> > Donald Childs, "Stetson in The Waste Land," Essays in Criticism," April,
> > 1988.
> > Regards,
> > Rick Parker
And Pat wrote:
> What does he say in this regard, exactly? Or how does he answer the
> of where he got the information?
Pat: You asked what Childs said about Gallipoli. I've scanned in several
pages from the article as well as some of the footnotes. I hope this
information is of use.
-- Steve --
>From "Stetson in The Waste Land" by Donald J. Childs, Essays in Criticism,
April 1988, p 131-148. I've scanned in the footnotes that appear within the
quoted passages, and have included the footnotes at the end of this post.
-- beginning of quoted passages --
That Eliot should have associated the Australians with the fighting in the
Dardanelles is not surprising. The newspapers of 1915 were full of reports
about the incredible fortitude, ingenuity, and heroism of the Anzac troops.
The headlines in The Times from April 25th, 1915 (the day the invasion of the
Gallipoli peninsula began), to January of 1916 (when the Allies evacuated the
beaches) heaped praise upon the Australians. Typical headlines ran as
follows: `At grips with the Turks: heroic Australians', `Making history in
the Straits: the famous charge of the Australians: terror of the bayonet',
and `The Gallipoli landing: heroism at the six beaches' . 21
London's celebration on April 25th, 1916, of the first anniversary of the
invasion of Gallipoli reinforced the British tendency to associate the
Australian soldiers with Gallipoli. On this day, 2,000 Anzac troops (and only
Anzac troops) marched through the streets of London-across Waterloo Bridge,
along the Strand to Charing Cross, and then along Whitehall to Westminster
Abbey -encouraged by the cheers of great crowds lining the streets. The Times
reported the next day that `At quarter past ten a thousand of the Australian
troops came swinging over Waterloo Bridge in column of four'. The crowds were
greater than any `since the Coronation of King George'. Along the way, `there
were scenes of enthusiasm such as no previous day during the war had
witnessed . . . the songs of the soldiers were caught up and repeated'. Are
the marching soldiers and the crowds of spectators linked to the lines
preceding the introduction of Stetson: `A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so
many,/I had not thought death had undone so many' (CPP 62)? Are the singing
soldiers the source of the mysterious message from Sydney, Australia? And was
the Australian hat a part of the experience? The Manchester Guardian pointed
to the hats, implying that the Anzac headgear was itself worth celebrating:
`They [the Anzacs] have been idolised with a cheery whole-heartedness that
would have been striking [even] if Londoners had never seen an emu-feathered
hat or a New Zealand slouch before'. 22 In the system of signification I am
tracing, then, Stetson, Mrs. Porter, and all things Australian lead to
Why? Because reference to Gallipoli is Eliot's way of referring to Jean
Verdenal . . .
[Verdenal's military citation for heroism and self-sacrifice] probably refers
to the aftermath of the First Battle of Krithia on April 28th: a battle
fought by the combined Allied force. The French certainly played their part,
advancing half a mile (no mean feat in trench warfare) after a day of heavy
fighting. The British, Anzacs, and French spent the next two days
straightening the line and sorting out the confused battalions. The wounded
were tended on the night of April 28th, during which a storm blew in to make
the loading and unloading of ships very difficult, for the piers and jetties
were still under construction. It was probably this battle and this weather
that provided the context for Verdenal's heroism.
On May 1st, however, the Turkish forces began an assault upon the Allies
at 10 pm. The bombardment and assault were described by one observer as `hell
let loose upon earth'. 28 The French forces apparently broke under this
relentless attack, and were overrun by the Turks until Allied reinforcements
arrived to fill the breach in the trenches. The Allies mounted a
counter-attack at 10 am on May 2nd, but by evening the Turks and Allies were
back in their original trenches. In the end, the French `suffered over 2,000
casualties'. 29 In fact, French grave-diggers could not bury all those who
had fallen: `The French, finding the ground. too hard, or perhaps the task
too great, slung some bodies over the cliffs into the swift-flowing
Dardanelles'. 30 One of the casualties, I assume, and perhaps one of those
thrown into the Dardanelles, was Jean Verdenal, for another entry in the
latter's war record indicates that he was `Killed by the enemy on the 2nd May
1915 in the Dardanelles'.
Some such information as this would presumably have been available to
Eliot either through conversations with Gallipoli veterans or through
conversations with friends of Verdenal such as Schlemmer. In any event, we
know that Eliot had learned of Verdenal's death by January, 1916. 31 As early
as the spring of 1916, then (with the first celebration of Anzac Day
following soon after the news of Verdenal's death), we find the possibility
of a conjunction in Eliot's experience of Gallipoli, Australia, and Verdenal.
By 1921, I suggest, the connection in Eliot's mind between Jean Verdenal and
Gallipoli, on the one hand, and between Stetson and Mrs. Porter and
Gallipoli, on the other, was strong enough to make Verdenal the ultimate
referent of the Australian images in The Waste Land. But what brought the
Australians and the Dardanelles Campaign back to mind in 1921 as Eliot
actually began to compose the poem?
