THE ANZAC BOOK
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Introduction by C.E.W. Bean
This book of Anzac was produced in the lines at Anzac on Gallipoli in the closing weeks of 1915. Practically every word in it was written and every line drawn beneath the shelter of a waterproof sheet or of a roof of sandbags--either in the trenches or, at most, well within the range of the oldest Turkish rifle, and under daily visitations from the smallest Turkish field-piece.
Day and night, during the whole process of its composition~ the crack of the Mauser bullets overhead never ceased. At least one good soldier that we know of, who was preparing a contribution for these pages, met his death while the work was still unfinished.
The ANZAC Book was to have been a New Year Magazine to help this little British Australasian fraternity in Turkey to while away the long winter in the trenches. The idea originated with Major S. S. Butler, of the A.N.Z.A.C. Staff. On his initiative and that of Lieutenant H. E. Woods a small committee was formed to father the magazine.
A notice was circulated on November 11th calling for contributions front the whole population of Anzac. Any profit was to go to patriotic funds for the benefit of the Army Corps.
Between November 15th and December 8th, when the time for the sending in of contributions closed, The ANZAC Book was produced. As drawings and paintings began to come in, disclosing the whereabouts of some of the talent which existed in Anzac, a small staff of artists was collected in order to produce head- and tail-pieces and a few illustrations; and a dug-out overlooking Anzac Cove became the office of the only book ever likely to be produced in Gallipoli.
It was after the contributions had been finally sent in, and when the work of editing was in full swing, that there came upon most of us front the sky the news that Anzac was to be evacuated. Such finishing touches as remained to be added after December 19th were given to the work in Imbros. The date for the publication was necessarily delayed. And it was realised by everyone that this production, which was to have been a mere pastime, had now become hundred times more precious as a souvenir. Certainly no book has ever been produced under these conditions before.
Except for this modification in the scheme of its production, THE ANZAC BOOK remains to-day exactly the same as when it was planned for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps still clinging to the familiar holly-clothed sides of Sari Bair.
The three weeks during which this book was being produced will be remembered by the men of Anzac as being the period during which we were visited by the two fiercest storms which descended upon the Peninsula. During the afternoon of November 17th the wind from the south-west gradually increased to more than half a gale, and brought with it, after dark, a most torrential thunderstorm. A day or two later this subsided, leaving a dishevelled Anzac. But the wind swung slowly round to the north, and by November 27th it was blowing a northerly blizzard; and the next day five out of every six Australians, for the first time in their lives, woke to find a white countryside and the snow falling. How deeply that snow impressed them can be seen in these pages-for dust, heat and flies were much more typical of Gallipoli.
The book was composed from first to last in the full prospect of Christmas at Anzac, and it remains a record, perhaps, all the more interesting on that account. The Printing Section of the Royal Engineers, especially Lieutenant Tuck and Corporal Ashwin, and Lieutenant G. L. Thomson, R.N.A.S., and certain Naval Officers helped us with some drawing-paper, ink and paints, and the Photographic Section with some excellent panoramas; but for the rest, the contributors had to work with such materials as Anzac contained : iodine brushes, red and blue pencils, and such approach to white paper as could be produced from each battalion's stationery.
GLIMPSES OF ANZAC. by HECTOR DINNING (Aust. A.S.C.)
IT'S the monotony we revile, not-to a like degree-hard work or hard fare. To look out on the same stretch of beach or the same patch of trench wall and the same terraces of hostile black and grey sandbags day after day is to be wearied. There is the same sitting in the same trench, shelled by the same guns, manned, perhaps (though that we endeavour to avert), by the same Turks. Unhappily it is not the same men of ours that they maim and kill daily.
And if one's dug-out lies on a seaward slope there is, every morning, the same stretch of the lovely Aegean, with the same two islands standing over in the west. Yet neither the islands nor the sea are the same any two successive days. The temper of the Aegean at this time changes more suddenly and frequently than ever does that of the Pacific.
Every morning the islands of the west take on fresh colour, and are trailed by fresh shapes of mist. To-day Imbros stands right over against you ; you see the detail of the fleet in the harbour, and the striated heights of rocky Samothrace reveal the small ravines. To-morrow, in the early morning light, Imbros lies mysteriously afar off like an Isle of the Blest, a delicate vapour - shape reposing on the placid sea.
Nor is there monotony in either weather or temperature. This is the late autumn. Yet it is a halting and irregular advance the late autumn is making. Fierce, biting, raw days alternate with the comfortableness of the mild late summer. This morning, to bathe is as much as your life is worth (shrapnel disregarded); to-morrow, in the gentle air, you may splash and gloat an hour and desire more. And down from the trenches and must clear up a vermin-and-dust-infested skin at all costs.
Not infrequently Beachy Bill catches a mid-morning bathing squad. There is ducking and splashing shorewards, and scurrying by men clad only in the garment Nature gave them. Shrapnel bursting above the water in which you are disporting raises chiefly the question: " Will it ever stop?" By this you mean: " Will the pellets ever cease to whip the water?" The interval between the murderous lightning flash aloft and the last pellet swish seems, to the potential victim, everlasting.
The work of enemy shell behind the actual trenches is peculiarly horrible. Men are struck down suddenly and unmercifully where there is no heat of battle. A man dies more easily in the charge. Here he is wounded mortally unloading a cart, drawing water for his unit, directing a mule convoy. He may lose a limb or his life when off duty-merely returning from a bathe or washing a shirt.
One of our number is struck by shrapnel retiring to his dug-out to read his just delivered mail. He is off duty -is, in fact, far tip on the ridges overlooking the sea. The wound gapes in his back. There is no staunching it. Every thump of the aorta pumps out his life. Practically he is a dead man when struck; he lives but a few minutes-with his pipe still steaming, clenched in his teeth. They lay him aside in the hospital.
That night we stand about the grave in which he lies beneath his groundsheet. Over that wind-swept headland the moon shines fitfully through driving cloud. A monitor bombards off shore. Under her friendly screaming shell and the singing bullets of the Turks the worn, big-hearted padre intones the beautiful Catholic intercession for the soul of the dead in his cracked voice.
At the burial of Sir John Moore was heard the distant and random gun. Here the shells sometimes burst in the midst of the burial party. Bearers are laid low. A running for cover. The grave is hastily filled in by a couple of shovel-men; the service is over; and fresh graves are to be dug forthwith for stricken members of the party. To die violently and be laid in this shell swept area is to die lonely indeed. The day is far off (but it will come) when splendid mausoleums will be raised over these heroic dead. And one foresees the time when steamers will bear up the Aegean pilgrims come to do honour at the resting places of friends and kindred, and to move over the charred battlegrounds of Turkey.