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Film 'Gallipoli'

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phil andrade
Posted (edited)

Ken Burns’s series about the ACW had much the same impact on the American public in the 1990s as the ground breaking BBC documentary series on the Great War had on the British people in the earlier 1960s.  Powerful and evocative musical backing and first rate vocal accompaniment from accomplished actors  - Jeremy Irons in the former, for example ( that British voice again !) , and Ralph Richardson  in the latter - amplified the effect. An array of academic and journalistic talent was marshalled for both : Shelby Foote in the one case,Corelli Barnett in the second, exemplifying the calibre of research that was deployed.

 

Gallipoli has yet to be featured in a documentary of the highest standard. I honestly cannot recall seeing anything that does justice to it....it would be enough to have the still photographs backed up by vocal narrative of the Ken Burns calibre.  Wouldn’t that be something to aim for ? 

 

The Peter Weir film itself actually gave the best screen depiction of the combat conditions that I’ve ever seen.  Its message was jarring to some British audiences, but the evocation of the battlefield was very convincing ....to me, at least.

 

Phil

 

 

Edited by phil andrade

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Hyacinth1326

'Gallipoli has yet to be featured in a documentary of the highest standard. I honestly cannot recall seeing anything that does justice to it....it would be enough to have the still photographs backed up by vocal narrative of the Ken Burns calibre.  Wouldn’t that be something to aim for ? '

 

That would work for me too.  But would it work for the X Box generation ?   In order to be financed, a producer would have to demonstrate a broad appeal for the concept.  It is almost unimaginable that ITV could have produced The World at War series back in the 70s.

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phil andrade
Posted (edited)

A question for our Australian pals : is there an Aussie consensus that the whole strategic concept behind the Dardanelles Campaign was flawed ?

 

The flaws in execution were so manifest that there can be no doubt about the folly in that respect.....but what do you think about the idea behind the venture ?

 

Forgive me for raking over old coals here, but the contrasts between differing outlooks from high calibre historians are too striking to ignore.

 

Peter Hart : IT WAS A LUNACY that never could have succeeded , an idiocy generated by muddled thinking.

 

Erickson :  ….  the concept behind it was grand strategy of the first order that might have led to conditions ending the war two years early on allied terms. This might have avoided the bloodletting of 1916-1918, saved Czarist Russian from revolution, and side-stepped the disastrous Treaty of Versailles - in effect, altering the course of the entire twentieth century.

 

To discuss the pros and cons of those two arguments would be to resurrect the eternal Easterner versus Westerner discussion : not my intention here, so much as finding out whether Australian people tend to take a view that allows them to consider the potential of the campaign, or whether they are so exercised by the Digger folklore that they prefer to reflect on that instead.

 

Phil

Edited by phil andrade

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

Yes the modern Australian forgets that during the 1914-18 war, many aussies were transplanted British.

My GF had only arrived around 18 months from Birmingham with his brother.

But even then he saw himself as an aussie, not British, funny that?

He served with the 10th ALHR, so the movie, which I saw many many other West Aussies  in Perth, had a lot of inpact on us in the theate. many women were crying as were a number of men, and I am not ashamed to say, so was I with wet eyes.

 

My family was lucky and my GF survived, his brother was killed in France 3 Sept 1918 at Mont St Quentin and still remains there.


S.B

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phil andrade

Thanks Steve.

 

You’ve provided the perfect answer to the questions I asked about a dozen posts back.

 

My suggestion about largely British born provenance of men in the AIF is endorsed.

 

If you would be kind enough to deal with the question I asked just above ( post 53), I would appreciate it.

 

The Dardanelles Campaign cost the British Empire forty one thousand lives, seventy per cent of them from Great Britain and Ireland.  There were, in addition, about nine or ten thousand French dead

 

But the Australian and New Zealand deaths aggregating c.11,500 were disproportionately high relation to population ; the two dominions combined contained fewer people than London in 1914.

 

This drives me to ponder the question as to how the people of the two nations now view the strategic wisdom or folly of the strategy.

