The Letter That Changed Australian History

Video highlights from Captured In Time

23 September 2016 marks 101 years since Keith Murdoch wrote his letter exposing the situation at Gallipoli

Known as The Gallipoli Letter, journalist Keith Murdoch and war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett’s missive to Prime Minister Andrew Fisher changed the course of Australian history forever.

The letter was written on 23 September 1915 after Murdoch returned to London from a four-day trip to Gallipoli, describing the situation as “undoubtedly one of the most terrible chapters in our history.”

The 28 page letter describes the horrific truth about Gallipoli. “Your fears have been justified,” Murdoch wrote. “This unfortunate expedition has never been given a chance.”

Murdoch’s letter, full of bleakness and honesty was never submitted to the military censors, running contrary to the censorship rules of the time.

His brutal report to the Prime Minister played a key role in ending the Gallipoli campaign and the evacuation of Anzac troops. 

By January 1916, all of the Allied troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli without loss of life.

Speaking in 2014, Lachlan Murdoch, Keith Murdoch’s grandson, said, ““Officially, my grandfather was to report on problems with postal services to Australian troops but Fisher wanted all the facts about the campaign, honestly and unfiltered.”

“Keith Murdoch’s Gallipoli letter was Australia’s boldest declaration that our nation had a right to know the truth,” he said.

Learn more about Gallipoli here

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit