Media release: Monday, 7 April 2008
Photographs of Australian troops at Gallipoli, taken by three young diggers in 1915, have been chosen by the National Archives of Australia as its April Find of the Month exhibit.
The photographs were taken between July and December 1915 by George Downes, Arthur James Cook and Henry James Lowe who were recruited in Sydney in September 1914. They were among 60 young men especially chosen from all branches of the New South Wales Government Railways to form the First Railway Supply Detachment, 11th Australian Army Service Corps.
'The photos, submitted for copyright registration in 1919, show Gallipoli from the soldiers' perspective,' says researcher Jane Ellis. 'I find it really moving that we are glimpsing what life was like at Gallipoli through the eyes of these young men.
'It really provides a human touch to an historical event, this story of three young railway employees, two clerks and a porter who joined up and went to war. To me it makes the Anzac story come alive. You feel as if you're there with them.'
The photographs include images of life in the trenches, Lord Kitchener and his generals, captured Turkish soldiers at Lone Pine, Anzac graves, hospital tents and supply depots.
The three men submitted an album of 41 photographs, entitled 'With the Camera at Anzac'. The pictures are marked with captions which include 'Dug-out life Anzac gully', 'Hell-Spit cemetery – Anzac', 'Unloading mules – Anzac beach', 'After a snowstorm November 1915' and 'Turkish prisoners taken at Lone Pine, August 1915'.
'One of the most exciting aspects of this find is that we can learn more about the three men from other parts of the National Archives collection,' said Ms Ellis. 'We have 376,000 online service records from World War I. They include those of Downes, Cook and Lowe, who were only 21 and 22 when they enlisted.'
The three men survived Gallipoli and went on to serve in France, England and the Middle East, before returning to Australia.
The April Find of the Month can be seen on the National Archives website and is also on display in the Canberra office.