 

Is opinion split pretty evenly , or is there a consensus that the Gallipoli venture was daft ?

 

Phil

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b3rn
Posted (edited)

My personal experience is that when you emigrate, you go all-in. You've made a choice, and you want that to be a good choice. You're invested in your new nation. So, I can see how many British-born AIF would've considered themselves British but also something more (sorry pommies!) – Australian. The stats do show a large percentage of the AIF being British-born but that doesn't necessarily correlate to how they saw themselves. Gallipoli was the first opportunity for these men and women (colonials, indigenous) to match themselves against those of the 'mother country' – and who hasn't experienced the desire to one-up the top dog! That was then of course, and now we have a lot of cliche and sentiment that obfuscates the picture.

 

The last time I was at Beach Cemetery, a Dutchman in the AIF was pointed out to me, his epitaph in his native tongue. And yes, the French are forgotten, but this campaign was just one of many for them, for Australians it was the first. Like the Turks, it's a foundation story.

 

I'm no expert, but I don't believe Australians think much about the rationale for the campaign, beyond a general feeling of folly. It's not unusual to hear the First World War conflated with WWII as a fight for freedom, when it was clearly for king and empire – at least, that's what the honour boards, erected during and after the war, say.

 

Phil, I hope your family bookshop is still going!

Edited by b3rn

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Uncle George

In his 1957 novel ‘On the Beach’ Nevil Shute has the Australian First Naval Member, Admiral Sir David Hartman, saying farewell to an American Naval Officer: ‘ “This is the end of a long association, Captain,” he said. “We British have always enjoyed working with Americans” ‘. 

 

We British. Shute was born in England in 1899 and emigrated to Australia in 1950. 

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phil andrade

Another question , if I may.

 

What proportion of the soldiers in the AIF came from towns or cities ?

 

In the film, there is a good deal of caricature, with the rustic life and the rather ferocious frontier type of individualism coming to the fore.

 

Evocations of the Outback culture figure largely.

 

Bareback riding, aborigines etc.

 

Did the majority of Australian people live in the big cities on the coastal fringe ?

 

Phil

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Hyacinth1326
Posted (edited)

'Like the Turks, it's a foundation story'.

 

I rather think the Turkish 'foundation story' played out at Manzikert a little earlier, irrespective of whatever narrative Ataturk sought to impose.  Interesting that Erdogan is currently reversing this agenda.  

Edited by Hyacinth1326

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b3rn

Phil, I don't have the facts at my fingertips but historians say the majority of men came from the major towns. There are a couple of myth-busting type books that question Bean's portrayal of the 'natural soldier'. Bean, by the way, is an example of someone you might say is quite British (schooled in England from age 10 or so) but identified very much as Australian. Again, understandable that he over-compensates a bit. 

 

Uncle George, there will be many examples like the one you give. I'm not trying to argue against you. Just saying that material from the time shows (in some cartoons literally) the little brother trying to get out of his big brother's shadow and make a name for himself. I don't think being Australian meant denying British birth or heritage (if you were born there, or wished to assume your part in the empire). Equally, I can imagine some people being snobs, and identifying primarily as British although born in Australia. I know examples of both! I only dipped into this thread to caution against assuming birthplace correlates with identity. I agree a significant percentage of the AIF was born in Great Britain. And our national hero, Simpson, is the best example of that!

 

Hyacinth1326, I'm talking about how Gallipoli is used today in public discourse, to support the national identity of Australia and Turkey. Generally that bears a tenuous connection to actual history. You can't avoid 18 March in Turkey just like Gallipoli is the cornerstone of Anzac in Australia. I think two films had been produced and screen to eager punters in Sydney before 1915 was through.

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phil andrade
Posted (edited)

Haven’t the Turks produced their own film to coincide with the centennial ?

 

If memory serves me, it’s about a dual between two snipers ; a Turk versus an Australian.

 

Enemy at the Gates, transferred from the Volga to the Hellespont !

