State Library of New South Wales

Letter from Ellis Ashmead Bartlett to Prime Minister Asquith, 8 September 1915

Acquired from Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, via publisher Angus & Robertson, 1916, A1583


Ifould assured Ashmead-Bartlett that ‘his documents, after purchase, would be regarded as confidential and locked away in the Mitchell Library safe during the continuance of the war and for a period of two years after the declaration of peace’.

It was rumoured that HW Nevinson, the correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, tipped off the military authorities, which led to the confiscation of the letter.

Keith Murdoch continued on to London, wrote his own letter and delivered this to the Australian prime minister, Andrew Fisher, reiterating many of the main points from Ashmead-Bartlett’s letter. The resulting political furore may have assisted in Hamilton’s recall as Commander-in-Chief and in the eventual evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Ashmead-Bartlett was ordered to leave Gallipoli on 2 October 1915.

In early 1916, Ashmead-Bartlett visited Australia and New Zealand as part of a speaking tour for the war effort, discussing his time at Gallipoli and encouraging further enlistment.

While Ashmead-Bartlett was in Sydney, the Angus & Robertson negotiated with him to buy these documents for the Mitchell Library. Librarian Ifould particularly wanted the ‘original typewritten press despatches before alteration by the censor, and the same as altered, Mr. Bartlett’s memorandum to the British Cabinet concerning the state of affairs at the Dardanelles’.