Field of Bones

An Irish Division at Gallipoli

By: Phillip Orr

Publication Date: November 2006

(3 customer reviews)


Field of Bones: An Irish Division at Gallipoli by Phillip Orr

During August and September 1915 almost three thousand young volunteer Irish soldiers died on the killing fields of Gallipoli on the Turkish Aegean. A division of Kitchener’s Army, at Suvla Bay they fell to gunshot-wounds and shellfire, while thirst, sunstroke and dysentery reduced their chances of survival. Hundreds were burned alive in raging bush-fires.

In post-war Ireland political revolution led to the removal of Gallipoli from memory. One popular ballad told the volunteers, ‘you fought for the wrong country; you died for the wrong cause, when the greatest war was at home’. Here, in heart-breaking detail, built from letters, diaries and archival sources, is the story of the 10th Irish Division, many of whom still lie today in Suvla Bay’s deserted field of bones.

‘Masterly and moving… Philip Orr enhances his already high reputation as a military historian for not only illuminating and meticulous command of detail but for a sense of balance and a fair-mindedness too rare in work on the long-neglected history of Irish soldiers in the First World War. Field of Bones is an absorbing study to be pondered by all students of the folly, the foibles, and the fortitude of man.– Professor Joe Lee

‘In this marvellously resonant book, Philip Orr has recovered the history of one of Ireland’s great forgotten battles… Gallipoli was as important a First World War battle for Ireland as the Somme was for Ulster.’ – Professor Keith Jeffery

‘Superb and horrifying story of the poor souls who set off in hope and patriotism (of various kinds) to fight in World War I and were slaughtered in the killing fields of Gallipoli. Read it and weep.’ Customer review


PHILIP ORR, a former teacher and military historian, is author of the best-selling The Road to the Somme: Men of the Ulster Division Tell Their Story (Belfast 1987). He lives in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

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3 reviews for Field of Bones

  1. Lilliput Press

    “The book sheds some light on the fate of the 10th (Irish) Division which was formed in August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s K1 army and then sent to the Dardanelles after initial training in Ireland and England. The division was split up for the Gallipoli campaign with some of the division fighting at Sulva Bay and the remainder at Anzac Cove. The fate of these Irishmen has largely been ignored by history, a point that the author draws out and the reasons for this. The 10th (Irish) Division was composed of Irishmen from both traditions and it did not have the political overtones of the 16th (Irish) Division or the 36th (Ulster) Division. The 10th suffered heavy casualties at Gallipoli and mention is made by the author of the 10th’s later campaign in Salonika and the fate of some of the Gallipoli survivors. The author refers to personal accounts published at the time and unpublished diaries of some of the participants held by the Army Museum and Imperial War Museum. A useful insight into the largely forgotten sacrifice of numbers of Irishmen who fought on the side of the allies in WW1.” XAVIER

  2. Lilliput Press

    “Excellent angle on the Gallipoli campaign. Well written (as with a nothing on the Great War by Philip Orr). Good companion to Bryan Coopers book on the Tenth Division at Gallipoli.

    Good read, highly recommended.” SPACER

  3. Lilliput Press

    “An outstanding piece of research and movingly and engagingly written by Philip Orr. This book contributed significantly to the ending of the amnesia on the participation of Irishmen in the Great War.” JONATHAN BARDON

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Publication Date

November 2006


Paperback, 268pp