Handwritten letter from Australian Staff Sergeant Gilbert (Gil) Payne Mulcahy to his family whilst he was travelling to Gallipoli. Gil enlisted into the Australian army on 15 February 1915, aged 21, and was placed into the 6th Australian Infantry Brigade. Gil served in Gallipoli from September to December 1915 and in Pozieres, France, in July and August 1916. Whilst abroad Gil was taken to the infirmary on numerous occasions due to suffering illnesses such as influenza. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on 18 October 1916. Gil returned to Australia on 9 March 1919.

Gil talks in his letter about the torpedo that hit the 'HMT Southland' whilst it was carrying him and his fellow troops to Gallipoli. The ship was hit at 9.50 am on 2 September 1915 by the German UB-14, 56km away from the island of Lemnos in the Mediterranean. There were 1400 men on the ship destined to seek their fate in Gallipoli. Forty of these troops lost their lives that day due to a lack of life boats. Gil's letter gives an account of how the attack affected the troops. Gil apologises to his family for lack of detail due to orders from authorities stating that they can't give away ship names or dates etc. Gil assures his family that he is of good health and wishes them well till next he writes.

Description of Content


Physical Description

Sheet of lined paper, handwritten in pencil on verso.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Military Memorabilia Collection, Returned and Services League (RSL) Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation & Subsequent Transfer from Victorian Branch, Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL), Mrs I. W. Morgan, 06/1987

  • Author

    Sergeant Major Gilbert P. Mulcahy, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, Sep 1915

  • Individuals Identified


  • Inscriptions

    Handwritten in ink top left hand corner: Copy Handwritten in ink bottom right hand corner: I.. Letter handwritten in pencil (full transcript as follows): At Sea Sunday Dear Mother Father Brothers + Sisters, Just a brief line as we are allowed the privilege of one page only and not to mention boats, dates, etc. I suppose you have heard of our terrible misfortune in the torpedo disaster. Well it was quite a new experience for me, + I can tell you now it is all now over and most of us are safe + sound, we will have quite a budget of news when we are able to. tell you all: but for the present the ... (?) forbids it. It could hardly be called a treat being in the water for about ¾hr. + afterwards having the precarious position on an upturned boat + having to get rid of my tunic, boots etc. (including Pay Book). However we were picked up alright minus a few articles of clothing + gear + treated like kings. No doubt you have been worrying about me but you can rest assured that yours truly is still fit and eager as ever and none the worse for the rather startling experience, I have to fix my men's tea now so I will give you tons of news at first opportunity + tell everything. Am in splendid health + making another move shortly. Trusting all at home are well + in the best of health. I have lost nearly all my little keepsakes but never mind all will be alright in the end. Your loving son + brother X Gil XXXX

  • Classification

    Military history, Personal effects, Correspondence

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    202 mm (Width), 255 mm (Height)

  • References

    [Link 1]

  • Keywords

    Australian Army, Correspondence, Military History, Service, World War I, 1914-1918