# 36664

[GALLIPOLI] An improvised On Active Service postcard handwritten on a souvenired Ottoman Turkish soap packet, sent home from Gallipoli by a New Zealand infantryman in June 1915.

$1,500.00 AUD

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Section of cardboard cut from a Turkish soap packet, approx. 90 x 140 mm (slightly irregular), the verso with handwritten message in violet pencil headed ‘Post Card / On Active Service / June 5th’, addressed to the sender’s aunt, Mrs S. S. Clarke in Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand, with ‘INFANTRY BRIGADE/FIELD/10JU15/POST OFFICE/NZ DIVISION’ circular date stamp and ‘Passed by Censor 2634’ cachet in rose; the writer informs his aunt that he is ‘quite well’, that he has received her letters and parcel, and that ‘We are still in the firing line and getting on well … have not found out about Robert (?)’; the message is signed ‘Arthur’; intriguingly, written in the same hand in the top left corner are the initials LHR (Light Horse Regiment) – what connection the sender, or the postcard itself, had with the Australian Light Horse is not clear; the card has been very well preserved and is in near fine condition.

A highly evocative and virtually unique piece of Anzac ephemera.

While the use of improvised postcards by Anzac soldiers on Gallipoli is well attested – the earliest recorded example is dated 29 May and the latest, 3 August 1915 – it is estimated that only 25 made and sent by New Zealanders have survived. Even more significant, however, is the fact that the present example is one of only two known instances of a postcard being created from Turkish packaging “captured” on Gallipoli. (Note: the other such example, previously in the esteemed postal history collections of Gordon Darge and Gary Diffen, was apparently made from the other half of the same soap packet).

The New Zealand Expeditionary Force initially comprised a single infantry brigade of around 4000 men. Each of New Zealand’s four military districts – Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago – contributed a battalion of 1000 men to the brigade, which served in the Gallipoli campaign between April and December 1915. On Gallipoli the New Zealand infantry were frequently deployed to attack Turkish trenches, usually over steep and exposed ground.

Although the sender of this card identifies himself simply as “Arthur”, we do at least know that he was the nephew of Mrs S. S. Clarke of Ponsonby, Auckland. This woman was almost certainly the widow of Stephen S. Clarke, who for years had run a business retailing perambulators on Karangahape Road, in the adjoining suburb of Newton. However, if Mrs Clarke was Arthur’s maternal aunt then obviously he would not share the same surname; furthermore, even though he went by the name Arthur it is possible that this was his middle name, not his first. Ironically, a Lance Corporal Arthur Clarke of the Otago Infantry Battalion was killed on 25 April 1915, the day of the first Gallipoli landings.