To Hell and Back: Gallipoli - An eye-witness account

GALLIPOLI — An eye-witness account
The remarkable life of Sydney Loch

BY JAKE AND SUSANNA DE VRIES

To Hell and Back - An eye-witness account - GallipoliSydney Loch migrated to Victoria from Scotland and became a sheep farmer in Gippsland before enlisting with the 2nd Battalion and training with the Anzacs in Egypt.


Convalescing in a Melbourne military hospital from a wound sustained at Gallipoli and from an attack of typhoid that put him on the danger list, Sydney Loch published one of the first books to tell the truth about Gallipoli. The Straits Impregnable was published in Melbourne in 1916 and its horrific accounts of the reality of battle made it a best seller. However censorship was fierce and it had the names of the principal characters changed and published as a novel as novels did not have to pass the censor. Sydney’s graphic vivid book was banned by order of the Military Censor for Victoria. To his dismay he and his publisher narrowly avoided being prosecuted for breaking the rigid censorship laws. Sydney was in fact a whistle blower.


Shortly after the end of the war Sydney married Melbourne journalist, Joice NanKivell Loch and went to work in London dealing with victims of loss of memory from the trenches. Later he would become a humanitarian aid worker in Poland and in Greece.

In World War Two Sydney and his wife returned to help the Poles and ran an aid centre for Polish refugees in Bucharest. He saved the lives of hundreds of Poles by taking them by sea to Istanbul and on to Cyprus and to Haifa where he and his wife ran refugee camps for the duration of the war. Later he returned to carry out more aid work in Greece, was awarded medals by the Poles and the Greeks but, his life shortened by his war service on Gallipoli he died in Greece in 1952, adored by a Greek village he and his wife had saved from starvation and by a god-daughter he had educated and who bore his name.

On the TV programme, Foreign Correspondent, his god daughter and namesake claimed, ‘None of us would be here today if it were not for the Lochs.’ In 2006 a Memorial Museum to the truly heroic humanist Sydney Loch and his wife, Joice was opened in the Byzantine tower in their former home in the Greek village of Ouranoupolis, a former refugee camp which the Lochs saved from starvation. This is a Gallipoli story with a difference that reveals an Aussie Gallipoli veteran changed into a humanitarian by the horrors of war. TO HELL AND BACK will be published in APRIL 2007 by HarperCollins, Sydney and a percentage of royalties is being donated to refugee programmes run by Austcare. Copies can be ordered from all leading bookshops.
 
HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN9780732285456 and 0732285453