100 YEARS ON- ANZAC DAY – LEST WE FORGET

It is a national holiday observed in every Aussie town, large and small, it is a day so sacred that merchants once required special permission to open their doors, Anzac day and its memorial services, honoring our soldiers, becomes increasingly popular with every passing year, and this year, the 100th anniversary is, by far, the biggest event yet.   IMG_20150425_055230 (Small)

Together with New Zealand, Australia has few non-indigenous traditions and as such, we have clung on to this one event in our history, and made it a tradition observed by young and old alike. The proud, egalitarian, happy-go-lucky spirit, our friendly ‘larrikinism’, our casual “she’ll be right” Australian attitude is epitomized in the ANZAC forces (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), in WWI.  Anzac memorial services have become a tradition, not because they were a wonderful success, (the original campaign was, in fact, an abject failure, and led to the dismissal of Winston Churchill), but rather because this event has so defined our nation and become entrenched in our psyche and because we, as a nation, need to remember April 25, ANZAC  Day, “Lest We Forget.”

Memorial services are held at dawn, and are attended by millions of  Australians, like me,  across Australia, whether or not they have family members who are military veterans. Why dawn, you might ask? Stand 2, or dawn, is seen by the military, as the best time to launch an offensive strike. Anzac day’s dawn service commemorates the exact time the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand combined Army Corps), forces attacked the Gallipoli peninsula in the Dardenelles, in Turkey in 1915, 100 years ago.

The most moving tribute of all is the laying of the wreaths on the community monument to the sounds of the Last Post. A truly poigant moment….

A few naysayers think  Anzac day is becoming over-commercialised, but I would rather see this, than forget the sacrifice of those young men and indeed their families who lost loved ones; rather see this than forget the lessons learned in the “war to end all wars”, rather see this than have the general public forget the true meaning of Anzac day altogether and instead think of it as just another day off from work. Pondering the lessons learned in quiet remembrance will ultimately fade away in time without the awareness of the meaning behind the holiday, driven mainly by the media, won’t they?

In almost every suburb in the community, there stands a statue with a soldier (known as a digger – presumably because they dug trenches in which to fight), or that of a light horseman. We owe many things and perhaps, even our liberty, to brave young men who without much thought, willingly signed up to fight someone else’s war. In particular, those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, giving all that they had to give: like my 2 Step Great Uncles that gave their life. My Great Uncle Ted was a Gallipoli veteran who survived the campaign and was left with respiratory problems for the rest of his life, from mustard gas inhalation.

The Gallipoli conflict was not one that involved Australia directly, but rather our allies. So it was due to the strong colonial ties that prevailed at this point in our history, and  the fact that Australia was not permitted, by Britain, to have a fully autonomous military force, that we sent our bravest and strongest young men to fight in the war in Europe. Firstly, to protect the Suez Canal, Churchill then wanted to make a quick strike to knock Turkey out of the war, who was allied with Britain’s enemy, Germany. But how wrong can one get? Very wrong, as it turns out…

Gallipoli, the Turkish Anzac campaign, was a much documented disaster, for which Winston Churchill was entirely to blame. He could not have chosen a worse location: landing troops on a beach under a steep cliff atop where Turkish snipers were waiting to pick them off. The allied forces were forced to withdraw * months later long after the first landing. Churchill was later sacked as Prime Minister.

The Australia population was then around 500,000. Australian casualties for the campaign were 26,111, comprising 1007 officers and 25,104 other ranks. Of these, 362 officers and 7779 men (total 8,141) were killed in action, died of wounds or succumbed to disease. These were our bravest and strongest men, our genetic best, and many were not to return or were to return incapacitated in mind or body. For a young nation struggling to find its feet, their loss was devastating.

Even though the name ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) pertained to the original WWI conflict in Gallipoli, the name has become synonymous with military personnel fighting under the Australian and New Zealand flags until they were formerly separated into distinct military forces. And so, the event lives on in our community, with children wearing their father’s medals from conflicts in Vietnam, Korea and Afghanistan, and  younger people wearing their grandfather and great grandfather’s medals, from WWI and WWII, with pride and remembrance.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them…. Uncle Ted and the others…. lest we forget.

More about the history of Anzac day here:

Significance of ANZAC day from Wiki

Australia

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga.

History

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.[1] The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand.[2] This is a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name.

The Gallipoli campaign

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for thirteen years. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, under a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk). What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied Gallipoli casualties included 21,255 from the UK, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from British India. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives of capturing Istanbul and knocking Ottoman Empire out of the war, the Australian and New Zealand troops’ actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an “Anzac legend” became an important part of the national identity in both countries. This has shaped the way their citizens have viewed both their past and their understanding of the present.

