Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tulloch & Reid, or Mason & Reid?

The northern flank of Anzac

As I have said before in another post, trying to put the different story-pieces of the jigsaw together is a dinkum challenge. For this reason some events I have included in my book are contrary to the line of Mr Charles Bean’s Official History. One being the story of Sergeant Mason (11 Battalion) who says he accompanied Lieutenant M. Reid (11Bn) on the morning of the Landing. Mason told his story to Chas Bean, but Bean chose not to include it in his book. I’m not sure why, because it seems to me that Mason is the only one who has left an account of the events near the Shepherd’s Hut on the morning of the Landing.

I think the reason Bean didn’t include SGT Mason’s account is that it conflicted with the account of Captain Tulloch (11Bn) who includes Reid in his story of events. Like me, David Cameron (author of “25 April 1915”), is unsure why Bean ignored Mason’s account, even though Cameron’s research revealed that Mason was regarded as a fellow with a “dependable, no nonsense” character. Cameron has loosely included Mason’s account, and Tulloch’s story both of which include reference to LT Reid being with them at different areas of the battlefield. As far as I can ascertain, there were not two LT M. Reid’s in the 11th Battalion on that day.

I have chosen to go along with Mason’s account, only juggling timings to try to get them to fit logically with Tulloch's story and other events. Bean, on the other hand tells only of Captain Tulloch’s adventure up the range, and almost totally ignores Mason’s fascinating story.

Possibly the trouble stems from confusing statements, some of which need careful study, clarification or expansion before being taken literally. When you read the statements written in Bean’s notebooks, you find that the stories are often all over the shop. One second someone will be talking about one area and then they’ll mention something they heard happened somewhere else. This is done usually without clarification and an unwary reader may come to the wrong conclusion. An example of this is revealed in Mason’s account when Bean records - in the morning his group went up onto Russell’s Top, and then mentions “Tulloch was wounded there & Lt Butler (12 Bn)”. The account then goes on to describe how Mason then went down to the Shepherd’s Hut. The casual reader may conclude from this that Tulloch and Butler were wounded before Mason and his party went down the slope, but they were not wounded until much later in the afternoon. According to Mason’s own account, he was not near these two officers for most of the day, so he probably heard the story of their wounding later, and was passing it on to Bean second or third hand.

In Captain Tulloch’s account, as told by Bean, Reid only plays a minor part. Whereas in SGT Mason’s story, Reid has a leading role in the events down at the Shepherd’s Hut.

The account of Reid’s fate in relation to Tulloch’s movements appears to be quite brief (but it is similar to Mason’s version); whereas Mason gives a much more detailed account, in comparison including things like "he said" and "we asked".

In the broad scheme of things, whether LT Reid was killed on Big 700 (Battleship Hill), or down near Outpost No1 is irrelevant to the whole story. But by telling Mason’s version I am able to tell the only available story of what happened on the northern flank; thus compelling me to tell Tulloch’s complete adventure up on Big 700, without mention of LT Reid.

So for these reason’s I’ve chosen to include LT Reid in Mason’s account, and fit it together with other events going on at the same time, as best as I can.


  1. Yes, I also believe Mason account, and they were down below B Hill and Baby 700. Mason was DCM for the Landing. I also believe the Turks had MGs at the early landings. Way too many credible accts from men there to discount. Chris Roberts writes a different account, but on the MGs I think he has it wrong. I just want those that were there who recorded what they experienced to be validated, and those who were killed and wounded by MG fire to be validated also.

    1. Yes, it's a shame people feel a need to change/rewrite history and put some "new information" into it. I have been told by a friend that one fellow has written a book claiming “Simpson” and his donkey was a fabricated story, and did not exist. I guess in their mind they are trying to set the record straight, but when you look at it - often they are just confusing things more. As for the question of MGs - I don’t think there is anything to be gained by saying none opposed the landing. What does it achieve? and where is the gain? I can’t really see the point. It all happened so long ago now, that all available information comes from written sources. No one can say that a “new” source is more accurate then the old source. For every argument saying one thing, you’ll find there’s an equal argument to counter it. I think it just gives academics something to talk about.

      Admittedly some minor mistakes like the ones I have highlighted at the back of my book can be straightened out without undue damage to the story. As I mention in the back of my book, where I discuss these changes and validate them, Bean warned that Turkish sources are "are most unreliable" and even the British records were not 100%.
      Layh (7Bn) says there was at least one MG firing at his party as it landed at the Fisherman's Hut. Soldiers know when an MG is being fired as opposed to rifle fire. So as you can see I take the notion of "no MGs opposing the landing" with a grain of salt. I share your desire to maintain the integrity of all the reports from people who were there. By saying there were no MGs opposing the landing the writers are saying "All those people are wrong." I don't think anyone who wasn't there can say for sure what happened. Even if they do have Turkish documents that say otherwise. We all know documents can be falsified, lost or just plain wrong; as also can people’s memoirs. Compare Ataturk’s account to Zeli Bey’s regarding the arrival at Chunuk Bair. They vary quite markedly when looked at closely. Yet broadly they are the same. Two different viewpoints of the same event.

      Thanks for the heads-up ref Mason's DCM. I was not aware he was recognised for what he had done. That's good to hear. I think that may further validate the idea LT Reid was with him. Have you seen the citation? If so was Reid mentioned in it? Thanks also for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog