Gallipoli's troubled hearts: Fear, nerves and repatriation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Studies in Western Australian History




School of Arts and Humanities




Murphy, F., & Nile, R. (2017). Gallipoli's troubled hearts: Fear, nerves and repatriation. Studies in Western Australian History, (32), 25-37.


Twenty-one-year-old Private A.B. Facey returned to Australia from Gallipoli in November 1915. According to his bestselling memoir, published decades later, the young soldier had been severely wounded in an offensive against the Turks on 19 August. Transferred to the Australian base hospital in Egypt, Facey spent three weeks convalescing before being sent home to Perth for 'rest'. He never returned to the war and was discharged in June 1916. Facey's memoir claims that his wounds had healed before he arrived home, but that he 'felt there was something amiss deep down inside'. This feeling persisted for the remainder of his life. Military and medical records reveal that Albert Facey had not been seriously wounded in August 1915. Rather, he had suffered 'nerves' from the time of his brother Roy's death in an explosion on 28 June. A Fortunate Life depicts Roy's dismembered body and burial along with fifteen other dead: 'Roy was in pieces ... I can remember carrying a leg - it was terrible'. A Fortunate Life also depicts the 'hard, smelly and nauseating work' of retrieving decomposed corpses from no-man's land during a ceasefire called for that purpose on 24 May. Drawing on new historical and textual evidence, our paper seeks to re-read Facey's life-story in terms of war and emotions, specifically: abjection, fear, and humiliation

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