Author Topic: Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915  (Read 162 times)

Offline Krithia Spur

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Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915
« on: December 11, 2021, 01:52:49 PM »
The Alec Riley book is starting to gather momentum with some well know authorities on Gallipoli going out of their way to promote it – this is the latest post from Jim Grundy:

https://www.facebook.com/180766336685/photos/a.10153075839986686/10159702296831686/?type=3

"Meet an instant classic: Alec Riley's “Gallipoli Diary 1915.”

The most important aim of this page is to record the experiences of those who served at Gallipoli — and in their own words. Most valuable of all are the words set down at the time while their memories were still fresh, written without the benefit of hindsight or other external influences.

Sadly, certainly compared to the Western Front, Gallipoli is relatively poorly served when it comes to personal memoirs. There are classic accounts, perhaps Joe Murray's “Gallipoli As I Saw It,” being the best known. But they are quite rare. Indeed, the very best collections of personal experiences are to be found in modern books such as Peter Hart's “Gallipoli” and Richard van Emden's and Stephen Chambers' “Gallipoli. The Dardanelles Disaster in Soldiers' Words and Photographs.”

It is our great good fortune, therefore, to have access to a hitherto unpublished personal account. Alec Riley, a signaller in the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, served at Helles from early May until his evacuation due to jaundice four months later. He kept a detailed diary during that time but, despite his elegant prose style, could find no publisher for the manuscript during his lifetime.

Editors Michael Crane and Bernard de Broglio, who rediscovered the text, have now enabled us to read Riley's diary, supported by detailed footnotes and biographies of the men mentioned in the text. All of this is illustrated by excellent maps, locating exactly where the events described took place. But, even better, the book includes many of the author's own photographs taken during his private visits to the peninsula in the 1930s. Riley's thoughts as he walked over the old battlefields are also included and his reaction after scaling the heights of Achi Baba somewhat 'late' can be imagined. Or, even better, read.

Riley wrote vividly. At the same time, he did not tell of daring-do or sentimentalise his time on the peninsula. Instead, we are presented with the authentic voice of a man who lived in a place where the smell of the dead was “so strong that we seemed to be eating it.”

This is an extremely important addition to Gallipoli library; worthy of inclusion in the most complete collections. The editors are to be thanked for giving us access to it now — an instant classic, 90 years after it was produced.

Highly recommended."  Jim Grundy

The book is now readily available on Amazon in all three forms -  Kindle, softback and hardback:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gallipoli-Diary-1915-Alec-Riley-ebook/dp/B09LV1RD68/ref=zg_bsnr_271431_10/261-0791490-5356112?pd_rd_i=B09LV1RD68&psc=1






Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2021, 02:21:31 PM »
An excellent review from an informed person. Congratulations.
Following one Platoon and everything around them....
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Offline Krithia Spur

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Re: Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2021, 02:25:43 PM »
Many thanks Tim,

Both Bern and myself are thrilled for Alec Riley more than anything - its a wonderful privilege to be able to achieve for him what he was not able to do in his own lifetime.

His is an amazing story and one that should be available to a wide audience.

Regards,

Mike

Offline Tim Bell

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Re: Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2021, 07:19:56 AM »
Peter Hart has also given a 5 star review on Facebook.
Following one Platoon and everything around them....
http://17thmanchesters.wordpress.com/about/

Offline Krithia Spur

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Re: Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2021, 07:23:01 PM »
Hi Tim,

Yes, Peter has also been very generous in his praise for the book.

Peter was one of the very first to read the book [we sent him a proof copy] and he recognised the importance of Riley's account straight away.

ATB

Mike   

Offline Krithia Spur

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Re: Alec Riley Gallipoli Diary 1915
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2021, 07:27:24 PM »
Peter Hart's review:

The two editors present this valuable account of the experience of Alec Riley, a young signaller at Gallipoli which they have rescued from the relative obscurity of long-term preservation in the IWM Department of Documents.

The book also offers a window into the daily tedium and discomforts of life in the trenches at Gallipoli. This was a deliberate decision by the author who recognised that moments of dramatic fighting were relatively rare. To understand the ‘real’ Gallipoli you have to understand the monotony, the heat, the flies and the bouts of dysentery. He also brings back to life the men with which he served in No 4 Signal Section, 1/1st East Lancashire Division Signal Company, Royal Engineers. Is routine boring? Well, it may have seemed ordinary back then, but now detailed accounts like this are our window into a strange world. What did they eat? How did they physically exist in such awful conditions? Could they sleep? How did they carry out their various signalling duties? What would go wrong? What did they think of it all? How did they behave as men? What did they talk about? Many of the answers can be found in this book.

They sailed from Alexandria in the Derfflinger and on 6 May 1915, Riley landed via a jetty at W Beach. And so it began. It was all new to Riley and as he learns what Gallipoli was all about, so do we, following his every move attached to the various battalions of the Manchester Brigade. One of his jobs was running out and maintaining telephone wires, then manning the telephones either in the front lines or back at headquarters. They were constantly in danger from desultory shell fire and snipers. Almost nowhere at Gallipoli was a safe haven. The weather certainly played a part: early on Riley found it too cold at night, suffered occasional torrential rain and floods as on 25 May and then found it far too hot for comfort. We note the gradual onset of dysentery and other ailments. The drip, drip, drip of casualties. Then there were the fanciful rumours, the jokes, the rough humour that helped keep them going. Everything is made clear by a series of excellent maps and photos which allow us to follow Riley in his travels around Helles.

As signallers, they have a detached view of the main battles. Riley is too far back to really experience the horrors of Third Krithia on 4 June, but as an observer, he had a good view of events, particularly of the wounded as they made their way back. 

A couple of episodes have a real emotional impact. For instance, the stench of bodies lying in front of one front line trench almost certainly included emanations from Private Jack Crane, the great uncle of one of the editors who had been killed at that very spot a few days earlier on 7 June. Also, the ‘war on maggots’ might cause a shiver to the more sensitive reader! The death of his chess-playing companion, Private Arthur Poole on 4 July also struck a chord.

The end comes on 8 September when Riley is evacuated with a typical Gallipoli cocktail of disease including dysentery, jaundice, diphtheria, and multiple septic sores.
 
As a bonus, we are treated to a mass of supporting appendices amassed by the editors, including biographies of many of the key people we have encountered. We also have Riley’s impressions of his post-war visits to Gallipoli.

Riley’s book will take its place amongst the very best Gallipoli accounts. No grandstanding, no purple prose, just a brilliant reflection of the raw mixture of nerve-shredding drama tedium, and discomfort that typified life on the Peninsula. Curated and brought to publication by two acknowledged Gallipoli experts. Its long-delayed publication is a real event. It really is a cracking read!
Peter Hart

https://www.facebook.com/682432089/posts/10160002828307090/