|Albert Jacka VC at Mudros c 29 August 1915 Australian War Memorial image P02141|
As well as the local commanders such as Generals Monash and Birdwood, the Dean of Sydney (Dr. Talbot) presided at a concert for resting Anzac troops. General Monash wrote of the need to improve conditions for the troops and nurses on Lemnos.
One of Australia’s most famous Anzacs and Victoria Cross winner, Albert Jacka, was on Lemnos and was photographed outside his tent. Lance Corporal Jacka was the first member of the AIF to recieve the Victoria Cross, for his bravery in the defence of the trenches at Courtney's Post on the night of 18th-19th May 1915. For further information about Albert Jack VC got to the Australian Department of Veteran's Affairs website here. His enlistment papers can be seen here.
British General Kitchener visited Lemnos on November 1915, where he held a conference with General Birdwood and senior commanders. It was during this conference that the decision to evacuate was made.
|General Munro speaking to Lord Kitchener - General Alkam, IGC, and General Sir John Maxwell Australian War Memorial image G00566|
"(Mudros) Harbour with the transports and convoys reminds one of Albany”At the peninsula from April, he would take part in the battle of Lone Pine in August and is recorded as leading his men in skirmishes.
Rupert Brooke, the British war-poet and officer in the Royal Naval Brigade, was briefly present on Lemnos and wrote about the Island. He wrote in 1915 on his arrival that Lemnos was:
“Softly white, grey, silver-white buildings, some very old, some new, round a great harbour – all very Southern: like an Italian town in silver-paint, liveable and serene, with a sea and sky of opal and pearl and faint gold around.”Rupert Brooke would never reach Gallipoli. He became sick and died, being buried on the Island of Skyros, where the Royal Naval Division was based prior to its relocation to Gallipoli.
|Skyros Island, Greece. 1915. A practice marine landing on the shore of the island by men of the British Royal Naval Division. H16462|
|Rupert Brooke's Grave, Skyros.|
His autobiography records the horrors of the campaign on the peninsula as well as his memories of Mudros Harbour, of "the size and beauty of the place ... It was very calm in the harbour and there was a peaceful kind of feeling..."
Another author who spent time at Lemnos was Sydney Loch, who wrote a critical memoir of the Gallipoli campaign - The Straits Impregnable - that would be banned by the Australian government censor. Like many Australian troops prior to the landing, he remained on board his troopship. but he wrote of Lemnos
"I never quite shook off the glamour of that island in the deep blue of the Aegean. Never was there an early morning when the skies were not blue and waters unruffled. Breezes softer and more scent than human kisses floated perpetually to us from the hills of Lemnos."
|Group portrait of Officer Commanding and Officers of No. 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps in front of a Bristol F2B fighter aircraft. McGuinness is at the back row, second from right. Ramleh, Ottoman Empire, November 1918. AWM B01238.|
McGinness described his part in the first wave writing that as he left the trench “all hell broke loose”. Hit but not wounded by numerous bullets, he was knocked unconscious in a fall and eventually made it back to the Australian trenches. Only one other member of his troop survived this attack. Out of 705 officers and men of his unit, 345 were killed in this charge (including the squadron’s commander, Major Redford, and the commander of the brigade, Lieutenant Colonel White), with hundreds more wounded. His were also killed. After the evacuation of the peninsula, McGinness spent time at Mudros on Lemnos.
He would go on to serve in the Middle East, rising to the rank of Sergeant and then joining the fledgling Australian Flying Corps as a Lieutenant. He would survive the war and his skills as a pilot gained during the war would eventually lead him to be one of the co-founders of Australia’s national airline, QANTAS.
And of course, John Simpson - famed for his donkey (another Lemnian) - was on Lemnos.
|202 Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, 3rd Field Ambulance Brigade (enlisted as Simpson), assisting an unidentified British soldier, wounded in the leg, being carried by a donkey. Gallipoli Peninsula, May 1915. Australian War Memorial J06392|