The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
ANZAC Day is the most important day on the Australian calendar. It is the day all Australians remember those who have fallen in all the Wars that Australia has fought in, and especially for one 8 month action in 1915, when Australia announced that it was no longer a Colonial Force as part of the British Commonwealth, but as an Australian fighting force in its own right.
At 4.15Am on the 25th April 1915 an untried Corps of Australian soldiers waded ashore from the longboats that had brought them there from the large troopships further out to sea. As they came ashore in the Dawn’s half light they were mowed down in droves by the Turkish soldiers who had the high ground.
The Place – an insignificant little Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, part of Turkey, near a small place known as Ari Burnu, now forever burned into every Australian, and known forever as ANZAC Cove, a small piece of Australian Sacred Ground on a foreign shore.
Those coming ashore who survived this murderous onslaught regrouped and started to fight back. This campaign lasted for eight and a half months. In that time, Australian soldiers announced to the World that they were now no longer an untried group of colonials, but a magnificent fighting force, and one to be reckoned with.
Each year from then forward, Australia has recognised that day as the most solemn of days on our Calendar, when we, as a nation, pay reverent homage, not only to those brave men at Gallipoli, but to our Military forces who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in times of War, and for all our current serving men and women in Australia’s military forces.
Services are held across the Country timed for 4.15AM at memorials in the large Capital cities, and across cities and towns all over Australia, literally thousands of such places. While in the early morning at that time, still these services are always attended by masses of people.
Later that same morning, marches are held in many of these places as well. Some marches have literally thousands of men and women marching, with only veterans and current serving members from the three armed forces, and some marches may only have a handful of men marching, as numbers now thin out with the passing of years.
None of those original men who landed at Gallipoli remain now, and even numbers from the Second War are thinning out, as they too age.
While those people march, many thousands line the length of the march and pay solemn tribute to those old men who fought so that we actually could line those streets to salute them, and to also pay silent tribute to those who did not come home.
One of the best attended Dawn services these days is actually at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where thousands of Australians go every year to just stand at one of the most revered places in Australia’s history.
This is a small selection of articles from Australian media outlets detailing this morning’s services. Each link has images and video, and links to further articles on ANZAC Day.
ABC News: Australians gather to remember ANZAC’s
The Australian: It was birth of our nation, PM says
Brisbane’s Courier Mail: Thousands gather for ANZAC Day Dawn Service
Melbourne’s Herald Sun: Thousands attend ANZAC Day dawn service despite rain
Over the four years I have been contributing at this site, I have detailed the three previous ANZAC Days, and I have also detailed the landing, and the withdrawal, and for further information, I will include those links here.
ANZAC Day – 2011 In this Post I have added information about a subsequent action during the Gallipoli Campaign, that of the assault on the trenches at Lone Pine by the Australians.
The Birth Of A Nation. This details the landing at Ari Burnu, now known as ANZAC Cove.
Troop Drawdown. This details the withdrawal of troops from the Peninsula.
I also have a Post about a Brigade Commander from Gallipoli, John Monash, who went on to become a General and who was instrumental in the conclusion of the First World War, and that is at the following link.
Each of those Posts also has further links to other sites, and each Post details aspects of this 8 month campaign.
As I did in last year’s Post, adding further information about an aspect of the Campaign, I am adding some information here with this Post, and this will be about one of Australia’s most famous Soldiers.
The acronym VC used here stands for the Victoria Cross, the highest award for Valor in the Commonwealth, and the American equivalent is The Medal Of Honor. An image of this Medal is shown at the right.
Albert Jacka was the first person to be awarded the VC in World War One. Australia was part of the earlier conflict in South Africa, known as The Boer War from 1899 until 1902 (Correctly The Second Boer War) and during that conflict, six Australians were awarded VC’s.
Jacka enlisted as a Private in late 1914 and was part of the 14th Battalion in the 4th Brigade. After embarkation, he spent 2 months training in Egypt prior to landing at Gallipoli on the second day, the 26th April, 1915.
The British landed in the South of the Peninsula and after more than a Month had barely advanced. The Australians and New Zealanders, half way up the Peninsula also had problems of their own, theirs being the mountainous and very rough terrain. The Australians had advanced very little as the Turks were very well dug in in their trenches, and in fact most of the fighting during that first month was virtually hand to hand. In May, the British launched the Battles for Krithia, and the Australians were used mainly in a diversionary attack role, and while the British advance stalled, the Australians made some small advances, and then dug in to consolidate their position.
