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Remembered Today:

Gallipoli mapmaker James Nicholas Murray's 'untold story'


green_acorn
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From the ABC.net.au website, being reported tonight at 1930hrs:

"A treasure-trove of original World War I documents handwritten by a soldier who served in Gallipoli has been found, stolen, and then returned, in an eventful few months in the central Queensland town of Emerald.

The documents belonged to licensed surveyor Private James Nicholas Murray, who produced what were thought to be the most detailed maps to date of Russell's Top, a lesser-known but strategically critical line of defence in the eight-month long battle.

Using only a compass and piece of string, the then 30-year-old sketched the trenches and tunnels in the steep slopes above Anzac Cove while under fire, recording his thoughts in a pocket-sized diary, all of which remain intact to this day." ...

Superb news and it would appear the AWM may eventually get the documents.

Cheers,

Hendo

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Thank you for sharing this with the forum Chris. A superbly detailed map and a great diary.

Cheers

Chris

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It is a lovely story with wonderful resources.

All the best

Jonathan

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Thanks for the link Hendo, a remarkable collection.

The Russell's Top map is of great interest, particularly to the detailed survey that Pte James Murray undertook, but it has thrown up a couple of queries to some of the detail.

From NAA it is established that he was James Nicholas Murray No. 930, "D" Company, 25th Battalion, 7th Infantry Brigade. He landed at Gallipoli on the 9/11/15.

There was another surveyor who drew up a detailed map of Russell's Top pertaining to August, and that being Lt Col Noel Brazier, C.O. 10th LH, albeit that he drew up his map on the 10/12/1929. Brazier obviously was working from some form of sketches and notes he had made on Gallipoli, the map is far to precise to have been drawn up from memory alone.

Murray notes on his map "Neill Lane", on Brazier's map it is marked as "Miell Lane". I would tend to think that Brazier's version would be the correct name, the trench named after Lt Col Albert Miell, C.O. 9th LH, but it is possible that by the time Murray drew up his map in November the name had changed to "Neill'. The 3rd LH Bde handed over to the 20th Battalion towards the end of August, who remained holding Russell's Top until the evacuation on the 20th December.

Another interesting aspect of Murray's survey is the fact that he makes no reference to the two deep tunnels that passed under the Main Gallery, L5 & H11 (see Official History Vol II, Map 27, page 817) and ending under the Turkish front line trench A11. It was from this tunnel (Arnall's Folly) that the mine was fired on the 20th December just after the last Australian troops had left. It would suggest that these mining works were top secret as C.E.W. Bean notes in the history. If one looks at Map 27 from another perspective, it would seem to mirror Murray's survey.

Just a few observations that take nothing away from a remarkable survey of the trench and tunnel systems of Russell's Top in November 1915.

Jeff

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All the supporting documents to this remarkable story will be on display at the Emerald Central Highlands Regional Gallery on April 18th, 1915. Researcher Margaret Rawsthorne.


Sorry, I have been in the trenches for too long. 2015

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A warm welcome to you Margaret, and may I extend my appreciation to the work you have done in presenting James Murray's papers to Australian public, his great work does need to be fully recognised to its important contribution to the history of the Gallipoli campaign.

Unfortunately, living in Melbourne I will have no opportunity to seeing the display in April, I can only hope that all of his papers will eventually be digitised and put up on the internet.

Again my thanks,

Jeff

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.....

From NAA it is established that he was James Nicholas Murray No. 930, "D" Company, 25th Battalion, 7th Infantry Brigade. He landed at Gallipoli on the 9/11/15.

.........

Another interesting aspect of Murray's survey is the fact that he makes no reference to the two deep tunnels that passed under the Main Gallery, L5 & H11 (see Official History Vol II, Map 27, page 817) and ending under the Turkish front line trench A11. It was from this tunnel (Arnall's Folly) that the mine was fired on the 20th December just after the last Australian troops had left. It would suggest that these mining works were top secret as C.E.W. Bean notes in the history. If one looks at Map 27 from another perspective, it would seem to mirror Murray's survey.

Just a few observations that take nothing away from a remarkable survey of the trench and tunnel systems of Russell's Top in November 1915.

Jeff

Jeff,

You make some quite valid and interesting observations. Noting that the map drawn up by his grandson indicates it was made from the notes J.N Murray made between the 1st of October and 1st of November 1915, could it be possible he landed on September the 11th 1915, rather than 9th of November?

My second observation would be that, to prevent cave ins, the Australian Engineers would not want to have completed the deep tunnels and galleries for mine charges without a sound understanding of the trench work and shallow tunnels above, requiring a detailed surface survey. But to tell those manning the trenches or have someone from the engineer company doing that survey would increase the operational security risks. This would make Murray's 'failure' to include those tunnels entirely understandable - he wouldn't have known about them.

Cheers,

Hendo

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I refer to previous comments posted on this subject.

Firstly I thank those who have commented, and those of you who, quite correctly, have noticed irregularities. I will try my best to explain such irregularities.

Firstly I can advise that the date shown on my map for the commencement of survey is correct. The date of 2/10/1915 is the earliest date shown on page 3 of his field notes. This is spproximately 3 weeks after his landing in Anzac Cove on 11/09/1915. This agrees with his diary. It should be recognised that field book 152 is possibly the only field book which survives and contains only survey observations for Russells Top. J.N.Murray carried out survey work at numerous areas including, but not limited to "The Neck", "Quinns Post", ""Steeles Post", "Courtneys Post".

The first mention of it in his diary is as follows:

"Monday 20th September.

Stony ridge work. Our camp where we spend time, when not in trenches, is in a deep gully which runs into Agyl Dere behind our trenches. So far we have been absolutely safe there.

Capt Connors sent for me to have day out & and asked me to make sketches of trenches. I was given 1:20,000 map of this part of Gallipoli showing contours, very interesting.

Tuesday 21st September.

Making traverse with prismatic compass & piece of string 20 feet long, of trenches........"

On my map I have placed the date of survey and field book page number for individual areas.

As to date of arrival in Anzac Cove:

"Saturday 11th September

We have been staying on transport ever since Tuesday anchored in Lemnos harbour. Submarines active between here and Peninsula. The ship containing headquaters 6th Battalion was torpedoed & Brigadier killed. Lieut McDonald said this morning that we would be off this afternoon. The 27th & 28th Batts went yesterday.

We arrived off Anzac about 10:00pm. For last hour we could see warships with their search lights at play & and constant booming of guns.

We did not all complete landing till 1:00am Sunday. As far as I could make out we were not under fire during 3 hours we lay off Anzac."

I refer now to the survey of tunnels at Russells Top. As we are all probably aware the surveying of the tunnels with a prismatic compass and a piece of string would present a difficult task. Combine this with troops under fire, snow falling and very wet ground, the quality of field notes would not be that great. To plot these field notes was very difficult and no dates for the tunnel surveys were apparent.

As for the two missing tunnels I can only comment that I found no mention of these in the field notes. I do know that tunnels were blown up when the turks broke into them and this is a possible answer but the truth is that I don't know."

I trust this clears things up a little and thank you for your comments,

Frederick Mark Murray, Licensed Land Surveyor & grandson.

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Margaret and Frederick,

Welcome and thank you for joining the discussion. James survey work was tremendous and that it has been preserved is great. I think James notes are terrific, as is the work both of you have done in ensuring his work was presented to the nation.

I believe it was quite logical that he did not include the mine tunnels, for the reasons I stated in my previous post.

As with Jeff, unfortunately it is a bit hard for me to get to Emerald. I imagine it has changed quite a bit since I was there during Exercise Kangaroo 86.

Kindest Regards,

Hendo

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