Of the 62,000 Anzac soldiers who died in the Great War, over one-third are still listed as ‘missing.’
After the war ended, families still sought answers about their dead and missing loved ones. Consequently a slow trickle of Australian pilgrims to Gallipoli started in 1920.
In 1922, a party of about 80 pilgrims travelled by steam yacht from Marseille to Gallipoli. Fellow pilgrims noted that Mrs Jessica Tosh and her daughter never left the yacht to sightsee at the historical ports. Jessica and her daughter had travelled from a little village in Scotland to visit the grave of her son, William.
William ‘Scottie’ Tosh had migrated to Australia to farm sheep, but joined the 8th Light Horse Regiment when the war broke out. He landed on Gallipoli in May 1915. Before his regiment charged at the Nek on 7 August 1915, Scottie wagered five pounds with a mate that he would reach the Turkish trenches, either dead or alive. Scottie never collected the wager. His body was ‘shattered by machine-gun fire’. A doctor at an aid station hesitated in administering Scottie morphine because he felt nothing more could be done for him. ‘No, I’m not done,’ pleaded Scottie. He died soon after.
Jessica and her daughter’s pilgrimage culminated at Ari Burnu Cemetery that overlooks the still waters of Anzac Cove. They no doubt experienced a feeling of spiritual connection and comfort as they mourned at William’s grave. It would be an emotion that tens of thousands of pilgrims would experience in the coming years