Diary offers a glimpse of Gallipoli

17:00, Jun 27 2014
Gallipoli diary
MEMORIES: Bryan Mulligan, at the Invercargill Cenotaph, flicks through photos of his family that were taken by his great uncle Sandy.

A World War I diary written by an Invercargill man will be published online, but publishers say readers should expect the unexpected.

Web editor Bryan Mulligan, of Lower Hutt, came across a transcript of the diary of his great uncle Alexander Simpson Mulligan, known as Sandy, while visiting family in Invercargill in January.

"[He] came home, as many didn't, a lot of them didn't, unscathed and decorated," Mulligan said. He plans to publish the diary online like a live blog, offering a glimpse into his great uncle's life at Gallipoli.

"He joined on the 8th of August 1914, WW1 was declared on the 5th . . . he served right through, coming home in 1919, survived all that time."

The diary chronicles Sandy's experiences from August 8, 1914, until mid-December 1915.

"It's odd in the sense that it's really mundane. He talks about the water and swimming in Anzac cove and meeting mates and what he has for breakfast."


"There's no discussion of how terrible it was, how frightened he was, how upset he was when some of his friends were killed."

"It's great, he talks about how the dug out was warm and dry."

You can imagine him being blown to smithereens, Mulligan said.

"The enemy were trying to do that to him, and what he recorded was whether he would go for a swim that afternoon"

"It took me by surprise."

There was no vitriol or criticism about the war, Mulligan said.

Sandy landed at Gallipoli on April 27 1915, before being transferred to Europe mid-December 1915.

"In Europe he was transferred to the medical corps and moved up through the ranks to lieutenant."

"In the battle of Passchendaele, his job was to go into no-man's land and pick up the bodies and bring them back - dead or alive."

Sandy's work as a stretcher bearer led to him being decorated twice, receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and the Military Medal.

The diary and some of Sandy's photos were also going to be assembled for a book.

Copies of the book would be made for his family, as well as the Invercargill Public Library and the National Library.

The first entry diary entry was to be published on www.gallipolidiary.co.nz on the centenary of it being written, August 8.

The Southland Times