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Thursday 24 April 2014

The Typewriter ANZACs: Australasian War Correspondents - Harry Gullett (Part IV)

A letter typed on a Corona 3 from Henry Gullett to Australia's official war historian Charles Bean. John Treloar was also a Corona 3-wielding soldier and war archivist.
Sir Henry Somer (Harry) Gullett was born on March 26, 1878 at Toolamba West, Victoria. At a very young age he started writing on agriculture for the Geelong Advertiser. His uncle, Henry Gullett, who had been editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, encouraged him to pursue journalism and in 1900 he joined the staff of that paper. Having quickly become established in his profession, in 1908 Gullett went to London where he worked as a freelance but also wrote for the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Sun
In 1915 Gullett was appointed official Australian correspondent with the British and French armies on the Western Front. After a year in France he returned to Australia to lecture on the war, then in July 1916 enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a gunner. His return to England early in 1917 coincided with the organisation of the Australian War Records Section designed by Charles Bean as a preliminary to the foundation of an Australian War Museum
Gullett, standing, in the War Records Office in Cairo.
Bean selected Gullett to command the sub-section to be set up in Egypt and had him commissioned in August 1917. After a few weeks in France with Bean, Gullett sailed for Egypt in November. However, his work in the field for War Records was brief, as the AIF in Palestine saw in him what they had so long been denied - their own Australian war correspondent. Bean gladly recommended him (see Gullett's letter at top of post) and he took up this appointment in August 1918, just in time for the final offensive.
Early in 1919, before returning to London, Gullett showed moral courage by confronting the commander-in-chief, General Sir Edmund Allenby. Since the Surafend incident,  when angry Anzacs had avenged the murder of a New Zealander by an Arab thief, Allenby had not only punished the Anzac Mounted Division but had pointedly ignored the Anzacs on public occasions when praising other troops. Gullett convinced him of the wider repercussions of his attitude and persuaded him to issue to every soldier a generously worded order of the day before they left for home.
Gullett attended the peace conference in Paris as press liaison officer on the staff of Prime Minister Billy Hughes (who also used a Corona 3 portable typewriter). 
On return to Australia he was briefly the first director of the Australian War Museum (now Memorial, based in Canberra). He wrote volume VII of The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, recounting the exploits of the AIF in Sinai, Palestine and Syria. No amount of pressure from senior officers could persuade him to deviate from the lines he had chosen when writing the history. By 1940 it had been reprinted eight times and was hailed by Bean as "the most readable and most read" of all the volumes of that history.
In February 1922 Gullett returned to journalism with the Melbourne Herald after rejecting the offer of a post on The Times of London.
In 1925 he was elected as a Nationalist for Henty, a seat he held for the rest of his life. He became minister for trade and customs in November 1928. He resumed this portfolio in January 1932 and again in 1934 when, after a bout of ill-health, he became minister in charge of trade treaties. Though Gullett had first-hand experience of the value of American-made portable typewriters, economic times and a seriously out-of-kilter trade balance with the United States forced his decision to reduce the importation of US typewriters into Australia by a massive 75 per cent in 1936.
Gullett was knighted in January 1933. Gullett's life ended tragically on August 13, 1940, when the aircraft in which he was travelling crashed near Canberra. He was just 55.

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