Stunning war images and soldier's diary uncovered
A TREASURE trove of stunning images and a soldier's diary all dating back nearly a century have come into the possession of Maroochydore RSL sub-branch.
But while it is anxious to unlock the stories behind the photographs of soldiers at war in Gallipoli, sub branch president Michael Liddelow said its first responsibility was to locate the owner and offer them back.
The diary's roots are well understood. It belonged to Corporal Frank Edward Favell a sapper attached to the Signal Company Engineers Reinforcement who was wounded at Lone Pine.
The diary was donated to the Maroochydore RSL Military Museum by his son Neil.
A series of circumstances dating back to 1974 led to more than 100 negatives containing pictures of outstanding quality being donated to the branch last year.
They were part of a collection of negatives and film handed to Michael Lean in the Queensland Government Printers in Brisbane in 1974 by a woman who wanted to know if he could do anything with them.
Mr Lean produced proof sheets but the woman never returned. He kept the film and proofs in a draw until he took them with him to his retirement at Woodgate.
Maroochydore Sub-Branch members Frank and Peni Piper met Mr Lean at an RSL conference in Maryborough where they told him about the Maroochydore museum.
Mr Lean travelled down to look at the set up and last May donated the collection of images all of which are of national historical significance.
"We were gob smacked by what we were given,'' RSL director Drew Wall said.
Haunted faces stare out from slits in a trench wall that served as beds for soldiers on the front line, a donkey-towed cart floats past crosses on a hillside as the smoke of battle rises behind them, landing barges lay scattered indiscriminately on the shoreline, diggers pose eyes to camera in ANZAC Cove while in the background naked comrades wash off the grime of war in the bay.
"Of 150 negatives there were only four that we couldn't get an image,'' Drew said.
"Not all are of Gallipoli. There are others in Egypt, in PNG during World War Two and some from Vietnam."
Others are family and personal shots of people on holiday in England and of a house that may be located in the Brisbane riverside suburb of Hamilton.
The best clue to their antecedents is an envelope that came with the collection sent from Melbourne on 19-3-1973 addressed to Ted Williams of 5RAR at Goldie River Barracks, Boroko, PNG.
The sub-branch has been in touch with 5 RAR which has confirmed it had a Warrant Officer Second Class Edward Peter Williams in its ranks. Attempts are being made to locate and contact him.
Mr Liddelow said the sub-branch is keen to put the images on display and would be delighted to be able to build its contribution to the centenary commemoration in 2015 of the 1915 Gallipoli landing.
But first it wants to locate their rightful owner to hand over the negatives and seek permission to copy them.
That exercise may also uncover invaluable information about their antecedents.
Mr Wall said the part of the collection dating back to the World War One showed Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli and Egypt and also family photos of a trip to England and a home in Brisbane from around 1960.
"The photographer I suspect is a medical orderly because there are multiple shots showing men with Red Cross arm bands, stretchers and trumbles (wheeled stretcher carts),'' he said.
"It would have been rare to have a Digger with a camera taking his own photos on Gallipoli."
Mr Wall said he was stunned by the quality of the negatives given their age and the battlefront conditions both they and the camera would have endured.
DIARY of a SOLDIER
FRANK Edward Favell hit the beach at ANZAC Cove at 4am on April 25, 1915.
In a strong cursive hand he recorded the death and despair that was to follow in a diary donated to Maroochy RSL by his son Neil of Maroochydore.
For Neil the donation was a simple choice.
"I knew they could look after it better than I could,'' he said.
His father was 20 when he went to war, was injured at Gallipoli where he celebrated his 21st birthday and was repatriated to Australia.
He re-enlisted as an instructir but eventually returned to the fray as a signalman in Egypt to be with his mates.
There he was badly injured again. A piece of shrapnel that hit him in the head required surgery to remove leaving a hole the size of a fifty cent piece.
Neil said this week that his father was put in a corner and was expected to die.
In fact he survived, returned to Australia where Neil was born in 1935 and lived until his mid 70s after a career as an engineer with the NSW Railways.
This is his account of those first bloody days at Gallipoli.
Arrived off Gallipoli about 4am Sunday 25-4-15. Warships shell GABA TEPE forts on our right.
Were landed under shell fire at 7am being towed by pinaces. No casualties to our party.
Continuous shell fire on both sides. Bde Hd Qrs established at foot of A.C gully on beach.
At evening moved to top of hill. Attached to Staff Capt King for communication purposes.
Enemy's snipers very busy during night.
Third Bde had landed in despite of strong oppositions and took a couple of ridges at the point of bayonet at about 3am. Heavy losses were suffered by our troops.
Was down on beach all day. Three shells from enemy's forts fired at beach on dropping in Div Hd Qrs but doing no damage.
Under heavy shrapnel all day. Great numbers of wounded being brought in. Bde Hd Qrs moved to top of hill near shrapnel gully. Snipers very troublesome.
Shelling of transports begun at daybreak by (Goeben?) or forts. Some going very near their mark.
H.M.S. Majestic also fired at and shells sent sprays of water half as high again as her masts.
Had to move to another dugout. Still under heavy gun fire.
Both Bde Major (Irvine) and Brigadier (McLauren) were killed this afternoon.
Led ammunition column up to First Bde. We were very hard pressed on this evening but our men proved equal to the occasion. Every available man in firing line.
Turned in at 4am up again at 6am and at 8 was attached to my section. Very marked decrease in the number of casualties.
Indian Mountains Batteries doing very good work. First Bde relieved by R.M.L.I. about 4,000 strong and at 10pm go into firing line. Raining during night.
Nothing much to report on. General Trotman takes over command of First Bde in the place of Col. Owen (temporally) of 3rd Bn.
Good deal of sniping going on. Turkish attack repulsed with heavy losses. It was like shooting rabbits. Hundreds of them.