Friday, March 20, 2015

The First Anzac Day film trailer

The 10th Battalion was the first infantry battalion raised in South Australia for service during The Great War, they were at the head of the covering force for the Anzac Cove (near Gaba Tepe) landing and amongst the first ashore, they fought in many of the worst battles of the Western Front. During the early days of the war the battalion became known as 'The Fighting 10th'.

In the darkness and chaos of the landing two 10th Battalion scouts, Arthur Blackburn and Philip Robin, made it across the peninsula to their unit’s objective Scrubby Knoll. No allied soldier would set foot there again during the entire campaign.

Meanwhile Australians were finding ways to raise funds, care for the wounded and honour the dead. On the 13th of October 1915 South Australia's Eight Hour Day was renamed Anzac Day. A huge procession was held that included wounded veterans and 5000 AIF soldiers. Proceeds from the day’s events were donated to the Wounded Soldiers Fund. In an effort to attract a big crowd a number of sports and novelty events were held on Adelaide Oval after the procession. The day culminated with two obsolete horse drawn trams being crashed into each other and exploded in front of a crowd of 20,000.
 
This 66 minute film follows the formation of the 10th Battalion, what became of the scouts and explores The First Anzac Day.

DVD extras (28 mins) 
1) Arthur Blackburn V.C.
2) John Gordon M.C.
3)Dardanelles Cenotaph (the first ANZAC memorial in the Commonwealth )
4) The Trams and the Lost Film of 'The First Anzac Day'

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Watch the trailer 



The First Anzac Day was produced with the support of the
ANZAC Day Commemoration Fund.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

10th Battalion Scouts Gallipoli

The 10th Battalion was the first South Australian infantry battalion to serve in The Great War. The 10th Battalion Scouts (No. 1 section A coy.) where amongst the first men to set foot ashore at Gallipoli.

This photograph from the South Australian State Library was taken at the Morphettville Racecourse Training Camp around September 1914.  It shows nine of the ten 10th Battalion No.1 section scouts. 

Thomas Whyte, Francis Stokes, Malcolm Teesdale-Smith and Philip Robin were all killed in action during the first three days of the Gallipoli campaign.  Erich Meldrum survived the landing, but took his own life when he returned home shortly after. Jose was killed on the Western Front.  

Only three of these men survived the Gallipoli campaign. Guy Fisher returned to the war to serve in other theatres. Arthur Blackburn was honoured with a Victoria Cross for his services at Pozieres and John Rutherford Gordon joined the Royal Flying Corps and was honoured with a Military Cross for his ground attack actions during the German March/April 1918 offensives.  A special thank you to John's son, Bruce Gordon.

 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The First Anzac Day


On the 13th of October 1915 Adelaide’s Eight Hour Day was renamed Anzac Day for one year. All proceeds were donated to the Wounded Soldiers Fund.  A contest had been run to choose a suitable name to honour the soldiers fighting in the Dardanelles.  Anzac Day was chosen, it had been submitted by a Prospect draper, Robert Wheeler. This event was the first time the words 'Anzac Day' were used.
A huge procession featured 13 car loads of wounded veterans home from Gallipoli and nearly 5000 AIF soldiers who were about to leave for the war marched.
After the procession a crowd of 20,000 gathered at Adelaide Oval for an afternoon of entertainment and sporting events. The day culminated with two obsolete horse drawn trams being crashed into each other and exploded. This had been heavily advertised and billed as 'American style entertainment'. Novel elements such as the tram crash were included to attract a large crowd who would hopefully donate to the Wounded Soldiers Fund.
This photograph of the troops marching in the procession was published in The Adelaide Chronicle.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The first ANZAC memorial in the Commonwealth

On Wattle Day, 7 September 1915, the Dardanelles Cenotaph was unveiled in Adelaide's South Parklands by the Australian Governor-General, Sir Munro Ferguson, who stated, "this inititaive had caused Adelaide to be the first city, in the Commonwealth, to erect a memorial to the landing of the troops at Gallipoli." 

The word ANZAC was not yet part of popular lexicon and the inscription on the Cenotaph commemorates Australasian Soldiers.

Rather than a memorial to war the Cenotaph is a substitute head stone where family members could mourn their dead whose bodies never came home.

The Dardanelles Cenotaph was erected and funded by the Wattle Day League and located in an area known as Wattle Grove. The plan was for a Wattle tree to be planted for each dead soldier. This was kept up for many years but during the 1940s the area had fallen into disrepair and the Cenotaoh was moved to it's current location in the Lundie Gardens, South Terrace, Adelaide.

The Dardanelles Cenotaph has been a neglected memorial for many years, but a remembrance service was held on 7 Sept 2014 to commemorate the 99th anniversary. This photograph combines the 1915 unveiling with the anniversary service.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Arthur Blackburn V.C. and his daughter Margie Forbes

On the morning of the Gallipoli landing two young 10th Battalion scouts, Arthur Blackburn and Philip Robin, where amongst the first men to set foot ashore.  Using old Turkish trench lines and gullies they had soon made it across the peninsula to their unit's objective, Scrubby Knoll on the Third Ridge, and they made it back to the front line.  Shortly after Mustafa Kemal, Commander of the Turkish 19th Division established his headquarters on Scrubby Knoll, no allied soldier would set foot on Scrubby Knoll again during the entire campaign. 
Later, on the Western Front at Pozieres, Arthur Blackburn became the first South Australian to be honoured with the Victoria Cross during the great war.  
In World War 2 Blackburn fought in Syria and was then made a Brigadier in charge of Blackforce in Java. Under-manned and under-resourced he and his men were taken as prisoner of war.  Arthur Blackburn survived approximately four years in prison camps.

Arthur Blackburn and Philp Robin's exploits are part of the documentary The First Anzac Day, during  filming I was honoured to interview Arthur Blackburn's daughter, Margie Forbes (pictured).

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Departure of the 10th Battalion 20 October 1914

The 10th Battalion was the first infantry battalion raised in South Australia for service during The Great War. On the 19th of August 1914 the Morphettville Racecourse Training Camp opened.  The first recruits of the 10th Battalion arrived that day and the only food available to them was bread and jam. In late October the men of the 10th boarded the train at Morphettville station and headed for Outer Harbour where they embarked for Egypt on the Ascanius.

The 10th battalion were at the head of the covering force for the Gallipoli (Gaba Tepe) landing and amongst the first ashore, they fought in many of the worst battles of the Western Front.
Their story forms part of the documentary The First Anzac Day

If you'd like to stay informed about this documentary please follow this page
or email Ash Starkey
Click here to write to me.