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With the Dardanelles Expedition (c.1915)

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clip Anzac Cove to Quinn’s Post

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Filming from Watson’s Pier at Anzac Cove, the camera pans along the steep hillside at the beach, across the area the Australian and New Zealand troops had to assault on 25 April 1915. This shot is from three months later when the area is a hive of activity, headquarters for the Anzac troops. Stairs have been hewn out of the hillside, and tents erected with sandbags to protect them. On top of MacLaurin’s Hill, a soldier waves to the camera as troops use trench roads to climb Monash Valley, leading eventually to Quinn’s Post, where the scenes of runners handing in messages ‘at headquarters’ are thought to have been filmed. Two soldiers demonstrate a ‘periscope rifle’, invented at Anzac to counter Turkish snipers.

Curator’s notes

The titles for the film were written by the Australian historian CEW (Charles) Bean in 1919, when he received a copy of the film from Sir Alfred Butt. If it had titles before then, we do not know, but Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett used the film on his lecture tours in 1916, so he may not have bothered with titles, because he could explain the shots as his audience watched. Bean’s titles have since been deemed inaccurate in parts, which makes identification of places in the film more complicated.

Peter Stanley, former principal historian at the Australian War Memorial, believes these scenes of soldiers in covered trenches were shot at Quinn’s Post, which would mean these are probably soldiers of William Malone’s Wellington Battalion, from New Zealand. Part of his reasoning is that one of the soldiers wears a tie – and Malone was famous for insisting on proper attire from his men. It is clear that these scenes are staged, or directed, as the men walking out of shot turn to look back as soon as they think they are off camera. One possibility is that some of the men in the shot were not men of Quinn’s Post at all, but deputed to accompany the party of war correspondents who visited Malone and his men on 22 July 1915 (see main notes). One or two of them look very like men who turn up in later parts of the film in other locations (see clip two notes).

The opening shots of this clip are fascinating, because they show us what Anzac Cove looked like after three months of occupation – a small and very active village has been established, with roads, well-hewn paths and terraces, housing tents, bicycles, workshops and sleeping quarters. MacLaurin’s Hill was a ridge top just south of Quinn’s Post. Monash Valley led up from Anzac Cove, via Shrapnel Gully, past MacLaurin’s Hill and Courtney’s Post to Quinn’s Post, a legendary and terrible part of the front line, where Turkish trenches, at their closest, were eight metres from the Anzac trenches. Fighting here was constant for the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign, with persistent casualties on both sides, due partly to the accurate sniping and the tactic of lobbing improvised bombs into the enemy’s trenches. Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli (1981) recreates this kind of warfare at Quinn’s Post. Ashmead-Bartlett’s film footage informed much of the look of that film.

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