Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gallipoli film fraud?

From Wiki. Australian military cemetery at the Quinn's Post site in Çanakkale. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Chris Pugsley has done much to give New Zealanders an assessment of where we stand in terms of the Anzac legend, and our differences with Australians over the commemoration. Now, comes news that the only film footage shot of the Gallipoli campaign -- may have been wrong for the past 95 years. (NZ Herald today).

A decades-old case of Anzac identity theft has been uncovered 95 years after the landings at Gallipoli.
Research into the only known film of the Anzac campaign has revealed that soldiers identified as Australians are New Zealanders and Irishmen.

New Zealand military historian Chris Pugsley, a lecturer at Britain's Sandhurst Military Academy, said the discovery highlighted New Zealanders' contributions and restored their rightful place in the Anzac story ...
Soldiers in a vivid trench fighting scene thought to have been of Australians were the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers at Suvla Bay, and soldiers shown carrying water through the trenches to the frontline at Quinn's Post were from the Wellington Infantry Battalion.

Mis-identification of the soldiers in Bean's film had been deliberate, and was done because of the need to show an Australian narrative, Dr Pugsley said.
It's upset the Australian War Memorial people ...

A HISTORICAL battle has erupted between old Anzac partners Australia and New Zealand over which country's soldiers are shown in rare footage of the Gallipoli campaign.

With the Anzac landing's 95th anniversary just three days away, New Zealand military historian Chris Pugsley has accused revered Australian War Memorial historian Charles Bean of deliberately misidentifying New Zealand and Irish soldiers as Australians ...

The Australian War Memorial defended Charles Bean, calling him ''a stickler for painstaking accuracy'' who ''went for the dull, unvarnished truth, always''.
Its head of military history, Ashley Ekins, says soldiers shown at Quinn's Post were New Zealanders, but Bean was not trying to mislead audiences who would have known from the uniforms they were not Australians.
 For the record, aside from the site being named after an Australian, I can find few references online which claim absolutely that Quinn's Post was purely an Aussie part of the campaign. The National Library of Australia says:
Quinn's Post was established by the New Zealanders and a small party of Australians on the first day of the landing as the Anzacs sought to capture Baby 700. The Australians took over the post on 26 April 1915. It became one of the most advanced and dangerous Anzac posts, the site of incessant Turkish bombardment and of some of the bloodiest encounters between the Anzacs and Turks at Gallipoli. Only 15 metres separated Anzac and Turkish troops at Quinn's. The post was named after Major Hugh Quinn who was killed on 29 May when leading a battle against a Turkish threat to recapture it. Bean viewed the Anzacs defence of the post as among their finest achievements.


  1. Not surprised (and no historical skin off my nose).
    I'd heard in lectures years ago that Charles Bean was too factual in his frontline reports early on in the war which was disturbing the public at home and causing unrest in the War Cabinet so he was severely restricted in the areas he was allowed to access, the frontline and trenches being well off-limits.
    He probably got footage of the Kiwis and Irish lads to send home - either deliberately or mistakenly identified as Aussies (although Bean was a smart chappy and would have recognised the uniforms).
    Another question would be was it Bean who wrongly identified the soldiers in the film or has it been misappropriated by propagandist leanings over 95 years?
    And is it going to hurt the Australian War Memorial to give ground and let someone else have a tiny glimmer of hope in claiming some of those lads as their own, after 95 years, in what was a disgusting bloodbath that achieved nothing except death?

  2. Cheers, Jayne. I've yet to actually see either the film, or whatever narrative Bean put with it in the first place. I think the AWM are most upset by the inference that Bean was a bad and one-eyed historian. I'd like to see, for myself, exactly what description he gave to the film.

  3. I knew men who fought at Quinn's ... New Zealanders of the Wellington and Canterbury Battalions. I interviewed them in the early 1990s as part of a high school project. .

  4. Yes, I was thinking back over that myself, Lisa, and it's probably the inference that Bean isn't the 110% reliable, completely factual historian he's always been portrayed as being.
    Having said that, though, the amount of propaganda and deliberate mis-information bandied about at the time could have resulted in an innocent mistake.
    Which shouldn't be compounded by the AWM refusing to accept a possible error and investigating it in a mature manner.

  5. Thanks for that, Anonymous.

    The research is due out later this year, so I understand, Jayne. It will be interesting to see what it says.

  6. Anonymous, Is there any chance to read on interviews with the Quinn's Post survivors ?

  7. You could try looking for Quinn's Post, by Peter Stanley (2005) which is said to have used personal accounts of the soldiers involved there.