NARRATOR: This is Letters of Gallipoli. A re-telling of the landing at Gallipoli through letters and diary entries written one hundred years ago. The proceeds of this podcast go to Legacy, a charity dedicated to the memory and support of Australian military men and women. Episode 2: Any Day Now.
The following diary entry was written by Alexander Jackson Cunningham, a mechanical engineer with the 1st Division Train of the Army Service Corp, after he set sail for Gallipoli.
SFX: SHIP HORN, WAVES, WIND
MVO: We got away from Alexandria on Tuesday night, April 20th. We sailed in the “Suldanha”. It is a horse with only iron decks. There are 8 officers but only two cabins. Three of us started sleeping on deck, but as we come across the Mediterranean Sea, the wind was so bad
we could not keep bed clothes on, so were given between us the apprentices’ cabin. But this we found after one night’s sleep was full
of bugs, so came out on deck again to sleep.
SFX: [BACKGROUND] FAINT CANON FIRE
MVO: We took two-and-a-half days to cross over and are now at the Island of Lemnos, 40 miles from the Dardanelles, and as I write this I can hear the faint boom of big guns going off all the time.
SFX: [BACKGROUND] FAINT MARCHING AND CHATTER
MVO: We came to this island and have been here since April 23rd. Most of the other boats have gone but we are stuck here so are missing seeing the landing.
SFX: [BACKGROUND] GUNS/EQUIPMENT HANDLING
MVO: Any day now we shall get word to go. When we first got here the shipping in this bay was wonderful. There must have been over 200 troopships, and 20 or 25 warships.
SFX: [BACKGROUND] MARCHING FOOTSTEPS
MVO: On shore there are some Australian, French and Zouave troops in tents stationed on the island. Our men are going tomorrow for a route march on shore. We hear today that the landing was effected at the Dardanelles satisfactorily and that the Australians did good work,
but 37 of them were killed.
Alexander Jackson Cunningham's engineering skills were put to use in Gallipooli designing and constructing trenches and fortiifications.
Following his evacuation he was deployment to the Western front where he saw a significant amount of action.
In 1917 Cunningham was promoted to Captain and would go on to be awarded the military cross for his service in France and Belgium
Cunningham passed away in Heighton in Victoria in 1970. Lest we forget.
NARRATOR: This is Letters of Gallipoli. The proceeds of this podcast go to Legacy, a charity dedicated to the memory and support of Australian military men and women. Find out more at lettersofgallipoli.com