In late May, the Turks launched a fierce attack on virtually the whole length of the Australian line. The fighting was the most fierce along a line that included three main outposts along a very long, connected trench line, Quinn’s Post, Steele’s Post and Courtney’s Post, which was in between these two.
Starting at around 4AM, the Turks launched the attack. There were five furious attacks at Quinns Post alone, and, near this, the Turks gained a small section of trench near Courtney’s Post. Having taken this small section, barely 12 yards in length they could go no further. One group of Australians under the command of Lieutenant Crabbe held one end around a curve and were protecting that end. At the other end of this stretch of trench, and on his own was Albert Jacka, a 22 year old Lance Corporal stationed at Courtney’s Post, in a small revetment and firing into the wall, also around a bend in the trench. The Turks could not move in one direction or the other.
Lt. Crabbe knew where Jacka was and shouted at him, that if given support, could he rid the trench of the Turks. Jacka was known to relish a fight, and he said that could be done. Crabbe got four men to join Jacka. This group ran straight ahead into the face of the Turks, but this failed, and two of the men were wounded badly. All four drew back to their previous position and worked on Plan B. Jacka got the three men to lob bombs into the Turkish position while he went outside the trench and into No Man’s Land, and moved to a position where he could come at the Turks from behind.
The bombs in use here were the forerunner to what are called hand grenades these days, but were far more rudimentary, having a fuse that sometimes took up to 8 to 10 seconds to burn down, and often bombs from both sides were thrown, and then returned before the fuse burned down, and sometimes even thrown back again before the fuse ignited the bomb.
During the chaos of the bomb throwing and the resultant explosions, Jacka, now the only uninjured man, skirted around the position and leapt into the trench now occupied by the Turks from the flank. Jacka, now with the advantage of surprise, shot five of the Turks and bayoneted a further two of them, and the rest of the surviving Turks immediately fled the trench, and that length of trench was now secured and back in Australian hands.
He called the ‘All Clear’, and when Lt. Crabbe arrived, Jacka was sitting among the dead Turks with an unlit cigarette he had just finished rolling dangling from his lips. He mentioned that he had got the beggars and did anyone have a light for his smoke.
For this act of selfless bravery, Albert Jacka was awarded the VC.
This immediately made him a National Hero back in Australia, where everyone knew the name Albert Jacka, the first Australian to be awarded the VC in The Great War. (The First World War) He was promoted to Corporal and rose through the ranks to be a Sergeant Major prior to the withdrawal in November, when the Australians returned to Egypt to train further prior to moving to the Western Front along the Somme River in France.
Jacka underwent Officer training and in April of 1916, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
It was considered quite prestigious to be in the same Unit as Albert Jacka, the 14th Battalion, probably the thinking being that he was such a fierce fighter, but he was a good Commander, and was also known as ‘Lucky’ Albert Jacka, probably more to do with the way he went about doing things rather than any luck he may have had.
Now on the Somme, in August of 1916, Jacka was associated with another action almost as dramatic, if not more so, as the first at Gallipoli. For this extreme act of selfless bravery Jacka was awarded the Military Cross, virtually the second highest award for valor after the VC. During this action, Jacka was badly wounded.
After his recovery and return to his Unit, in April of 1917, he was again associated with another selfless act of bravery, almost similar to the other two, and for this he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.
Later that same year, he was again severely wounded during another action, and after he recovered, and now a Captain, he showed remarkable talent for tactics and military intuition.
In early 1918, he was severely gassed at Villers Bretonneux, and he saw no more action, convalescing in a hospital in England for the duration of the War.
He arrived back in Australia in 1919, a National hero.
He went into business, married in 1921, was elected to his local Council, and eventually became Mayor of St Kilda.
He fell ill in late 1931 and died in January 1932, only a week after his 39th birthday. He had never fully recovered from the effects of the gassing on the Somme. There was a huge State funeral with full Military Honours, and 8 VC winners were his pall bearers.
He was described as Australia’s best front line soldier, and his beloved 14th Battalion was affectionately known as ‘Jacka’s Mob’.
All three of his major acts of bravery were considered worthy of the VC it was later said, and as an Officer, he led by example.
Albert Jacka epitomised what the Australian soldier came to be known for. Many tried to be like Albert Jacka, and none came close.
ANZAC Day is a day Australia remembers all its men who have gone away to War, and paid the ultimate price with their lives.
References for this Post:
The information here was obtained from three detailed sources.
The book ‘Gallipoli by Les Carlyon.
The book ‘They Dared Mightily’, by Lionel Wigmore, an Australian War Memorial publication.