Australia ANZAC Day
ANZAC is an acronym and stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This special group consisted of an army corps that was set up in World War 1 and officially formed in Egypt in 1915. It was disbanded in 1916 after the evacuation of Gallipoli. This special army corps were put together to fight the Turks.
One hundred years
As we celebrate the centenary of World War II it seems an ideal time to remember those that lost their lives during this hard fought war.
Plea for assistance
The British had mounted a naval expedition against Turkey after the Russians asked for help. However, the battle was abandoned after serious losses which included 3 battleships.
Australia and New Zealand enter the war
The Australians and New Zealand corps were brought in while Britain made attempts to land, although little progress was made. For 9 months the British, Australian and New Zealand troops fought against the Turks in appalling conditions. Gallipoli was lost. Sadly, over 100,000 men died which included 44,000 British and French, and nearly 9,000 Australians, and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders.
A part of something bigger
Although Gallipoli played a small part in the First World War, and the figures of those that died were far less than the war as a whole, it was still a considerable loss.
The soldiers of both New Zealand and Australia had formed a great bond as they fought alongside each other. But the Gallipoli battle was a disaster, they were evacuated soon after, with no victories, and only a heavy loss of life to show for this hard fought battle. A third of the New Zealand’s troops died, and the small communities back home were devastated. It all seemed such a waste of life as nothing had been gained and there had been no significant influence over the wars outcome.
Letters that have survived the war tell of the conditions and the bravery of the soldiers:
“For an hour or more I struggled on slipping every now and again right down the side where the earth was very loose, making my already wet and heavy clothes still heavier with the mud that hung to them. I found it very slow work my pack and rifle and shovel etc. catching every few minutes in the thick scrub, I had at times hard work to extricate myself I seemed to have handles sticking all over me, but what we accomplished that day we ourselves marvel at now. In spite of the dirty and in some cases ragged uniform covering tired bodies the men were cheerful and laughed at their plight, some jokingly saying “Oh, if only my girl could see me now”.
Private Roy Denning, written from hospital in Malta after being wounded, 1915
“who, with dying and wounded around him, and machine gun bullets tearing up the ground where he stood, steadied and waved forward the remnant of his platoon until he himself fell pierced with several bullets…”
Second Lieutenant Wilfred Emmott Addison foretold his own death before leaving for Gallipoli. The piece above is an excerpt from Charles Bean, Australia’s official historian on Addison’s self-fulfilling prophecy.
Celebrating ANZAC Day on April 25th doesn’t set out to celebrate a great triumph, but it does celebrate the bravery of not only those that survived, but those that gave their lives so valiantly. The bravery, tenacity and ingenuity shown during the Gallipoli campaign is certainly something worth remembering. Close ties between the two countries were formed as a result of this terrible battle that has lasted to the present day.
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