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Today's Honour Roll

May
22
Today's Honour Roll recognizes 83 Australians who fell on this day in history.
See Full List
Name Date of Death Conflict
MIDDLEMISS, Kenneth McGregor 22 May 1916 World War 1
MURPHINE, Oscar Dinely 22 May 1916 World War 1
FINNIE, Alexander 22 May 1918 World War 1
MCKANDRY, John Lawrence 22 May 1953 Korean War
BRAMBLE, Peter John 22 May 1969 Vietnam War

Gallipoli Truce

One of the most heart breaking and emotional events of the Gallipoli campaign was the truce agreed by the British Empire and Ottoman combatants on May 24, 1915. This unique event was only officially sanctioned cessation of hostilities to have occurred during the Great War. Formal ceasefires and truces in order to manage the desposal of the dead and treatment of the wounded had been a regular practice throughout the history of warfare. The famous 'Christmas Truce' of 1914 was different because that was a spontaneous event driven by ordinary soldiers going against the wishes of their commanders on both sides.

As the fighting neared a month long, the numbers of soldiers from both sides who had died in 'no man's land' were reaching catastrophic levels. After an Ottoman attack on the 19th of May, nearly 3000 lay rotting between the trenches.

After several days of difficult negotiations, a Turkish officer was led blindfold on a mule along a beach south of Anzac to begin a protracted negotiation at Anzac headquarters. A nine-and-a half-hour truce was agreed upon for the 24th of May to allow the respectful burial of the dead on both sides to take place. Throughout the day, parties of men roamed through 'no man's land', identifying and burying the dead. Officers met and communicated through sign language, and enemy trenches were covertly examined for future attacks.

May 24 had been Queen Victoria's Birthday and was now celebrated throughout the British Commonwealth as Empire Day.

It is notable that the only officially sanctioned ceasefire of the war was due to public health needs.

A witness account from Private Victor Laidlaw of the Australian 2nd Field Ambulance described the day: [1]

The armistice was declared from 8:30 a.m. this morning till 4:30 p.m. it is wonderful, things are unnaturally quiet and I felt like getting up and making a row myself, the rifle fire is quiet, no shell fire. The stench round the trenches where the dead had been lying for weeks was awful, some of the bodies were mere skeletons, it seems so very different to see each side near each other's trenches burying their dead, each man taking part in the ceremonies is called a pioneer and wears 2 white bands on his arms, everybody is taking advantage of the armistice to do anything they want to do out of cover and a large number are down bathing and you would think today was Cup Day down at one of our seaside beaches.


The dead being buried during the truce. 1915
AWM P01815.010
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C272667


Rreferences:

[1] Laidlaw, V. R. (1914). Diaries of Private Victor Rupert Laidlaw, 1914-1984 [manuscript].