In general, the Dardanelles Campaign became infamous as an example of
World War I folly. The ill-conceived assault was a disaster. The objective-to
achieve control of the Dardanelles straits and so aid Russia by knocking the
Turks out of the war -was never close to being realized, and casualty figures
In the army's endeavour to reach the narrows over four hundred thousand
British troops were landed on the peninsula; over two hundred thousand of
these troops became casualties . . . The exertions of these troops were
assisted by a French army -chiefly consisting of African contingents-of
seventy-nine thousand men, more than half of whom became casualties. In the
attempt to achieve this five-mile advance the Allies flung nearly half a
million men on the Peninsula, and sustained over a quarter of a million
casualties. At the end of eight months they were not in occupation of a
single position of the least tactical importance; and the survivors were
hazardously withdrawn. 32
The waste of life at Gallipoli, therefore, was a part of everyone's memory of
the war - and so a poem pretending to be rooted in the collapse of European
civilization might well look back to Gallipoli for one of its `broken images'.
For Eliot, of course, Gallipoli was the action in which his friend had
died -and so there was always an intimate personal dimension to his awareness
of the futility of war. Perhaps the fact that Anzac Day was April 25th was
one of the reasons why `April is the cruellest month'. If, as seems likely,
Eliot did not know the exact date of Verdenal's death, he might well have
associated it with the beginning of the invasion of Gallipoli. Anzac Day,
1921, may have been enough of a spur to his memory and desire to launch into
The Waste Land the Australian images that lead to Gallipoli and Verdenal.
Valerie Eliot, however, has revealed that Eliot was thinking about the long
poem that would become The Waste Land as early as 1919. And in the spring of
1919, there was an Anzac Day celebration that Eliot may well have witnessed.
The celebration of 1919 was special, for it was London's last chance to
salute the Anzac troops before they returned to New Zealand and Australia.
The parade was even bigger than the one in 1916. Once more, of course, the
Anzac headgear caught everyone's eye. After noting that the soldiers' fixed
bayonettes added a picturesque touch to the parade, The Times added that `So
undoubtedly did their slouch hats':
It is an extraordinarily romantic headdress. If it lacks a little, perhaps,
of formal military smartness it has dashing, almost buccaneering, air which
is all its own. To those who live in cities there is something of the call of
the wild about it; it suggests great empty spaces, a free life under open
skies and in young countries. And the men under the big hats looked
gorgeously hard and fit.
Eliot was in London in 1919, beginning his third year of employment in the
Colonial and Foreign Department of Lloyd's Bank, working in the office at 17
Cornhill. On Friday, April 25th, 5,000 Anzac troops paraded through London to
celebrate for the last time the Anzac contribution to the war effort. They
paraded past Australia House and then up Queen Victoria Street, marching past
the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House before proceeding around the intersection
of Queen Victoria Street, King William Street, Lombard Street, Cornhill, and
Threadneedle Street and marching away up Princes Street. Eliot was working in
this very area, not far from the Mansion House and the Royal Exchange-focal
points for the parade's climax. The Times reported events as follows:
The City of London clearly did not intend that business should come before
pleasure yesterday - the pleasure of welcoming the Australians. The troops
were due at the Mansion House at 11.30, and long before that the pavements
were almost solid with people, only a tiny little streamlet of those still
bent on business being able to pass slowly along. Every window was full, and
there was not an inch of space left on the roof of the Royal Exchange.
At about 11 there was a sound of whirring and humming, and two big aeroplanes
came from over St. Paul's and turned slowly and impressively over the Mansion
House. A few minutes later came four more flying low over the Royal Exchange,
and from that time onward the air was alive with planes. The crowd stood
gazing upwards, with necks permanently craned, at various exciting feats of
Given the parade route, and given the disruption to the business in the
area caused by it, there is every chance that Eliot knew of it or watched it
himself - recalling Gallipoli and Verdenal, and associating them thereafter
with the famous Australian slouch hat.
-- end of quoted passages --
Footnotes 17 - 36
17 C. M. Bowra, The Creative Experiment (1949), p. 182.
18 Accounts of the Australians in Egypt stress the problems-4
with prostitutes. See Bean, p. 128, and Gammage, p. 37. -
19 Bowra, p. 182.
20 John Brophy and Eric Partridge, The Long Trail: What the .
British Soldier Sang and Said in The Great War of 1914-18,
rev. ed. (1931; repr. New York, 1965), p. 40.
21 The Times [London], 19 May 1915, p. 7; 22 May 1915, p. 7; 27 May 1915, p.
22 The Times [London], 26 April 1916, p. 2; Manchester Guardian, 26 April
1916, p. 4.
23 T. S. Eliot, `A Commentary', Criterion, xiii (April 1934), p, 452.
24 James E. Miller, Jr., T. S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land Exorcism of the
Demons (University Park, Pennsylvania, and London, 1977), p. 77.
25 T. S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society (1939), p. 103.
26 See George Watson, `Quest for a Frenchman', Sewanee Review, lxxiv (1976),
27 Concerning Verdenal's war record, see Watson, p. 467.
28 Sir Ian Hamilton, Gallipoli Diary (1920), vol. i, p. 187.
29 Robert R. James, Gallipoli (1965), pp. 146-47.
30 Eric W. Bush, Gallipoli (1975), p. 160.
31 T. S. Eliot, letter to Conrad Aiken (10 January 1916), cited in The Waste
Land: A Facsimile and Transcript, ed. Valerie Eliot (1971), p. x.
32 John North, Gallipoli: The Fading Vision (1936), p. 43.
33 The Times [London], 26 April 1919, p. 7.
34 See John Peter, `A New Interpretation of The Waste Land', E in C, xix
(1969), pp. 140-75.
35 The Times [London], 25 Feb. 1921, p. 9.
36 Kristian Smidt, The Importance of Recognition: Six Chapters on T. S. Eliot
(Troms0 1973), p. 21.