Souvenir of Gallipoli

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 the State Library for material that relates to the First World War is part of the brief of the Q ANZAC 100 team, and this week they struck gold.

Souvenir of the Great World War

Souvenir of the Great World War

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 Pennsula". 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 'Landing of our Gallant Sons'

Detail of 'Landing of our Gallant Sons'

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 earmarked to be digitised, so that it will be soon available in all its glory, via the State Library of Queensland's catalogue in a high resolution digital format.


 Marg Powell, Content Technician, Q ANZAC 100, State Library of Queensland


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What do the words at the top say?

This object is most likely a handkerchief - typical of souvenirs made during World War I. Many of them were printed or embroidered on silk or cotton, with flags and patriotic images. They were available to soldiers in leave locations and often sent home to loved ones. The Army Museum North Queensland has two framed WWI handkerchiefs on display, but not of this pattern.

I Have one of these. just getting it framed.

I have just donated one of these to my local RSL.

I'm sure that Canberra War Museum has one on display when I was last there. I have one as well handed down from my Grandfather.