Letters From Gallipoli: New Zealand Soldiers Write Home

Edited by Glyn Harper


‘Professor Harper had done some masterly detective work evident both in his selection of letters from all arms and branches of the New Zealand army. He includes those generally left out, such as nurses, doctors, chaplains, and Red Cross helpers. He selects letters from all ranks and from a wide representation of the geographical representation of the New Zealand army on Gallipoli. . . . The book deserves to be widely read and ought for many years come to educate as well as inform us about on the truth of Gallipoli.’ – Frank Glen, NZ Military Historical Society Journal


Letters from Gallipoli offers a powerful first-hand account of a pivotal event in New Zealand’s history that will not fail to move and inspire readers.

The campaign at Gallipoli in 1915 looms large in New Zealand’s cultural memory. But what did the soldiers think of their time there? Here Glyn Harper lets these men speak for themselves, telling the story of the campaign through the letters of those who fought on the peninsula.

The revealing, often heartbreaking correspondence is grouped into chronological chapters – from preparation and landing to the burial truce, the August offensive on Chunuk Bair and the December withdrawal. The letters highlight the fortitude and comradeship that got the men through the trials of day-to-day life in the trenches: ‘heat, flies, bully-beef, broken sleep, night and day shooting or fighting or working’. Their details are poignant: praise for Australian mates and complaints about ‘Tommies’; reports of female Turkish snipers; jubilation at ground gained and heartfelt sorrow at friends killed. At times the soldiers put on brave faces and spin upbeat yarns about their experiences; at others they wrestle with the harrowing conditions and inadequate writing equipment to express, as clearly as they can, what war is like. 

Harper chose the 190 letters in this book, most of them previously unpublished, from more than 600 that he collected from archives, newspapers and family collections, and complements them with a comprehensive introduction, biographical notes on the letter writers, new maps and historic photographs.

With a foreword by Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, Chief of New Zealand Defence Force


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Glyn Harper is Professor of War Studies at Massey University, and, until mid 2011 was the director of its Centre of Defence and Securities Studies. A former teacher, he joined the Australian Army in 1988 and after eight years transferred to the New Zealand Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was the army’s official historian for the deployment to East Timor, and his seventeen books include studies of the Passchendaelemassacre,the Second Battle of the Somme, and New Zealand and the Victoria Cross. His most recent publications are Dark Journey: Three Key New Zealand Battles of the Western Front and Images of War: World War One: A Photographic Record of New Zealanders at War 1914–1918. He is now leading the production of a definitive history in nine volumes of the New Zealand involvement in WW1, in time for the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in 2015.

April 2011, 240 x 170 mm, 344 pages, illustrations
Paperback with flaps, ISBN 9781869404772, $45