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Book Review, NRJ 60.4

November 15, 2015 12:00 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

Voyage to Gallipoli

Peter Plowman

The Commonwealth of Australia was born on January 1, 1901. Fourteen years later, Australian troops made up a large part of the Allied force that assaulted Gallipoli in Turkey. Australia’s involvement in the subsequent campaign became a defining moment for the new nation, witnessed today by its most important national holiday: Anzac Day (April 25).

Maritime historian Peter Plowman’s book, Voyage to Gallipoli, is a masterly account of the nation’s naval and maritime response to the outbreak of the Great War and its early operations that culminated with the landings on Gallipoli. The Royal Australian Navy was very small: a battlecruiser, three modern light cruisers, three destroyers, and two submarines were its only up-to-date warships. Australia’s merchant fleet was tiny, too, and its army virtually non-existent. Nevertheless, Australia took on assignments throughout the Pacific in order to counter German forces there, eliminate German colonial assets, and assist in terminating effort to raid Allied shipping in the area.

The major task, however, was arranging to transport the new Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) of two divisions (about 40,000 men) to war. The tale of this undertaking is the core of Plowman’s book. He relies on a mass of source material—newspaper articles, letters, memoirs, official documents, and secondary writings—for his narrative. The use of so many letters, memoirs, and newspaper stories makes his presentation particularly compelling and personal without diminishing its historicity in the slightest. This is social history at its best.

Plowman also displays a masterly use of illustrations to enhance his narrative. His delving into private and public collections to supplement his own material pays off in a fascinating array of photographs, few of which have been published before. Voyage to Gallipoli is both exciting reading and an important contribution to the literature of World War I. It is particularly interesting for those outside Australia, for whom much of the story will be new. I highly recommend it. 

  • Dural Delivery Center: Rosenberg Publishing, 2013
  • 7-1/4” x 9-1/2”, softcover, 304 pages
  • Photographs, maps, tables, bibliography, index. $34.95
  • ISBN: 9781922013538
  • Distributed in the United States by International Specialized Book Services, Portland, Oregon

Reviewed by James McFarland, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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