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Introduction to the stories

Bruce Scates introduces four stories on the theme of women’s mobilisation on the battlefield.
BRUCE SCATES: Welcome back to “The 100 Stories.” I’m standing on North Beach, on the shores of Aegean. And that great clay face, jutting out from the reach above us, was dubbed ‘The Sphinx’ by the first Anzac troops to land here. They’d come fresh from Egypt. And calling that feature of the landscape, ‘The Sphinx’, was a way of normalising the insane world that was erupting all around them, making this place somehow more familiar, more bearable. And stretching out from the foot of ‘The Sphinx’ is a great natural amphitheatre. In 1915, it was a site for stores, hospitals, munitions, and a forest of tents.
In 2015, it became the site of the centennial commemorations here at Anzac, marking 100 years since the day of the landing. On that day, thousands of people walked the length of that low wall behind us. It’s both a map and a timeline. And it’s designed to introduce travellers, many of whom have no knowledge of the campaign, to what actually happened here at Anzac, or at least some of what happened. This is a soldier-centered narrative. These panels privilege the experience of men, fighting men mostly. And they say nothing, absolutely nothing, about the nurses who served here on this campaign.
Australian and New Zealand nurses served here, well, almost here, about a mile out to sea, anchored off the shores of Gallipoli in hospital ships. And on those hospital ships, they took on board the wounded, droves and droves of wounded. And from here, they made a long and painful journey all across the Aegean, to Alexandria, to Lemnos, to Malta. Contemporaries called it the red triangle. And that says something about the suffering of that long and slow journey. On the day of the landing, there were only two hospital ships within easy reach of Anzac. Their decks were overflowing with the wounded within the first few hours of the fighting.
Badly injured men lined the decks of the warships, decks that were said to be awash with blood. The medical war at Gallipoli was little short of a disaster. And every nurse’s diary tells us just that. This next module in “The 100 Stories” looks at women’s work in war. And it begins with the story of the nurses.

Watch Bruce Scates introduce the four stories from Shrapnel Valley, Gallipoli in Turkey.

After you’ve watched the stories, we’ll be asking you to reflect and share your thoughts on how each story explores aspects of women’s mobilisation on the battlefield.

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World War 1: A History in 100 Stories

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