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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library

Souvenir of Gallipoli

By Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, Metadata Services | 13 March 2015

Whilst many servicemen returned with souvenirs of their service at Gallipoli, not many resemble the one recently uncovered from the collections of the State Library. The more usual type of souvenir would be related to weapons and ammunition, some they carried with them for the rest of their lives as wounds.

There were other forms of souvenirs fortunately that have survived, highly decorated with flags and patriotic verse, manufactured for servicemen as keepsakes, and small enough to send to family back home.

Searching the repositories of the State Library for material that related to the First World War was part of the brief of the Q ANZAC 100 team, and with this they struck gold.

Souvenir of Gallipoli

Souvenir of the Great World War and the glorious part played by Australia and New Zealand. 7795 Morrison Family papers, State Library of Queensland.

This cloth souvenir was included in a substantial family collection, but is the only item that relates to the First World War. How it was acquired cannot be determined, but it was most certainly created as a keepsake for Australian and New Zealand servicemen between 1914-1918.

Printed on very fine cotton, it is too fine to be what we would identify as a tea-towel, perhaps a scarf ? It measures approximately 460 x 600 cm and would make a fine framed object. The central image depicts "The Landing of our Gallant Sons of Empire on the Gallipoli Peninsula". The corners have smaller vignettes featuring the port and starboard views of the Sydney and Emden ships. Included are ten flags from various units from Australia and Germany.

Detail of cloth souvenir

Detail of 'Landing of our Gallant Sons', souvenir of Gallipoli. 7795 Morrison Family papers, State Library of Queensland.

A search of other collecting institutes revealed two other copies held in Australia, one at the National Library of Australia, the other held in the textiles collection of the Museum of Victoria.

This item is very well preserved with little fading or foxing visible on fabric. Textiles are an unusual find in a library, which is generally a paper based repository, and this one is a delight.

This item has been digitised, and can be viewed at Google Arts & Culture in high-resolution format.


 Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, State Library of Queensland


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