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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Typewriters Forced to Tell Lies

Unlike Charles Bean's Corona 3 portable typewriter, now part of the World War I exhibitions in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, we know for certain that this 1912 Royal Standard No 5 typewriter was at Gallipoli, though not on that fateful day - April 25, 1915 - when the ANZAC legend was born.
This is the truth. What typewriters were most tellingly used for at Gallipoli, however, was to disseminate falsehoods - to give the families of New Zealand and Australian soldiers at Gallipoli the entirely false impression that their husbands, fathers and sons were doing well, showing dash and courage to have the Turks on the run, that wounds were slight and "nothing could stop them". Truth is the first casualty of war, and Gallipoli is THE classic example:
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 7
The Royal typewriter was taken to Gallipoli by Brigadier General Evan Alexander Wisdom, who in March 1915 transferred to the Australian Imperial Force as brigade major of the 5th Infantry Brigade. Wisdom took the typewriter with him from Egypt to brigade headquarters on Gallipoli in August 1915 and it saw out the rest of the campaign there. In that time, it typed many an "official" li(n)e.
It has to be one of the most travelled typewriters in military history. Bought in Australia by Major General William Holmes in June 1914, the Royal went with Holmes to Rabaul, came back to Sydney, then travelled to Egypt, then with Wisdom to Turkey, Ismailia (where it was carted around on a small donkey), France and England, and finally back to Australia and New Guinea.
The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, April 28
With the centenary of ANZAC Day just 76 hours away, it's now impossible to turn on a TV set or a radio in Australia and not see or hear something about the 1915 Gallipoli landings. There is much mention of "glorious deeds", of "myths" and "legends" and "heroics", but most of it is honest and historically accurate enough to also include the word "failure". Even, occasionally, "disaster".
The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, May 3
The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, May 10
The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, May 11
"Stupefying heroism!"
"Unique in history of modern war!"
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 18
One hundred years ago, it would have been impossible to open a newspaper without reading something about Gallipoli. Back then, too, "glorious deeds" and "heroics" were words which were often plastered across the pages in bold headline type. Bold headlines, but also bold lies ...
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 18
The claim of 7000 Turkish losses on one day is a complete lie!
Whatever we might think and say about some of the appalling historic inaccuracies in the TV and radio programs being thrust down our throats right now, for Australia and New Zealand newspapers of late April and early May 1915, there was only one excuse: they were being deliberately and grossly misled by British government and military censorship, propaganda and misinformation.
This is the Corona 3 that Charles Bean, Australia's official war correspondent and later official war historian, is alleged to have used at Gallipoli. He certainly used it later in World War I, on the Western Front.
At Gallipoli, the word "typewriter" had two meanings: one was a machine-gun, used to kill men; the other for a machine used to kill the truth.
Back in Australia and New Zealand, wives, children and parents waited anxiously for word. Naturally, they believed that word, when printed in their newspapers, would be the truth. Instead, they were fed lies about a successful landing and an advance. The massive casualties were either not reported or shockingly understated. It would be four months before the typewriters of two journalists - Englishman Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett and Australian Keith Murdoch - would begin to type the words that would reveal what had really happened. And what was still happening on Gallipoli.
The landing at Anzac Cove, also known as the landing at Gaba Tepe, and to the Turks as the Arıburnu Battle, was part of the amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula by the forces of the British Empire, launching the land phase of the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War.
This map appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald the day before the landings.
The assault troops, mostly from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), arrived from Egypt across the Aegean Sea and landed at night on the western side of the peninsula. Although they failed to achieve their objectives, by nightfall the ANZACs had formed a tenuous beachhead.
The exact number of the day's casualties is not known. The ANZACs landed two divisions but more than 2000 men had been killed or wounded. Up to 400 alone lay dead on the beaches. The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage says one in five (that is 600) of the 3000 New Zealanders involved became a casualty. The Australian War Memorial has 643 dead between April 25-30 and 1805 in May. The Australian Government estimates 2000 wounded left Anzac Cove on 25 April, but more wounded were still waiting on the battlefields to be evacuated. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission documents that 754 Australian and 147 New Zealand soldiers died on April 25. During the whole Gallipoli campaign, 8708 Australians and 2721 New Zealanders were killed.
War correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett didn't land at Gallipoli until 9.30 on the night of April 25. By that time, the carnage had been going on for 17 hours. Ashmead-Bartlett’s dispatch about the landing at Anzac Cove was the first to reach Australia and a detailed account was published in Australian papers on May 8. Staff at General Headquarters had not recognised Bean as an official correspondent and his dispatch was not published in Australia until May 13.
Ashmead-Bartlett’s early dispatches praised the prowess and bravery of the troops, but they later became more critical of campaign leadership and what he believed was the futile sacrifice of so many men. On May 10 his dispatch in the Daily Telegraph in London warned readers of the strength of the Turkish troops. This differed from previous reports and was certainly a very different message from that in official communiques.
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 20
On May 27 Ashmead-Bartlett lost all his notes and possessions with the sinking of HMS Majestic off the Gallipoli peninsula. He returned to England to replace his typewriter and wardrobe and while he was there he attempted to advise politicians of the problems at Gallipoli. Back in Turkey, he continued to find his dispatches going missing or, those that did get through, cut to shreds. Commenting on what was blacked out of his typewritten copy, Ashmead-Bartlett said, "The articles resemble chicken out of which a thick nutritious broth has been extracted." Underneath the censor's thick black pen were the typewritten words of truth the public demanded and deserved to know. But the war lords were hellbent on lying ...

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