Anzac Day is a national public holiday and is considered one of the most spiritual and solemn days of the year in Australia. Marches by veterans from all past wars, as well as current serving members of the Australian Defence Force and Reserves, with allied veterans as well as the Australian Defence Force Cadets and Australian Air League and supported by members of Scouts Australia, Guides Australia, and other uniformed service groups, are held in cities and towns nationwide. The Anzac Day Parade from each state capital is televised live with commentary. These events are generally followed by social gatherings of veterans, hosted either in a public house or in an RSL Club, often including a traditional Australian gambling game called two-up, which was an extremely popular pastime with ANZAC soldiers. The importance of this tradition is demonstrated by the fact that though most Australian states have laws forbidding gambling outside of designated licensed venues, on Anzac Day it is legal to play “two-up”.

Despite federation being proclaimed in Australia in 1901, many[who?] argue the “national identity” of Australia was largely forged during the violent conflict of World War I,[9][10] and the most iconic event in the war for most Australians was the landing at Gallipoli. Dr. Paul Skrebels of the University of South Australia has noted that Anzac Day has continued to grow in popularity;[11] even the threat of a terrorist attack at the Gallipoli site in 2004[12] did not deter some 15,000 Australians from making the pilgrimage to Turkey to commemorate the fallen ANZAC troops.[13]

Something Sombre to Ponder About

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About Forestwoodfolkart

Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. I have Scandinavian, Frisian and Prussian/Silesian ancestry and for that reason, I feel a connection with that part of the world. I am an avid Nordic Crime fiction reader, and enjoy photography, writing and a variety of cooking and crafts, and traditional decorative art forms. Politically aware and egalitarian by nature, I have a strong environmental bent.
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15 Responses to 100 YEARS ON- ANZAC DAY – LEST WE FORGET

  1. steve zimmett says:

    I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THESE WARS. BUT IT REMINDED ME OF THE Armenians AND THEIR PLIGHT WITH THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE ON APRIL 24, 1915.This much is known: Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported in the violence unleashed by Ottoman Turks starting on April 24, 1915. But as the 100th anniversary of these events is marked on Friday, it remains a bitter source of contention between Turks and Armenians.http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401791172/a-century-after-atrocities-against-armenians-an-unresolved-wound

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    • Someone just posted about this on social media. Thank you for mentioning it and the Armenians. Turkey was then allied with Russia, and this was the reason for the persecution? Many Armenians became citizens of Australia after this period of history. A sad and sorrowful day for people of this conflict also. My great grandmother lost all of her children early… two at Gallipoli. How many mothers lost their children needlessly in war? We should never forget the soldiers but just as importantly, the lessons to avoid war and conflict. Hate is easy, love takes courage!

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  2. While we remember the past let us not forget the present and especially not our PM and his treatment of asylum seekers whereby a 5 years old girl with ptsd is to be sent to Nauru and in detention.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-23/lawyer-for-5yo-girl-with-ptsd-argues-against-her/6416792

    Children are now referred to as ‘it’ and asylum seekers as ‘those people’.

    It puts a jarring note on the 100 years Anzac memorial, when I see the tearful speeches by our politicians while condoning the horrors of allowing people that have done no wrong to languish for years in detention. How can we relate the mateship and endurance of the Anzacs and their quest for freedom 100 years ago with what we are allowing now?

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    • The message of mateship seems lost on politicians that inter children in detention. The horrors of the past shall still be remembered and may it not overshadow crimes against humanity occurring in our midst today. This is an important issue that deeply saddens me, as it does the way we blindly slaughtered men. Our nation’s psyche I would hope will still encourage people from all walks of life to immigrate here. It is up to us to vote out the politicians that perpetrate these vile acts. Act at the ballot box, Australia!

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  3. We need to remember that many more were killed fighting on the Western Front during WW1. 1916 was particularly bloody. While almost 9000 were killed in the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign, in just six weeks of fighting at Pozieres, 7,000 Australians lost their lives and for no real gain. 45,000 Australians died on the Western Front. We can get a bit caught up with just associating the ANZAC story with Gallipoli but it was really on the fields of France that we grew up as a nation.

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    • Yes, I thank you for drawing attention to that. My grandfather is law was in the Somme and won a MM. But I think the Gallipoli campaign is what sparked this tradition, even if it is a little misguided. We should hear much more about these conflicts, and I believe in parts of France and Belgian, people think more of Australia than er do of those battlefield s.

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  4. Remembering your fighting warriors is most honorable. I salute you for continuing the tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. steve zimmett says:

    I got this from the Guardian, Anzac Day 2015: centenary of Gallipoli landings – rolling coverage
    http://www.theguardian.com/news/live/2015/apr/25/anzac-day-2015-centenary-of-gallipoli-landings-rolling-coverage?CMP=ema_632

    Liked by 1 person

  6. steve zimmett says:

    Forestwoodfolkart Thanks for your comment. I find the Guardian to be very resourceful and get their emails daily

    Liked by 1 person

  7. zimmett says:

    Scott McIntyre is probably wrong with some of his tweets although I do not believe he should have been fired

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