Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, July 15, 2019

Churchill vs. Bean

Charles Bean in Egypt Prior to Departure
for the Beaches

Official Australian War Historian Charles Bean’s assessment of Gallipoli’s outcome for Australians was not well appreciated by Winston Churchill.

Quoting Churchill’s response in full:  “The writer of the Australian Official History has thought it right to epitomize the story in the following concluding sentence—

‘So through a Churchill’s excess of imagination, a layman’s ignorance of artillery, and the fatal power of a young enthusiasm to convince older and slower brains, the tragedy of Gallipoli was born’.

It is my hope that the Australian people, towards whom I have always felt a solemn responsibility, will not rest content with so crude, so inaccurate, so incomplete and so prejudiced a judgement, but will study the facts for themselves.”

Bean wrote 21 diaries covering his time at Anzac, which began on the day of the first landing, 25 April 1915.  This was his entry for the day he finally departed:

18 December 1915: So I have left old Anzac. In a way I was really fond of the place. I have certainly had some quite enjoyable times there in my old dugout - yarning to friends; or going round lines. I can't pretend that I ever liked the shells or attacks – but one came to put up with them much as one does with a toothache.

Sources: “Australia’s Foreign Wars: Origins, Costs, Future?!”; Australian War Memorial Archives

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