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Faces of Gallipoli: men of history

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Nine young faces, nine remarkable stories.

Pictured (below) together at a training camp in Egypt before deployment, these scouts of the 10th Battalion were some of the very first to row their boats into the death-trap of what would come to be known as Anzac Cove.

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Thomas Anderson Whyte didn’t even make it to shore.

Francis Herbert Stokes was killed minutes later while rescuing wounded men from the water.

Malcolm Teesdale Smith took a bullet to the neck but carried on until he was hit again.

Philip de Quetteville Robin made it further inland than any other Australian during the entire campaign.

Arthur Seaforth Blackburn became one of Australia’s most decorated war heroes, enlisting again in World War Two only to be captured by the Japanese.

Wilfred Oswald Jose survived Gallipoli, but perished in later battles on the Western Front.

10th battalion Scouts-1Eric Douglas Meldrum made it through the entire war, only to take his own life on return to Australia.

John Rutherford Gordon would go on to become an ace pilot, while Guy Fisher went on to be an top-shot lawyer.

The few that survived the futile slaughter of Gallipoli were separated at the end of the campaign, with the 10th Battalion split in half in order to mix in fresh recruits with the veterans.

The new 50th Battalion would take half the troops, and both military bodies would be sent to fight in the trenches against the Germans in France.

The individual stories of these young men in the photo represent the breadth of experiences of those Australians who fought in the First World War.

Drawing on contemporary newspaper reports, the letters they wrote, the accounts of those who survived, and research by Andrew Faulkner, Melissa Cadden and John Gordon’s son Bruce, The New Daily brings you the amazing stories of nine men from Section 1 of the No. 1 Platoon, A Company of the 10th Battalion.


Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 10.39.52 amThe War Hero – Arthur Seaforth Blackburn

It is hard to say what was harder to believe about Arthur Blackburn – his achievements or his larger-than-life persona.

Growing up in the suburbs of Adelaide, Blackburn’s life was fairly ordinary until that first landing in Gallipoli, and it could easily have ended there.

It didn’t. He kept on fighting and received a Victoria Cross for his heroism.

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John Rutherford GordonThe Pilot – John Rutherford Gordon

Gilberton-born sergeant John Rutherford Gordon was nicknamed “Jack O’Gibraltar” on account of his formidable size.

Gordon fought for several months before contracting thyphoid and being sent back to Australia, but he didn’t let that hold him back.

It wasn’t long before he was back on the battlefield, or over it, as it turned out.

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Philip de Quetteville Robin

The Footballer – Philip de Quetteville Robin

In 1911, Phil Robin was one of the best AFL footballers in Australia.

His football career came to a sudden halt when war broke out and he was shipped off to Egypt for military training.

His fiancée Nellie Irene Honeywill volunteered as a nurse and travelled followed him to Cairo.

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Thomas Anderson Whyte 2The Rower – Thomas Anderson “Snow” Whyte

Thomas Whyte was proficient at many sports, but rowing was his main game. He even represented his state around Australia.

When war was declared, Whyte enlisted and was shipped off to Egypt for further training, in what must have been a difficult decision given his fresh marriage engagement.

His final letter to his beloved fiancee is heart-wrenching, and reveals a selfless, articulate man well aware of the dangers he faced.

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eric-douglas-meldrum-anzac

The Sprinter – Eric Douglas Meldrum

Like his platoon mate Whyte, Eric Meldrum was a champion athlete and a well-regarded sprinter.

He spent three months in the trenches at Gallipoli, and while he was eager to serve in the beginning, the decision haunted him when he returned to Australia.

The troubled man paid a high price for his service.

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Wilfred Oswald JoseThe Student – Wilfred Oswald Jose

In 1913, Wilfred Oswald Jose was given the award for best student at his school in Adelaide, and when war broke out just a year later, he was at the front of the queue waiting to enlist.

At the end of the Gallipoli campaign Jose returned to Egypt, where he made an equally good impression as at school, and was promoted quickly to the rank of lieutenant.

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guy-fisherThe Lawyer – Guy Fisher

Guy Fisher was working as a law clerk when the war began and, according to his double-digit service number, was one of the very first to enlist.

He was wounded several times in combat at Gallipoli, before being sent to the UK and then later serving in India, where he attained the rank of captain.

Fisher kept the group photo above – of his unit during training – next to his bathroom mirror so he could see it each morning.

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malcolm teesdale smithThe Clerk – Malcolm Teesdale Smith

Melbourne-born clerk Malcolm Teesdale Smith enlisted at the age of 24 and blitzed training thanks to his time with the Melbourne University Rifle club.

Diary entries show he was fearless on the battlefield, constantly stopping to help other wounded soldiers in dangerous ridges, despite being injured himself.

He didn’t leave Gallipoli alive, but it took a lot to bring him down.

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Francis Herbert Stokes

The Rescuer – Francis Herbert Stokes

Francis Herbert Stokes had military in his blood, even if it did skip a generation.

His grandfather was Lieutenant General Sir John Stokes, who fought for Great Britain in the Xhosa Wars in South Africa.

He made it to shore during the Gallipoli landing, but quickly turned back to rescue the wounded floating in the water, dragging them to the safety of the cliffs.

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