Thursday 10 September 2020

BOOK REVIEW “Walking Gallipoli” by Stephen Chambers, Pen & Sword

Written by Stephen Chambers, who is the webmaster of the Gallipoli Association, this book is from the Battleground series published by Pen & Sword and is one of several books Stephen has written about the Gallipoli Campaign of The First World War.

Due to the fact that none of my family members were involved in that theatre of WW1, I only recently became interested in the Gallipoli Campaign.  The main reason for my interest being because the WW1 soldier poet Rupert Brooke died on his way there and one or two other WW1 soldier poets were also involved.  And, although I knew about the British and Anzac involvement, I only recently became aware of the French Army and Navy’s involvement in the Campaign.  Over the years, I have read a great deal of criticism about the Gallipoli Campaign, however I feel it is unfair to criticise unless we have all the facts. In this book, Stephen Chambers sets the record straight about Gallipoli, before guiding us through a detailed walking tour of the battlefields in Turkey. 

There is so much of interest in this book that I could write reams but I was particularly interested to read about the “Evacuation Trail”, featured on page 226.  Sub Lieutenant Ivan Heald of the Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division (RND) was one of the poets featured in an exhibition of WW1 Aviator Poets held at Cosford Air Show in 2018.   I was fascinated to read that his poem “Evacuation” which you can read on page 227, was published in the “Liverpool Echo” newspaper on 19th February 1916.

I also appreciated the “Dangers” mentioned on page 244 as a warning for anyone visiting Gallipoli – “A lot of the area is still farmland and private property.” And “It is strictly forbidden by the Turkish authorities to remove any artefact from the battlefield”.  There is also a warning about ferocious dogs, wild boar and snakes.

This fantastic book really helps us to understand the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 in WW1.   With wonderful photographs and maps, a detailed Bibliography and an Index listing the incredible number of different forces involved and the Victoria Crosses (VCs) awarded, it is another ‘must read’ for anyone genuinely interested in the history of the First World War and definitely for anyone planning a visit to Gallipoli.   For further information, or to order a copy, please see the Pen & Sword website

“Walking Gallipoli” by Stephen Chambers (Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2019).