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March 15 , 2010

The Gallipoli Letter


In September 1915, Keith Murdoch, then a young war journalist, wrote an 8000-word letter to the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher. 'The Gallipoli Letter', as it came to be known, changed the course of the Gallipoli campaign.
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The letter, protesting against the conduct of the campaign and describing conditions at the front, is both intimate and conversational: 'I shall talk to you as if you were by my side.' It is also at times angry, passionate, vivid and very moving: 'Then in the early hours came the landing, when the life of man is at its lowest.' At times, it is simply heartbreaking: 'The heroic Fourth Brigade was reduced in three day's fighting to little more than 1000 strong. You will be glad to know that the men died well.'

The letter changed the course of the campaign: Hamilton, the general in charge of the campaign, was sent home, and the Allies were withdrawn in December of the same year.

The Gallipoli Letter is an inspiring document. It speaks directly to us about war, our history and the indomitable Australian spirit. Accessible and compelling, it should be read by everyone - it is a vital part of our history and the enduring ANZAC legend.

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