History

The Goldsmiths-Gallipoli Connection

The memorial to staff and students at Goldsmiths who died during the Great War. Image: Anna Burns

The memorial to staff and students at Goldsmiths who died during the Great War. Image: Anna Burns

‘They Died For Freedom And Honour’

Walk into Goldsmiths Richard Hoggart building, and this is the epitaph you’ll see carved across the college war memorial.

Of the 109 soldiers named on that board, several died in the nine-month, bloody battle of Gallipoli – and now, thanks to a dedicated project by Goldsmiths History Department, we’re beginning to build a picture of their lives.

Dr. Rosie Kennedy is leading the third-year history students in their research, which has so far uncovered the fate of five college alumni.

Dr. Rosie Kennedy

Dr. Rosie Kennedy. Image: Rosie Kennedy

But if the Goldsmiths epitaph, with its talk of freedom and honour, conjures up a picture of heroic deaths, it turns out that the truth is rather more prosaic.

While two of the student soldiers died in action, the fate of the others seems to have been sealed away from the battlefield, and was probably far from dignified.

With searing heat and poor sanitation, conditions on Turkey’s northwest coast were rife for all manner of epidemics, and records indicate that the soldiers were ultimately defeated by common, normally curable illnesses.

In the interview below, Dr Kennedy details the findings of her history students so far, and tells how their work will contribute to a wider research project on the First World War.

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