[Imbros], 'R.E. Printing Section, G.H.Q., M.E.F.', 1915.
A broadside (337 × 212 mm), printed in two columns (recto only).
Good-quality paper lightly foxed; issued unfolded, it is now creased horizontally and vertically (sometimes sharply) with tiny splits at the ends of some folds, and in the centre of two intersecting folds; overall a very good copy of a Gallipoli field newsletter, rare at the time, now almost unknown on the open market.
'Peninsula Press' began as a daily newsletter, with the first issue on 10 May 1915; it ceased with Number 96 on 10 January 1916. It was issued daily with few exceptions until 31 July, and approximately twice-weekly thereafter. It was printed on Imbros and issued to Allied troops in the Middle East by General Headquarters, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. One main aim was to counter the misinformation spread by 'furphies' or 'latrinograms'. 'As befitted its purpose as an official communication, the tone of the paper was always self-congratulatory and dismissive of the enemy. It was good propaganda writing ... From early July 1915 a most significant change is noticeable in the "Peninsula Press". There was a marked reduction in comment on the Peninsular campaign in sharp contrast to the frequency of reference in earlier editions' (David Kent, 'Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society', December 1992). The five sections of this issue (Progress in France; The Retaking of Lemberg; Military Honours; Fighting in Albania; and Items of Interest) don't run exactly according to this script. Noted in the Military Honours is Major-General Sir William Birdwood, commander of the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli. There are also two VC winners are also listed, British officers who 'were killed at the moment of victory' as they 'organized and led the attack through the village of Sidd-el-Bahr during the landing operations in the Gallipoli Peninsula'. However, some of the rest of the news seems to be selected to make those at Gallipoli feel they have been let off lightly. Near Paris, 'the Germans delivered a very violent attack along the whole French front. This was accompanied by asphyxiating bombs and burning liquids'. One of the 'Items of Interest' includes the unhappy Royal Navy statistic that there are more men missing (2785) than wounded (2262) - to say nothing of the dead. On the other hand, the Russians 'took the offensive on the Dneister, South of Mynioff ... At dawn on Wednesday they stormed the position held by the enemy who fled in disorder. The Russians entered their works and bayonetted almost the entire garrison'. Charles Bean records that the newsletter 'was posted at the headquarters of many units, as well as on the Beach, the troops crowding to read it' ('Official History', Volume 1). Oliver Hogue, in 'Trooper Bluegum at the Dardanelles' (London, 1916) writes as one of those troops: 'That "Peninsula Press", little thing though it was, used to be read and re-read till we could almost repeat all its contents word for word. It gave us the war news on all fronts in a nutshell'. The survival rate of these pieces of paper under such circumstances cannot have been high, an observation borne out by their rarity in collecting institutions in Australia and New Zealand - and there appears to be no complete set. A copy of Number 85 (26 October 1915) in the Australian War Memorial has the following note written on it: 'HQ 6th Inf. Bde. Dear Dad, Keep this as a memento of the Dardanelles. This is our field newspaper. From your affectionate son, Bill'. On the verso is an additional note: 'These "Peninsula Press" are real hard to get hold of, but I managed to get it off the notice board today. I have already sent one of these to Bob. I should advise you to keep it. Yours, Bill' (research notes by Stuart Braga). Not in Dornbusch; not in Fielding and O'Neill.