The naked Anzac: Exposure and concealment in A.B. Facey's a fortunate life

Document Type

Journal Article


The English Association Sydney


School of Arts and Humanities




Originally published as: Murphy, F., & Nile, R. (2015). The naked Anzac: Exposure and concealment in AB Facey's a fortunate life. Southerly, 75(3), 219.

Original article available here


In January 1915, five months after the outbreak of the Great War, twenty-year-old would-be soldier Albert Facey stripped naked for exami - nation at the Blackboy Army Camp situated in the foothills of Perth, Western Australia. "I had to strip off all my clothes and lie down," Facey remembers in his best-selling autobiography, 'A Fortunate Life': "A doctor came and examined me from head to toe." The young man's exemplary body attracted the attention of the presiding medical officer. In the course of further assessment, several other attending personnel were called to observe: "I was informed that I was the only man out of the thousands measured, who was exactly six feet tall. So I had, in their opinion, a height all to myself" (299-300). Albert Facey's military and medical records confirm that he was, indeed, six feet tall, weighed 175 pounds, measured between 36" and 39 inches around the chest, and had blue eyes, brown hair and a "fresh complexion." The only imperfections were four small vaccination scars on his upper left arm (War Service).