Apr 24 2010
Image shamelessly stolen from Ballina RSL Club
I did have a different blog post in mind today (I’ve had a couple of very eventful days), but this is more important. Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, a day where we recognise and honour the sacrifice made by our soldiers since World War I.
Australia was called to war a mere 13 years after Federation. We were a young country, seeking our identity. Much of that identity was forged through the war, in bloody battles and sacrifice throughout Europe and Asia. The battle that is most often linked with the Australian ANZAC legend is, of course, Gallipoli.
The Gallipoli campaign was the brainchild of the British and French command. The objective was to land on the Turkish coast, sweep around and capture Constantinople and cut off Turkish sea routes, effectively removing Turkey from the war. Instead, through a series of mess ups, outright screw ups, and hard headed thinking, ANZAC troops got caught in a disasterous campaign that resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and, eventually, withdrawal from the Gallipoli peninsula.
It all started when the ships carrying the soldiers landed in the wrong location. Instead of landing somewhere nice and flat and safe, they landed at the Gallipoli peninsula, characterised by a large cliff face right near the shore, and a small beach to land on. Many ANZAC troops were shot before they made it out of the water. The beach strip was under heavy fire from Turkish soldiers at the top of the cliff.
The Australian and New Zealand troops, along with many other Allied soldiers, were then engaged in a bloody series of trench battles, many of which they could never hope to win. Waves of men were sent over the top, charging face first towards an enemy to try and capture their trenches and gain valuable ground. More often than not, this was an utterly futile exercise. Despite this, the ANZACS remained brave and steadfast, earning them the respect of the enemy even in death.
On the 25th of April, the anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove and the beginnings of the Gallipoli campaign, Australians recognise the sacrifice made by our soldiers past and present.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
Lest we forget.