By Anton Lang ~
The importance of ANZAC Day in Australia
At 4.15AM on Sunday 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 was an insignificant little Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, part of Turkey, near a small place known as Ari Burnu, now forever known as ANZAC Cove, a small piece of Australian Sacred Ground on a foreign shore.
The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
Forces from New Zealand were also part of this campaign, hence the acronym includes New Zealand, who, while part of this campaign, were under the command of their own fellow New Zealanders. This was a combined effort, and this day is also recognised just as reverently in New Zealand.
So, why is this one day so revered by Australians, when the 8 Month campaign that followed was considered in the main overall scheme of the War as a failure, considering that Australia has been part of so many famous victories on fields of battle in War since that time.
This was when Australia, commanded by Australians fought for the first time for each other as fellow Australians.
Those coming ashore who survived this original 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 in their own right, and one to be reckoned with.
During those 8 Months, nine Australians were awarded The Victoria Cross for valour, the highest award for bravery that there is. (This is the equivalent of the Medal of Honor in the U.S.) In fact, seven of those medals were awarded in a three day period. This was at Lone Pine, in August, where the Australians engaged in what was a diversionary feint to disguise the massed landing by the British further up the Coast at Suvla Bay. This Lone Pine engagement was some of the most savage hand to hand combat in close quarters of the whole 8 Month period at Gallipoli.
During that 8 Month period of this Gallipoli Campaign, 8,709 Australian soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
Each year from then forward, Australia has recognised that day of the first landing 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 all Wars, and for all our current serving men and women in Australia’s military forces.
Dawn Services are held across the Country timed for 4.15AM local time at memorials in the large Capital cities, and across cities and towns all over Australia, literally at thousands of such places. While still early morning at that time, these services are always attended by masses of people all across Australia.
Later that same morning, marches are held in many of these places as well. Those marches in the Capital cities 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.
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.
ANZAC Day April 25th 2016
This year marks the Centenary of the first Dawn Services and Marches. In 1916, there were only a small number of places where this happened. This form of Commemoration gained strength even in those early years, and quite soon, the Dawn Service and then the March became an established tradition. It was thought that it might fade away, but it has come back strongly, and now those services timed at 4.15AM are attended by crowds larger than ever before, and increasing in attendance with each passing year. The best attended of all the Dawn Services in Australia is the one held at the War Memorial in our National Capital, Canberra. Probably the largest attended Dawn Service is actually held at ANZAC Cove on that Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, where many thousands travel from Australia to gather for the Service at 4.15AM on the same soil where those brave men came ashore in 1915.
The same has happened with attendance at the marches as numbers of those lining the streets to watch also increase with each passing year. While there are no veterans from that First Great War left, and even those veterans from the Second World War are now thinning dramatically, Australia still has many veterans from other fields of conflict, and this year, the Vietnam Veterans will lead the major marches in the capital cities, and at other places where they live.
News articles for ANZAC Day
In Rockhampton, where I live, the Dawn Service was again attended by record numbers. The article at this link details a report from the first Commemoration in 1916.
One of the better attended Dawn Services is on the beach at Currumbin on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The article at this link details the events from Currumbin.
This link details events from The War Memorial in Canberra.
This link details events from Sydney.
This link has an image gallery of events from around Australia.
The Service at ANZAC Cove on Gallipoli is still happening and this link details some of the early events there, and also some of the lead up events as well.
Over the eight years I have been contributing at this site, I have detailed all those previous ANZAC Days, and I have also detailed the landing, and the withdrawal, and for further information, I will include those links here. Each of those Posts includes some of the other aspects about the original landing and subsequent action during the eight and a half Month Campaign.
The Birth Of A Nation. My first ANZAC Day Post from 2008. This details the original landing at Ari Burnu, which is now known as ANZAC Cove, in the early morning of 25th April 1915.
Troop Drawdown. This details the withdrawal of troops from the Peninsula at the end of the Campaign in January 1916.
General Sir John Monash. This Post is about a Brigade Commander from Gallipoli, Colonel John Monash, who went on to become a General and who was instrumental in the conclusion of the First World War.
Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.