Visiting Canberra? Those with an interest in Mosman’s connections with WWI are well served by the National Gallery of Australia’s exhibition, Artists of the Great War.
Photographs of strike-breakers at Taronga Zoo and a digitised image of a letter written by a Mosman mother enquiring about her son, give us a glimpse into Australian society in the early 20th century.
Stammering scores of German machine-guns spluttered violently, drowning the noise of the cannonade. The air was thick with bullets, swishing in a flat, criss-crossed lattice of death … The bullets skimmed low, from knee to groin, riddling the tumbling bodies before they touched the ground. Hundreds were mown down in the flicker of an eyelid, like great rows of teeth knocked from a comb … Men were cut in two by streams of bullets [that] swept like whirling knives … It was the Charge of the Light Brigade once more, but more terrible, more hopeless – magnificent, but not war – a valley of death filled by somebody’s blunder.
– Private Jimmy Downing, 57th Battalion
I knew immediately this was how I wanted to go to war. I wanted to fly one of these aeroplanes, to get to grips with the enemy without all the sordid complications of war on the ground.
“Much as we may wish to make a new beginning, some part of us resists doing so as though we were making the first step toward disaster.” – Sir William Throsby Bridges (1861-1915)
By the evening of the 25th of April, Australian and New Zealand Divisions clung precariously onto the ridges and spurs around Gaba Tepe (ANZAC Cove.)
The hopes of the 1st A.I.F. of embarking on a grand adventure, and marching through the streets of Constantinople, fell apart shortly after the first waves of enthusiastic volunteers hit the beaches.