Harold Emanuel Collins (1892-1992)

A Travelling Exhibition Of Images From The Front Lines Of Gallipoli

May 22 - June 18 2017

As part of this travelling exhibition, Southeast Queensland audiences are fortunate to have the opportunity to view photographs taken directly from the battlefields of Gallipoli.

From May 22 to June 18 Anthea Polson Art will host a World War l photographic exhibition featuring the photographs taken by Australian Jewish soldier Harold Emanuel Collins.

While the images captured by many of today's young 20+ year old's focus on selfies, food, fashion or sports, Collins' images serve as a sobering reminder of life on the battlefield - a reality for many from his time.

His extraordinary wartime experiences included participation in the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915, where he served until evacuation in December. Collins served at the front-line during most of this period. 

In contrast to the official war photography of this period, Collins' grainy and unauthorised images paint a personal picture of warfare - capturing the soldier's curiosity of his foreign surroundings, the infrastructure of war and everyday life on the battlefield.
Images in the exhibition are supported by excerpts from Collins' detailed wartime diary.

"I saw a terrible sight today. A submarine sank HMS Triumph... I have seen dead men lying about by the hundred, have seen men's arms and legs torn off, but nothing has made me feel like crying as I did when I saw that stately and majestic battleship go down."
Harold Collins Diary - Tuesday 25th May 1915 
Brisbane resident Sharryn Goldman, Collins' great niece, recollects some of the family stories of his adventures, as well as his humane view of war.
"Uncle Harold was a founding member of the Returned Servicemen's Association of New South Wales and was very proud to have shaken hands with Edward VIII, as well as being honoured to have met Sir John Monash, General Birdwood, General Bridges and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith," Sharryn said.
"He also had a humanitarian approach to battles. He never belittled the enemy, but saw they were simply ‘doing their job'.  "His life on the front line was obviously a harsh one. One of his tasks was as stretcher bearer, taking the wounded from the war zone to the hospital ships off Gallipoli. For a bed he created a dugout with a base of leaves that he used as a mattress, using three overcoats to cover him and keep him warm."


About Harold Collins

At a young age, Collins was a veteran soldier. From Gallipoli he was transferred to Cairo and later to Port Said, where he worked as an ambulance corpsman at the military hospital.  He was promoted to the rank of Corporal.

In late 1916, Collins applied to join the Royal Flying Corps (predecessor of the Royal Australian Air Force). Having passed the entry examination, he joined the 68th Squadron at El Arish, on the Mediterranean coast of the Sinai Peninsula.

Collins was transferred to England for intensive training, before being transferred to France, where he remained on active service until the end of the War. He achieved the rank of Warrant Officer and after the Armistice on 11 November 1918, was seconded to the Accounts Department of the British Army. He returned to Australia on 30 October 1919.

He was awarded numerous decorations including: Meritorious Service Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Somme Medal, Albert Medal, Croix Combattant de L'Europe and Anzac Medal.

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