On December 8th, 1915 there were 38,500 Australian troops occupying trenches on Gallipoli, facing a larger Turkish force of some 80,000.
Twelve days later they had all been evacuated from the Peninsula without any loss and without the enemy knowing. In hindsight their cunning escape had become the only success of the whole Gallipoli campaign.
How they did this was helped in no small way by an ingenious invention created by twenty year old Lance-Corporal Bill Scurry, a self-firing rifle with a primitive timer that would convince the Turkish soldiers that the Anzacs were still in their trenches shooting at them when in fact they had long gone.
It would earn for him the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the gratitude of those who had got off Gallipoli safely.
After the war Bill Scurry and his family took advantage of the Soldier Settlement Scheme and purchased a farm in Silvan where he grew berries and passion fruit until the second world war.
Author and Historian Anthony McAleer, Treasurer of the Mt Evelyn RSL, has put together a book about the life and letters of Bill Scurry, how he inherited adventure and creativity from his family, his life after returning to Australia, and how he coped with injuries acquired during the war.
‘SCURRY – the Man Who Got Them Safely off Gallipoli’ will be launched at 2pm on February 19th at Silvan Public Hall.