Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

A letter from Gallipoli

During World Wars I and II, a program to support alumni, staff and students on active duty was in place at the State Teacher Training College and its successors. Letters were sent out and many service personnel responded by writing to the principal, or simply to 'College'. One such letter was written by William Hoggart in 1915 to the principal, Dr John Smyth.

Hoggart's letter was read aloud at the ANZAC day commemorations of the College for many years. To aid the reader, occasional pencil marks were added to indicate places where pauses were required.

William Ross Hoggart, alumnus of the University of Melbourne and teacher at Melbourne Grammar School, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in September 1914 at the age of 38. He was assigned the rank of captain in the 14th Battalion, commanded by Colonel John Monash, and he embarked for duty overseas on 22 December 1914. After a brief stop in Western Australia, the Brigade arrived in Egypt at the end of January. The 4th Brigade landed at ANZAC Cove on the afternoon of 25 April 1915. In this letter, Hoggart refers to divisional exercises and records his impressions of Egypt and humorous aspects of life on board his transport vessel. He briefly refers to war propaganda as he prepares for battle.

Hoggart was killed in action just a few days after writing this letter. According to his service record he was buried at Quinn's Hill, but the exact location of his grave is unknown. His personal effects were sent to his wife Rebecca and two daughters, Jean and Margery. Both the Education Department and the University of Melbourne published war records, containing brief biographies of alumni, students and staff who served on active duty.

Listen to A letter from Gallipoli (mp3).

A letter from Gallipoli transcript

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