23 Apr 2009

They were there

I'd like to share with you two very special books from my bookshelf.

The first of them, The Anzac Book, belonged to Jemimah's Great Great Grandmother. It was given to her by her daughter, my Grandmother, Elsie.

To Mother
From Elsie
With love.
October 1918.

Here's the Editor's Note from the book:

This book of Anzac was produced in the lines at Anzac on Gallipoli in the closing weeks of 1915. Practically every word in it was written and every line drawn beneath the shelter of a waterproof sheet or of a roof of sandbags - either in the trenches or, at most, well within the range of the oldest Turkish rifle, and under daily visitations from the smallest Turkish field-piece. Day and night, during the whole process of its composition, the crack of the Mauser bullets overhead never ceased. At least one good soldier that we know of, who was preparing a contribution for these pages, met his death while the work was still unfinished.

The ANZAC BOOK was to have been a New Year Magazine to help this little British Australasian fraternity in Turkey to while away the long winter in the trenches. The idea originated with Major S. S. Butler, of the A.N.Z.A.C. Staff. On his initiative and that of Lieutenant H. E. Woods a small committee was formed to father the magazine. A notice was circulated on November 11th calling for contributions front the whole population of Anzac. Any profit was to go to patriotic funds for the benefit of the Army Corps.

Between November 15th and December 8th, when the time for the sending in of contributions closed, The ANZAC BOOK was produced. As drawings and paintings began to come in, disclosing the whereabouts of some of the talent which existed in Anzac, a small staff of artists was collected in order to produce head - and tail -pieces and a few illustrations; and a dug-out overlooking Anzac Cove became the office of the only book ever likely to be produced in Gallipoli.

It was after the contributions had been finally sent in, and when the work of editing was in full swing, that there came upon most of us front the sky the news that Anzac was to be evacuated. Such finishing touches as remained to be added after December 19th were given to the work in Imbros. The date for the publication was necessarily delayed. And it was realised by everyone that this production, which was to have been a mere pastime, had now become hundred times more precious as a souvenir. Certainly no book has ever been produced under these conditions before.

This precious book is a souveneir of Australia's baptism of fire at Gallipoli. It is impossible for me to read it without admiring the incredible bravery of these men - the brave soldiers who were there for the tragic campaign in the Dardenelles. Two thirds of Australia's fighting men were killed or wounded in the Great War. I wonder how many of The ANZAC book's contributors survived. With this book I remember them.

The ANZAC Book is online in its entirety here.

The second book, Australia in Palestine, belonged to Jemimah's Great Great Grandfather.

To: Mr Hugh Reid
Via Yackandandah
From: R G Reid

From the Editor's note:

Australia in Palestine is in no sense intended as a complete picture of the Australians' part in the Great Campaign. It is merely a Soldiers' Book, produced almost entirely by soldiers in the field under active service conditions to send to their friends in Australia and abroad.

The Palestine campaign began with the crossing of the Suez Canal by the Anzac Mounted Division at Kantara on 23rd April 1916, to reoccupy land that had been taken by the Turks. The operations concluded with the Charge of Beersheba and the later capture of Damascus and Aleppo resulting in the complete surrender of the Turkish forces.

You can see a little of the action here:

One of the characters in the film depicted in the video, The Lighthorsemen, is my grandfather, Sloan 'Scotty' Bolton. More about him tomorrow.


  1. Jeanne, those books are amazing! What wonderful resources to have. I need to get my father or my uncle to write something about our family history for my blog. Maybe about Poor Mozart!

  2. Oh my, what a fascinating book [first one]. Surely that's pretty rare these days? They all look interesting.
    FYI--I have NOT previewed this [B is old enough to deal with it when it's a Nature episode] but PBS Online has a full episode on skunks here:

  3. How lovely to have an heritage on your bookshelf!! And here I thought my books were precious; yours much more so. I would love to have something so touching to share with my children someday!!

    Cannot wait to read more!!

  4. Great post Jeanne, I must find some New Zealand books for Anzac Day. I'm going to bake some Anzac ccokies too and my older two girls are sleeping over at church then going to the Dawn Parade in the morning.


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