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Home > View & Discuss > Writing the war: Sir Keith Murdoch

Writing the war: Sir Keith Murdoch

  • Date recorded: 30 Jun 2014

  • Duration: 03:58

'I write of the unfortunate Dardanelles expedition in the light of what knowledge I could gain on the spot...It is undoubtedly one of the most terrible chapters in our history. Your fears have been justified.'

– Keith Murdoch

About this video

Watch our series of short films accompanying our Writing the war: personal stories from WWI exhibition, highlighting the individual experiences of Australians who participated in the war. The films also feature in our permanent exhibition, The changing face of Victoria, as part of the State Library's World War I centenary commemoration. The Writing the war touring exhibition will travel to Victorian public libraries from August 2015 to June 2017.

At the age of 33, Melbourne journalist Keith Murdoch spent four days on the Gallipoli peninsula. He met with Australia’s official war correspondent Charles Bean and British journalist Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, and shared their shock at the conditions endured by the soldiers. After failing to smuggle a letter written by Ashmead-Bartlett to Britain's prime minister past the censors, Murdoch sent his own 8000-word letter on the Gallipoli campaign to Australia’s Prime Minister Andrew Fisher.

This film includes extracts from Keith Murdoch's Gallipoli letter, a national treasure. Highly critical of the Dardanelles campaign but filled with emotional descriptions of the Anzac troops, the letter is said to have influenced the withdrawal of allied troops from the peninsula. The letter was inscribed into the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2015.

About Sir Keith Murdoch

Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch (12 August 1885 – 4 October 1952) began his career as a journalist working for the Age, Herald and Sydney evening Sun. He was appointed a trustee of the Library and National Gallery in 1933, in which year he was also knighted, and became chairman of the Herald group in 1942. His son, Rupert Murdoch, is the Executive Chairman of News Corp, formerly Sir Keith's company News Limited.

Watch the other videos in this series