Quote: Originally Posted by Curiosity
Hi - if you have some time - perhaps you could add a bit about ANZAC Day for the people here....
I had an Aussie friend whose dad died while he was visiting Canada and in his grief he phoned my parents and spent most of that first day waiting for his flight back home - explaining why he was so upset - that his dad had died on ANZAC Day..... My family were fascinated by the story as it wasn't discussed as often in Canada. It's quite a history.
All this assuming Kiwi is a real moniker...if not...sorry.
Happy to oblige.
ANZAC day is the national holiday in both Australia and New Zealand. It's on the 25th of April every year, commemorating the day the Entente powers landed in an ulitimately aborted attempt to force a way through the New Central power of Ottoman Turkey to create supply and support lines for Russia.
It was the brainchild of a certain overweight former journalist who would later become Lord of the Admirality and Britain's wartime Prime minister during the second world war, where he would also think p an idea of destroying the third Reich through the soft underbelly of mountainous Italy. This pompous verbose creampuff who never had to walk up a hill in his life liked to maintain a delusion that he was the reincarnation of the Duke of Malborough, of whom he was a distant decendant. And on the map in Whitehall it must have looked so easy.
Now after the race to the sea
and the subsequent stalemate in France he man had disposed of the freshly formed formations for his schemes, which included the freshly mobilised first echelon of the brand new Commonwealth of Australia, formed under the guidelines of Kitchener to become the vanguard of an eventual entire Corps of Australian and New Zealand soldiers. So instead of sailing to France they were retained in Egypt for the forthcoming operation.
From the outset the reality of the operation proved far from the intended plans. The Turkish military had revitalised itself to an army far removed from that which was humiliated 1912-3 by Bulgaria and Greece, and was greatly assisted in strategy by some of the finest minds on the Prussian general staff such as General Liman (von Sanders). The topological reality of the Dardenelles that link the Aegean sea to the Black sea is of a steep mountainous country and some narrow, treacherous stretches of water.
In accordance to the Napoleonic era plans the Royal navy sailed up the Dardenelles to bombard the defenders of the straights, intending to neutralise the hilltops all the way to an assault on Istanbul itself. Unfortunately they underestimated the threat of mines, the height and the accuracy of the defending Turkish artillery and coastal batteries, and after some losses they couldn't afford at Channakkale near the first narrows, the Royal Navy withdrew, setting the stage for the first modern Amphibious operation to sieze the hieghts and allow for further progression of the Mediterranean fleet up the straights.
And so a week later the troops were landed. This weekly delay did not take in account the contemporary reality of railroads, motorised ferry transport, field artillery and the ability for a force to dug in a network of trenches to easily defend with Bolt-action rifles, Machine guns and Artillery, resulting in the Turks deploying and digging in over an entire Army to defend the area near the straights mouth where the Royal navy furthest ventured. The field of battle was the Gelibolu (forever misspelt as Gallipoli) penisula on one side of the Narrows with one landing at the southern most tip of the peninsula at Cape Hellas and another further north at Ari Burnu which it was hoped would outflank and cut off the main Turkish Corps between them and Cape Hellas. It was the later landing that involved the fresh Australian troops of the first Echelon of the ANZAC.
And so the landings were made on that terrible 25 of April 1915. All he Entente forces were met with a withering defending fire that reputedly decimated the first waves of attackers. The norhtern most British landing was altogether abandoned. Once on shore the invaders found themselves negotiating some very steep escarpments to somewhat assualt the Turkish forward positions. And while beacheads were eventually established the cost in manpower was horrific.
And so the battle was fought for the next 8 months, much like the horrid battles Canadians were enduring at Loos and Ypres but with the added element of hilly and mountainous terrain and a scorching hot Summer. Eventually after making little real progress for all these months and sacrificing 200,000 the entire frontal offensive on Turkey was altogether abandoned.
For Australia this battle has always been held sacred. It was the new country's baptism of fire and its fresh enthusiastic and repeatedly fearless young volunteers suffered some horrific casualties, attacking sttep country that British intelligence had wrongly pre-assumed was undefended. There wouldn't have been a single Australian in 1915 unaffected by the war at Gallipoli, with men whod left expecting their fighting skill to make a difference returning home in coffins or invalid through wounds. And while the Australians reformed and the ANZAC would become an integral part of Britain's forces in Belgium, the stain of Gallipoli has become the country's defining battle. And many Australians still get emotional considering the ordeal its young men endured.
As for New Zealand? well our Division didn't get there until August, where it was part of the second ANZAC echelon that relieved much of the northern beachhead and conducted a successful assault on Chanak Bair, an important peak that had cost the Ockers many lives in a series of unsuccessful assaults. It cost us some heavy casualties too, especially when the Royal navy accidentally shelled the successful assaulters (believing the assault had failed). And so the New Zealand Division was an integral part of the ANZAC forces during the latter phase of the battle, and suffered alongside the Aussies. It wasn't really our baptism of fire, as substantial amounts of New Zealand troops had served during the Boer war, in fact almost all the senior officers and NCO's were Boer war veterans.
Yet in 1919 the country decided to also adopt April 25 as ANZAC day, also our national holiday, although since day one there have been proponents of changing it to August 11th (or something like that) to signify Chanak Bair.
In any case for New Zealand the day signifies the entire Great war, in which New Zealand had the highest enlistment rate of all combattants and would be effected and shaped by its legacy for decades to come. So 25th April also signifies our commitment to Gallipoli, and the subsequent battles on the Somme, Ypres and Messines ridge, as well as the battles of the second world war.
And in any case, many Kiwis were sailed across the Tasman in 1914 and joined the Aussies to get to the war faster, and were amongst those who suffered so terribly in the first, terrible phase of the battle.
So that's the story. Hope you enjoyed and will understand the sacredness Australians feel towards the 25th of April. Am I right to assume Canadians feel the same way about the Dieppe raid?
Last edited by Truekiwijoker; Nov 16th, 2006 at 12:27 AM..