ANZAC is an acroymn for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
Saturday 25th April 2015 will mark 100 years since Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli. This was Australia’s first major military involvement during the First World War. As the sun rises around the world on Saturday, dawn services will be held to pay respect, remember and honour those brave men and women from the Australian and New Zealand armed forces who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations since that ill-fated campaign.
Australia had only been a nation since 1901. In 1914 when Britain declared war against Germany for its invasion of Belgium, Australia, as a British Colony, regarded itself inevitably also at war.
At dawn on 25 April 1915 approximately 75 000 soldiers from twelve countries landed under fire at Gallipoli in Turkey, looking to push through to Istanbul and capturing Turkey (an ally of Germany) opening up a route to provide supplies and support to Russia in its fight against Germany. The invading troops failed to reach their objective and for the next eight months they clung to the land they had secured, before finally withdrawing. At the end of the campaign 43,000 soldiers had died, including 8,141 Australians and 2,431 New Zealanders. The Turkish soldiers, successfully defending their country against this invasion, lost an estimated 86,500.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the actions of Australian and New Zealand troops during this campaign left us a prevailing legacy. The “ANZAC legend” was born and became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both our past and our future.
Legends rose, we were told tales of Simpson and his donkey; rescuing dozens of wounded soldiers and bringing them to safety to be treated, the Australian Light Horsemen; charged on orders, despite it being clear that all would be mown down as soon as they emerged from their trenches.
That’s the Anzac spirit; courage, compassion, tenacity, mateship, and sacrifice.
So this weekend, Will you be attending a dawn service? Who will you be remembering? What will you reflect on? What does ANZAC Day mean to you?
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning:
We will remember them.”
– fourth verse of Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen: Lest We Forget