Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty

Putting Real People in a Gallipoli Novel

Putting Real People in a Gallipoli Novel

The main characters in Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty are entirely fictitious: Sara, Bessie, Lily, Ed, Mary, Verity, Mrs Ramsay, Idris, Roger, Major Hughes, Julian etc.

I have retained the names of real people Muriel Wakeford mentioned in her diary whenever I referred to them in the way that Muriel wrote them. For example, Muriel wrote:

“Good Friday 2 April

… I with Col. Braund and Major Pain climbed the big pyramid. It was well worth the trouble of getting to the top.”

Sadly a month later, she also wrote:

“Mon 3 May

Called up at 4am to receive the wounded.

They were in a worse condition than on the previous Sunday and the wounds much more severe. Heard that Col Braund was shot dead.”


I have retained Col Braund’s real name in my novel because I haven’t embellished him in any way. Muriel’s diary entries highlight how dangerous Gallipoli was for soldiers and officers.

I have also referred to real people when they were public figures and are well documented. A number of the major players visited the Gascon while Muriel was on board.


“Thu 6 May

Same routine. Col Syme has a septic hand and is going to leave us tomorrow.”


Sat 15 May

Same precautions against submarine attacks as last night. General Bridges was wounded and brought on board today. It is not expected he will recover from his wounds.”


Tues 18 May

General Bridges died at 6am. The work is terrific.”


Wed 7 July

Heavy artillery working at Cape Hellas. Afternoon – monitor shelling Turkish positions. Generals Godley and Birdwood visit us. 7pm trawler “Loch Esk”, coming off to us, towing boat load of wounded, is fired at, 4 shells falling very close to her, likewise to us.”


In a letter to her parents, she wrote (Wed 19 May)

Sir Ian Hamilton visited us a few days ago. Shook hands and was very nice.”

George Adlington Syme (1859-1929) was a leading surgeon, working in Britain and Australia.

Brigadier-General Sir William Throsby Bridges (1861-1915) was Commander of the Australian Imperial Force. He was mortally wounded by a sniper.

Major-General Sir Alexander Godley (1867-1957) was Commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

General Sir William Birdwood (1865-1951) was Commander of the Australian and New Zealand Corps. He was injured when a bullet skimmed his head.

General Sir Ian Hamilton (1853-1947) commanded the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force until he was replaced in October 1915.

If you would like to know more about the roles these men played in the Gallipoli Campaign, I recommend:

Laffin, John Damm the Dardanelles! The Agony of Gallipoli (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1989)

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

Comments (2)

  1. Glennys 27th June 2015 at 12:58 pm

    The write-up in CILIP Update June 2015 drew me to your blog. I turn family trees into narratives for residents of a local retirement village and constantly seek out ideas. Congratulations on publishing your second novel.

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