time, including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. Thessaloniki is also the central church in which Paul wrote to in the books 1st and 2nd Thessalonians.

[57] Vassal, Unsensored Letters from the Dardanelles, 240.

[58] Vassal, Unsensored Letters from the Dardanelles, 240.

[59] Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning, 6.

[60] Gariepy, Gardens of Hell. x.

[61] Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, 299.

Daniel Russell is a secondary education teacher and recent graduate of UCCS. Daniel specializes in World War I and II as well as genocide studies. “Blank Pages Along the Beach,” which served as his senior thesis, was recognized by the UCCS history department and awarded the 2016 Outstanding Senior Thesis. Daniel now teaches 7th grade social studies focused on the Eastern Hemisphere. Daniel is also a track coach and works for Runners Roost in downtown Colorado Springs.

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