By Sarah Johnston
100 years ago this week, the New Zealanders still grimly hanging onto the slopes of Gallipoli were dealt yet another blow. After enduring a summer of searing heat, with vast swarms of flies and the dysentery they brought, the northern winter arrived. From November 26-28 a vicious snow storm lashed the peninsula.
Referred to by veterans ever afterwards as “The Blizzard,” the snow brought further misery to the men who were living in bivvies and shallow trenches. Thousands developed frostbite and over 200 died. Interviews with three New Zealand Gallipoli veterans held in the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision recall the snow, mud and frostbite. As one man says, it was then the “higher-ups” realised they couldn’t possibly hold on through the winter, and preparations were made for the evacuation from Gallipoli the following month.
You can hear a compilation of these recollections in the 'Battle in the Blizzard'. It is one of the new archival film and sound items uploaded to the website this month. The site, which is a collaboration between Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, will continue to be updated with new material over the remaining three years of the WWI anniversary period.
Hero image: Two Australian soldiers standing in the snow outside a dugout on the Gallipoli Peninsula during WWI. (Source - Australian War Memorial)