Johnnies and Mehmets: a Gallipoli Honour Roll is an online memorial commemorating the service and sacrifice of fourteen soldiers, Anzacs and Turks, who fought in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

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The project was inspired by WW1 memorial windows in St Mark’s Anglican Church, in the western Sydney suburb of Granville. The four stained glass panels, made by Alfred C. Handel Studios, Sydney and unveiled in February 1928, record the names of St Mark’s parishioners who served.

This website was created through a curatorial led research project which took focus and story from both the Sydney based Turkish descendents of soldiers who fought in the Dardenelles and the Anglo Celtic descendants of Granville soldiers who fought against them.

Prior to colonization the Granville area, forested and at the junction of two rivers, was a significant meeting place for the Cadigal, Wategora, Burramattagal and Bidjigal peoples. It remained relatively untouched by colonialists until the 1850s when it became the last stop on NSW’s first railway, the Sydney to Parramatta Line. Large-scale industry arrived. The promise of factory employment attracted families from across the country and by the time WW1 began, Granville was referred to as an Australian ‘Birmingham’. It was from these working families that many young WW1 soldiers came.

The project was informed by significant research into the Granville soldiers already undertaken by Colin Humphreys and Granville Historical Society as well as a commemorative service for descendants organized by Dennis Overton at St Marks in May 2015.

The WW1 centenary prompted many, many Australians to research their WW1 soldier relatives in official archives and personal papers; for Turkish people research is not such an easy task – official archives are difficult to access and are written in Ottoman Turkish using Arabic script, rather than the modern Turkish in Latin script that has been in use since early 1930s. Individual soldiers’ records to a large extent, do not exist. Much of the information about the Turkish soldiers has come from combined family remembrances – precious details recalled in conversations with mothers, cousins, aunts and uncles in both Australia and Turkey.

A Johnnies and Mehmets morning tea, attended by Anglo-Celtic and Turkish Australian project participants, highlighted the projects’ contribution to a growing inter-community dialogue – a shared experience of imperialism, nationalism, trauma and loss, recollection and reconciliation.

The Johnnies and Mehmets honour roll will call out the names of these fourteen men for as long as the internet lasts, while their descendants’ pride, respect and hopes for a peaceful future, resonate on in the symbolic motifs.

Victoria Harbutt
Curator/ Creative Director

References:
  • http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/15283037
  • http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/granville
  • Granville; Forest to Factory, Granville Historical Society, NSW, 1992
  • Humphreys. C. 2015, Granville Roll of Honour: soldiers from Granville who died in World War 1, unpublished manuscript, Granville Historical Society, NSW
  • Completing the story of the Gallipoli Campaign: Researching Turkish Archives for a More Comprehensive History, Harvey Broadbent, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, Sydney.