‘My late pilgrimage to Gallipoli‘, Honest History, 21 March 2017
Honest History is pleased to publish this piece from Walter Phillips, Emeritus Scholar at La Trobe University, Melbourne. It is comparable with the elegaic Anzac commemoration pieces from Genevieve Jacobs in 2014 and Richard Reid in 2014 and 2016, each of which showed it is possible to be respectful and regretful about death in war, without at the same time sacrificing thought and judgement. This is a theme in The Honest History Book (forthcoming in April), particularly in the chapter from David Stephens entitled ‘Anzac and Anzackery: Useful future or sentimental dream?’
Walter Phillips’ piece is notable also for its recognition of deaths other than those of Australians. He observes how Turks commemorate and he visits the memorials put up by the British and the French at Gallipoli. Honest History’s past president, Peter Stanley, recently published Die in Battle, Do Not Despair: The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915, and The Honest History Book includes chapters from Douglas Newton (‘Other people’s war: The Great War in a world context’) and Vicken Babkenian and Judith Crispin (’24 April 1915: Australia’s Armenian story over a century’) which take a broader perspective on the Great War than Australians tend to.
Walter Phillips notes in his article the discrepancy between the proportion of the men involved in the Dardanelles campaign who came from Australia and New Zealand and the vigour with which antipodean countries remember the campaign and those who died in it. We all should notice this discrepancy, while recognising, of course, that every death in war is an individual and family tragedy.
Jonathan Green of Meanjin and ABC RN is to speak at the Melbourne launch of The Honest History Book on 20 April. We quote him in the final chapter of the book about the need to maintain our sense of proportion when looking at Australia’s wars: we need to cease, says Green, ‘setting Australian life and sense of loss above this common muddle of bones and blood’. Walter Phillips’ piece meets that standard.
21 March 2017