 

What I saw of it looked ludicrous to me : by comparison , Peter Weir’s film is sublimely authentic .

 

Reverting from screen to the written word, one of the most compelling - and harrowing -  fictional depictions of Gallipoli is, in my opinion, to be found in Louis de Bernier’s Birds without Wings.  This is written from the Turkish point of view.

 

Phil

Edited by phil andrade

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Hyacinth1326
Posted (edited)

And our national hero, Simpson, is the best example of that

 

True.  Letters written to his family in South Shields provide a most interesting insight.

Edited by Hyacinth1326

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Gunner Bailey
22 minutes ago, Hyacinth1326 said:

And our national hero, Simpson, is the best example of that

 

True.  Letters written to his family in South Shields reinforce the point that he thought of himself as a Geordie first and foremost.

:doh:

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MKC
Posted (edited)

Phil,

 

"You’ve provided the perfect answer to the questions I asked about a dozen posts back.

 

My suggestion about largely British born provenance of men in the AIF is endorsed"

 

I respectfully suggest that a single example out of 360,000 + does not a 'perfect answer' make. I could just as easily say that both my grandfathers and a great aunt who served in the AIF were born in Australia, thereby endorsing the alternate view.

 

Perhaps refer to my previous post (44) for the country of birth of AIF medical personnel which provides around 1,000 examples, the majority of whom were born in Australia (well, the colonies, to be precise).

 

Mike

 

 

Edited by MKC

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Hyacinth1326
Posted (edited)

I respectfully suggest that a single example out of 360,000 + does not a 'perfect answer' make. I could just as easily say that both my grandfathers and a great aunt who served in the AIF were born in Australia, thereby endorsing the alternate view.

 

 

Representing two examples out of 360,000.   Hell, this one will just run and run.  Wikipedia (quotes Joan Beaumont. Broken Australia) who gives a figure of 18% British born but the evidence is unclear as to the mechanisms by which this figure was arrived at. Dr Peter Stanley provides a figure of one in five being British born. I do know that Andrew Robertshaw carried out some research in this area and found the percentage to be  higher but I don't have the stats to hand.

Edited by Hyacinth1326

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phil andrade
3 hours ago, MKC said:

Phil,

 

"You’ve provided the perfect answer to the questions I asked about a dozen posts back.

 

My suggestion about largely British born provenance of men in the AIF is endorsed"

 

I respectfully suggest that a single example out of 360,000 + does not a 'perfect answer' make. I could just as easily say that both my grandfathers and a great aunt who served in the AIF were born in Australia, thereby endorsing the alternate view.

 

Perhaps refer to my previous post (44) for the country of birth of AIF medical personnel which provides around 1,000 examples, the majority of whom were born in Australia (well, the colonies, to be precise).

 

Mike

 

 

 

Mike,

 

Yes, you’re right, and forgive me for not giving proper acknowledgement to that post of yours....and in my enthusiasm to thank Steve for his anecdote I became a bit slap dash in the use of the word “ perfect” !

 

I confess to being a bit surprised to see the number of just about 15% of your sample being born in the British Isles : a bit lower than I would have expected.

 

That thirty three out of the 132 came from Ireland is an interesting feature : one quarter of the entire British born cohort, a disproportionately high ratio if the population of Ireland is assessed against that of the total for GB and Ireland .  Plenty of distress in the Emerald Isle, I suppose. Plus ca change .

 

I’ve always been a bit twitchy about referring to the “UK”pre 1914.....how should we view Ireland in that context ?

 

Phil

 

 

 

 

 

 

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b3rn

I applied for an API key to access the National Archives of Australia database but I'm not sure if that service is still being offered. So I used the advanced search on the website Discovering Anzacs, restricting results to the series B2455 - First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920. The series comprises 376,061 Australian service personnel records although the advanced search filtered by B2455 returns 376,003 results. I've used the latter figure as the total on which to base percentages.

 

Searching on place of birth Australia returns 286,332 records, suggesting 89,671 (23.85%) were not born in Australia.

