Lesson 2: The soldiers of Gallipoli


To many young men, the prospect of volunteering to go to war in 1914 was viewed with excitement. Many thought of it as a chance to travel and see the world. Unfortunately, what they first saw as an adventure, turned into an experience of unimaginable hardship.

The poor conditions that soldiers faced on a day-to-day basis are well documented. Not only did the soldiers have to contend with fighting, they also had to deal with disease, lack of clean water, extreme temperatures, unsanitary living conditions and many other problems.

In this lesson, students will read written accounts of actual experiences in the form of soldiers’ letters to loved ones. They will research to discover further details of the conditions and day-to-day lives of the Gallipoli soldiers.

Links to Australian Curriculum


  • Use historical terms and concepts.
  • Identify questions to inform a historical inquiry.
  • Identify and locate a range of relevant sources.


  • I dentify aspects of written texts that evoke emotion, provide details and information about particular historical events.

Learning outcomes

Participating in this lesson will help students to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Students will be able to discuss some of the issues that soldiers in the Gallipoli campaign faced on a day-to-day basis.
  • Students will share their feelings and attitudes about the hardships experienced by the soldiers in the Gallipoli campaign.


You will need:

  • computers with internet access
  • ‘Gallipoli letter quotes’ (IWB format)
  • ‘Researching the soldiers of Gallipoli’ activity sheet.

Lesson steps

Please note: Some of the content in this lesson may be upsetting for students. It is advised that teachers use their discretion when selecting the proposed activities for use in their classroom.

As a class, discuss Gallipoli and what students know or feel about it.

Ask students if they know if any of their ancestors served in World War I. If appropriate, ask them to share their experiences.

Now explain to students that the focus of this lesson is to learn a little about what the soldiers in Gallipoli experienced on a day-to-day basis. Explain to students that there may be some themes in this lesson that make them feel uncomfortable and they should share their feelings/attitudes at any time.

With a partner, have students talk about what they think the soldiers may have experienced in Gallipoli. Students may find it helpful to use their senses as a guide: ‘What did they see, hear, taste, smell or feel?’ Ask the pairs to share their ideas and record responses.

On an IWB display the ‘Gallipoli letter quotes’. Ask students to read through the quotes and think about how each one makes them feel (this can be done independently, or as a whole class task). Discuss whether these quotes support what students already imagined the conditions to be like.

In pairs, or independently, students use the internet and websites provided (on the activity sheet), to conduct research and complete the ‘Researching the soldiers of Gallipoli’ activity sheet.

Once students have completed the activity sheet, discuss their findings as a class. Discuss:

  • Soldiers’ diets were extremely restrictive. What were some of the common foods they ate and why?
  • In your opinion, what would have been the biggest challenge for soldiers?
  • What values do you think the soldiers needed to get them through each day?

Additional cross-curricular activities

Here are some suggested extra activities to extend the students’ learning.


  • Students to pretend they are a soldier in Gallipoli and write a diary entry or letter explaining their experiences.


  • Students to use the internet or books to find out more about the living conditions of soldiers serving in World War I.

Health and Physical Education

  • Students to record the main food items eaten by soldiers during World War I. Are there modern-day equivalents? If so, what are they? Do you think you could eat those same foods every day for weeks or months? Explain.

The Arts

  • Many songs were written during, and about, World War I. Students to find some examples and discuss how they portray the soldiers’ experiences.