Ashley Ekins

Ashley Ekins was the Head of the Military History Section at the Australian War Memorial where he worked as a military historian for more than 30 years. A graduate of the University of Adelaide, he specialises in the military history of the First World War and has published widely on the role of Australian soldiers in the Great War. His books on the First World War include: 1918 Year of Victory: The end of the Great War and the shaping of history (published in 2010 and shortlisted for the Templer Medal); War Wounds: Medicine and the trauma of conflict (2011); and The Anzac Book, C.E.W. Bean’s classic anthology of soldiers’ writings and art created on Gallipoli in 1915, published by the Memorial as a special third edition in 2010.

Ashley has made a thorough study of the Gallipoli campaign and he has led the annual Australian War Memorial battlefield tours to Gallipoli since 1996. He has explored the battlefields extensively with Turkish, Australian and British experts and historians on over twenty visits, and he also wrote the popular pocket Guide to the Battlefields, Cemeteries and Memorials of the Gallipoli Peninsula (fifth edition published by the Memorial in 2012). He twice accompanied a government-appointed review team to Gallipoli as historical adviser and consultant in 2005. His most recent book is Gallipoli: A ridge too far (published in April 2013), a comprehensive multi-national study of the pivotal battles of the campaign which includes contributions by distinguished historians from all the main participating nations, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Turkey, Germany, France and India.

Ashley is also an authority on Australian military involvement in the Vietnam War. As an author of the Australian official histories, he has written extensively on Australian Army ground operations in Vietnam. He co-authored, with his colleague, the late Dr Ian McNeill, volume eight in the official history series, On the Offensive (published 2003); and he wrote the ninth and final volume in the series, Fighting to the Finish (released in February 2012).


Ian McNeill and Ashlcy Ekins, On the Offensive The Australian Army in the Vietnam War, January 1967-June 1968 (Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, Sydney, 2003). This is volume eight of The Official History of Australia’s Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948-1975.

Ashley Ekins and lan McNeill, Fighting to the Finish: The Australian Army in the Vietnam War 1968-1972 (Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2009), the ninth and final volume of lle Official History of Australian Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948-1975.

A Guide to the Battlefields, Cemeteries and Memorials of the Gallipoli Peninsula, Australian War Memorial. Canberra, 1998 (revised edition, 2000, third revised edition 2002, fourth revised edition 2008)

Public Talks and Academic Conference Papers Delivered

Interview on the history and significance of the Gallipoli campaign, ABC television live broadcast, lnterpretive Program, Anzac Day Dawn Service – Anzac Commemorative Site, Gallipoli, 25 April 2008

Presentation. “‘l order you to die’: Ataturk as military commander on Gallipoli, 1915”, delivered at conference on the occasion of the 125th birthday of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkish Embassy. Canberra, 8 December 2006

Commemorative closing address, “The meaning of Remembrance Day”, Australian War Mernorial commemorative area, 11 Novembcr 2006

Talk on the history of the Gallipoli campaign and guided gallery tour delivered to visiting ‘Kookaburras’ men’s national hockey team. Australian War Memorial galleries, 11 August 2006

“A ridge too far: military objectives and the dominance of terrain in the Gallipoli campaign”, paper delivered at international conference The Gallipoli Campaign: International Perspectives, 2000, convened by Onsekiz Mart University, Canakkale, Turkey, 24 April 2000

“Master of the battlefield: thc dominance of terrain in the Gallipoli campaign. 1915”, paper delivered at international conference Terrain in Military History, convened by the University of Greenwich, London. 6 January 2000

“‘A new basis for discipline’? Military crime and punishment among Australian soldiers on the Somme, 1916”, paper presented at the Colloque International (lnternational History Conference) convened by the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Peronne. France, 1-4 July 1996, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the battle of the Somme

Contributions to Television Documentary Films

Historical advice and recorded extended interview on the Gallipoli campaign and the experience of visiting Gallipoli for documentary feature, Gallipoli: Brothers in Arms, by Andrew Denton, broadcast on Enough Rope, ABC television, 26 April2007

Historical adviser, contributed to script development and recorded extensive interview for feature length documentary film, Gallipoli: the frontline experience, by Director Tolga Ornek, premiered at Australian War Memorial, April 2005

Historical adviser and recorded extensive interview for documentary feature film, “1918 Remembered: Brothers in Arms”, by Chris Masters, Four Corners, ABC Television, 9-10 November 1998

Historical adviser and recorded extensive interview on discipline and punishment among Australian soldiers in the First World War and executions by firing squad, for documentary feature story, “ANZAC tragedies revealed after 80 years”, by Ross Coulthart, Sunday, Nine Network, 8 November 1998; updated programme, “ANZAC pardons”, broadcast as cover story on Sunday, Nine Network, 13 November 2005