 

Searching for British-born is problematic because some records give a country (e.g. England) while others give a county and UK, or both a country and United Kingdom/UK. So I couldn't simply add the totals for place of birth England, Scotland etc. But British-born is probably between 20.5% and 23%.

 

Please treat these figures with caution, the methodology was hardly robust! And the number of personnel records in B2455 (about 376,000) is some way short of the total AIF enlistment (412,953) that is given on the Australian War Memorial website

 

 

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MKC

All,

 

An interesting subject, and one that is bringing out some very interesting figures. Experienced historians such as Peter Stanley (20%) and Beaumont (18%), but the basis of their calculations is not known. B3rn's rough figuring (which looks pretty good to me, being based on the NAA data) of around 23%. The figure from my very limited and specialised group of MOs is about 15% - how I now regret not having put 'place of birth' in all my WW1 personnel databases!

 

The NAA houses surviving WW1 personnel files in B2455 which is about 27,000 short of the enlistment figures which I think originate from Scott's volume of the Official History. This near 413,000 figure is total enlistments, but not every enlistee went overseas. And the NAA's B2455 also includes the Tropical Force/AN&MEF as well, so the actual figure of surviving AIF personnel dossiers is actually less than the total of files held by the NAA in B2455. 

 

Result? We'll never know or be able to calculate a precise figure as not all the records have survived, but up to 23% looks like a pretty good figure to work with. 

 

Mike  

 

  

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phil andrade

Might we make a legitimate assumption , then , that between one fifth and one quarter of all the soldiers who served in the AIF had been born in the British Isles ?

 

Phil

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

I do a lot of work with my Nom Roll of the ALH or ALH Support units in Palestine, France and Mesopotania.

 

I have around 40,000 names of these soldiers and looked at the question of where they came from before, but also could not get a confirmed answer.

 

I also would claim there were at lest 30% British or UK born soldiers (Scottish and Irish and Welch) in these units, around 10% other countries, and the remainder natural born Aussies.

 

Sorry but not all ALH were country men, while its unfair to said because you were born in say Sydney, you didn't ride or there were not many outer suburbs that were still bush in 1914. Unlike the UK where the towns were over crowded, not so much here in Australia at that time.


Cheers


S.B

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Hyacinth1326

23-30% seems a good working figure

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phil andrade
Posted (edited)

Now we’re getting into the realm of one third !

 

Good point about the blending of suburbs with bush, Steve.

 

Caricature reigns supreme in Peter Weir’s film.

 

It made skilful use of soundtrack : I distinctly remember the operatic combination of  Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers’ Duet  and Albinoni’s Adagio blending with the sights and sounds of the Peninsula....an incongruous but effective way of enhancing dramatic impact.  This had worked well in the British film classic Zulu twenty years earlier , which also used caricature of welsh cultural traits, best exemplified by the operatic skills of Ivor Emmanuel .

 

Phil

Edited by phil andrade

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b3rn

I'd say 23% would be the upper limit, unless a robust data analysis shows otherwise. 

 

I'm curious about what proposition you're trying to prove, Hyacinth1326.

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phil andrade

If we’re to extrapolate from a sample, what is the minimal percentage that we can feel comfortable with ?

 

I have been busy studying the American Civil War, and there’s an essay written by an eminent professor of the University of North Carolina which entails a statistical study of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  The results rather surprised me, and didn’t tally with the impressions I’d gained through many years of reading. I then found out that he’d based his extrapolation on a sample of five hundred men from an army that, at one time or another, enlisted 220,000 men : less than one fifth of one per cent !  I wrote to him and expressed my misgivings, and I got a rather hostile response.

 

What we have here with the AIF looks much, much better, but we’re still getting disconcertingly disparate reckonings.

 

Phil

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b3rn

Phil, there is no need to extrapolate from a sample because AIF service records list place of birth and the full set is available. The only issue I see is writing the rules to disambiguate e.g. UK versus United Kingdom. But I might be missing something, I usually am! Hopefully I can get api access to the dataset.

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