The 25th of April is ANZAC day in Australia and New Zealand, it is the day we commemorate those of our countrymen and women who have died in war. The day is important as it is the date of the first large scale military operation conducted by Australia in the First World War, the landings at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.
Of course we were not alone, British and French troops also landed, to be followed up by New Zealanders and Indian troops as well as others. While the Campaign failed in it’s objective of forcing the Ottoman Empire from the war, it is remembered because of the courage, fortitude, mateship and endurance of the soldiers committed to the fight. While these traits may not be unique to Australia and New Zealand they are an important part of both countries national heritage.
8,800 Australians died in the 9 month Campaign out of an army of less than 50,000. This was a huge shock to Australia as our biggest loses before that had been in the Boer War in South Africa were 600 Australians had been killed over the course of 3 years. A total of 60,000 Australians were killed in the First World War, from German New Guinea to Mesoptamia (Iraq), Palestine and in Northern Russia. The majority of course were killed fighting on the Western Front, including a relative of mine who was killed in August 1918 near Amiens in France.
More than 100,000 Australians have died in war since our first foreign war in the Sudan in 1885. Compared to other countries some may say that’s not many, but they are our people and it is our duty to remember their sacrifice just as it was their duty to serve. From air operations over Norway to naval actions off the Soloman Islands, from POW camps in Japan to the South African veldt, from those who have died in Afghanistan all the way back to those who died on their way home from the Sudan, we remember them.
Lest We Forget