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ANZAC 'Album' Made by Wounded Gallipoli Veterans

 
ANZAC 'Album' Made by Wounded Gallipoli Veterans by DOWNING, R B  [J Dunbar] (1915)

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Author: DOWNING, R B [J Dunbar]
Title: ANZAC 'Album' Made by Wounded Gallipoli Veterans
 
Year: 1915
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Malta & Gallipoli
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £2500
 
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Added under Manuscripts  

Gallipoli campaign drawings, poems and prayers of thanks from ANZAC, British and Canadian servicemen injured during the invasion which include a portrait of a ragged Australian soldier entitled: 'After a week at the Dardanelles.' The album was compiled for nursing Sister R B Downing, a woman described in this manuscript as one of 'the Florence Nightingales of Malta'. Altogether a remarkable document.

Small octavo album (10x16cm) bound in diced black roan over card covers with 'Album' in gilt to the upper cover. Much of the backstrip is missing but the binding is intact if delicate, chipping to the edges of the covers. All edges gilt. Blue marbled endpapers with 'R B Downing 5.1.15' on the first flyleaf and the original price of the blank album '1/6' in pencil overleaf. 112 pages of varying colour and texture of papers, one leaf detached.

The album was compiled by R B Downing (addressed in the fondest terms - 'Shall always remember Sister Downing for the kindness shown to me...' throughout) who followed a stint nursing casualties from the western front at St Mark's College, Chelsea, west London in 1914 (10 preliminary pages) before she transferred to 'Ward 24. Intarfa [Mtarfa] 24/6/1915' immediately after the newly built hospital was opened. Her move was to care for the flood of injured servicemen who came to Malta from the increasingly desperate theatre of war in the Dardanelles. It was in Malta that she cared for and collected these 16 drawings, 3 poems and nearly one hundred varied inscriptions of Gallipoli casualties who included 26 Australians, 6 New Zealanders, 1 Canadian and 59 British servicement.

The drawings of the Australian veteran 'J Dunbar' of the 13th Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces, make up the most memorable contribution to the book and include two double page drawings, the second of which shows an injured Australian serviceman, swathed in bandages, talking to a nurse and his 'Doctor: And what were your impressions during the fighting?' Patient Three: Sir: Two Bullets and a piece of Shrapnel. J.D. 13th Batt. A.I.F. Sydney N.S.Wales.' Dunbar also drew a particularly moving portrait of a ragged ANZAC entitled 'After a week at the Dardanelles' - enough said.

In an earlier drawing Dunbar depicts a sinking battleship, makes a triple portrait of 'Three Australians' which shows injured servicemen reading the Sydney Morning Herald', an Australian newspaper boy and 'Dressed to Kill', the portrait of a smart officer. Duncan also presented Sister Downing with a sunlit crest for 'Patients of Australian Expeditionary Force. Ward 24. Im.Tarfa. Malta' which allowed six other injured Australian servicemen to sign their names along the sun's rays.

The signatures of ANZAC casualties start to appear from the moment that Sister Downing transferred to Malta in June 1915, the first being a grateful inscription from 'Sgt Leslie F Cooper "D" Company 7th battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade 1st Australian Imperial Force Wounded May 18th 1915 at Gaba Tepe. Dardanelles. Shepparton Victoria Australia.' One of very few officers in the book, Captain J W Hetherington, wrote a whole page acknowledging the 'kindness and tender attention rendered by the Florence Nightingales of Malta', describing himself as a member of 'Australian Imperial Forces wounded at Gaba Sepe, Gallipoli, Turkey on the 25th April/15 the day of the memorable landing on the the Peninsula. Advance Australia. A young country under a glorious old flag.' Among the New Zealanders' writings is a page long inscription by Alan J Wilson 'Kia Ora' of Bolton Street, Wellington. B G Edwards of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles also drew the crest of the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces

The book contains several original poems including one by J J Wilson (County of London Regiment) who contributed a two page verse,'When from the seat of hellish war...' Private J Green writes an impassioned poem about the loss of a friend whose death from a shot in the back he witnessed at close quarter, entitled 'Only of a Bomber' and beginning 'Well it was a dirty wet night in the trenches...'. Many of the wounded servicemen record the sometimes bizarre nature of their injuries, so the laconic 'Alfred Coad H.M.S. Orsova... Never hang on to a stern Rope.' In addition to the drawings already noted there is a satirical portrait of a suffragette by G Illingworth and an accomplished pen and ink drawing of a 'Lecture to Recruits' by the future artist 'Sidney D Moss 1915 Jan' (1885-1946).
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