ANZAC Day – 25th April 2021

Posted on Sun 04/25/2021 by


By Anton Lang ~

Why is ANZAC Day so important 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.

An original image of one of the landings at ANZAC Cove, this one at 8AM on April 25 1915. (Image Credit – Australian War Memorial Archives)

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 as it is here in Australia.

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 Australian troops, commanded by Australians fought for the first time for each other as fellow Australians.

The original Badge of the Australian Army, worn on the hats of every Australian soldier. This is known as The Rising Sun Badge.

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 just one  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 who fought and died at Gallipoli, but to all our Australian 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 2020

I did not attend any services or marches this year. Now seventy years old, my knees can’t really stand up to much theses days. I still do remember those early days when I was in the Royal Australian Air Force, and we marched almost every year, and I also remember the great feeling of pride on that day. This year however, I blinked awake from sleep at precisely 4.30AM, the time of that first landing at Gallipoli, and had private thoughts of what those men would have gone through in the half light, getting out of the boats and running up the beach raked by machine gun fire from the high ground in front of them. It sends a shiver up your spine just thinking about it.

Dawn Services were held all across the Country, many thousands of them, the largest in the Capital cities of each of the States, with some restrictions because of the ongoing situation with the Coronavirus. Services were in the main all well attended. Later on in the morning, marches were held as well, also numbering in the thousands, with crowds gathering to respectfully cheer them all on.

Again this year, and also because of the bad situation with the Coronavirus in Turkey, there were no Services at Gallipoli or Lone Pine as is always the case on this day of commemoration.

A good summary of those services and marches in Australia is shown at the following link to the ABC Media outlet, and it details the happenings in each of the States, along with Numerous images from the Services and the marches.

ANZAC Day across Australia

Beersheba and the last great mounted Cavalry Charge

While most of the concentration is centred around that landing at Gallipoli, when Australia ‘stood up’ and was first noted, this year I thought I might mention another of the so many battles fought by that now magnificent Australian Armed Forces which served with so much distinction during that awful War, World War One.

Whilst the vast bulk of the war fighting effort was carried out in France, there were many other fields where men came into conflict. One of those was in Palestine, where the German led Turkish Army also engaged in fierce fighting.

This one battle I mention was the attack on Beersheba, which is now a large city in Southern Israel in the Negev Desert. At the time Beersheba was a strategic post in that Southern Palestine area of conflict. Why it was so important was that the town itself was built around huge wells, the only source of water in the region. It was also the gateway to the large Port of Gaza, which was held by the Turks, and it was vital that Gaza be captured by The Allies, so that they had a large base of operations for further operations in that strategic area.

While the Turks thought that the main attack would come at Gaza, the thinking was that the water itself was of most importance.

A large battle was planned, on many fronts to capture Beersheba. The British started early in the morning and by mid afternoon, while gaining some ground had not taken Beersheba. To assist the British advances, the 4th Brigade of The Australian Light Horse were set up 6 miles to the South East of the town, virtually unaware of the Turks in the town. This Brigade had moved into position overnight having come from the wells 31 miles away, riding, and sometimes walking their horses through the night in the desert dust.

Now set up, and late in the afternoon, Beersheba had not been taken. Word got to the Australians that they were the ones now tasked with making an attempt. The Australian Commander General Harry Chauvel was told that he would now have to use the Light Horse to take the town, hopefully. Brigadier General William Grant devised a plan to just charge at the Turks on their horses.The problem was that water itself, and the horses were getting skittish, smelling water, and not being able to get to it, so losing some advantage of discipline. General Grant himself said as much in his words to the assembled men, telling them that “Men, you are fighting for water.”

The 4th and 12th Regiments of his Brigade would lead the charge, with the 11th Regiment coming behind in reserve. He told his men to just use their bayonets, waving them like swords as they charged. These bayonets were the longer ones used during WW1, almost 15 inches long, and while waiting, all the men were ordered to sharpen the points. The men were lined up along a broad front, almost 800 of them, and they set off at a walk. After a few minutes this was raised to a trot. The Turks were now (well) aware of them as they were lined up in front of them in the distance. However, this was (seemingly) not a problem as conventional mounted Cavalry procedure was that they rode their horses to around a mile or so from the lines, dismounted, and then marched ahead on foot, and this would give the Turks ample time to ‘zero’ their large shrapnel guns and rifles on the troops proceeding on foot. Also, it was open ground, just desert in fact.

However, this did not happen. From the trot, they all moved into a flat out gallop, and just kept on coming, yelling and waving their bayonets. The Turks now panicked and all their shrapnel and rifles now zeroed for the longer distance passed virtually harmlessly overhead as the mounted troops advanced at pace. 800 screaming men galloping on horses into the teeth of battle. In minutes they were upon the Turks who had no answer to these ‘raving lunatics’ on horses. The mounted troops jumped the trenches. Some kept on going straight into the town itself, and some dismounted and now led an attack from the Turks rear, as well, as the now still advancing mounted men in front of them. Those in the town itself were totally surprised and had no time at all to implement their plans, if the unfortunate eventuated and they were going to be over run, those plans entailed blowing up all of the wells. They had no time at all to do this, and the Australians, aware of Intelligence of where to go to save that blowing up from happening moved straight to that point and saved this from happening.

The whole Battle, from start to mopping up, took just one hour.

The Turks had suffered 500 dead, as many injured and the Australians took 1500 prisoners. The Australians lost 31 men killed, and lost 70 of their horses. Beersheba was taken virtually intact. All of the wells were secured. The next day, the British moved in and the now retreating Turks who escaped earlier in the day in their numbers surrendered.

This was an absolutely stunning victory.

It goes down in history as the last massed mounted Cavalry charge in a Battle.

It opened the way to Gaza, as now there was a secure source of water for the vast Allied armies fighting in this area and Gaza soon fell, hastening the end of conflict in Palestine.

The Australian Light Horse is revered here in Australia. They took their own horses with them, Walers from New South Wales, (hence the name Walers) a sturdy Australian horse developed especially for the vast Australian outback, and perfectly suited for this sort of armed fighting.

The men themselves were a breed of their own, accustomed to riding, and now hardened in Battle long long before Beersheba. This was just the culmination of what they had been trained to do. All the men wore the typical Australian Army slouch hat, only with one special feature. Each hat had a large Emu feather poked through one of the ‘breathing’ holes in the hat itself. Even though feathers from the large Australian flightless bird, the Emu, these were Australians and another famous Australian native animal was the Kangaroo, which has fur, and no feathers at all. These Australian men, long famous before Beersheba became known as the men with hats holding kangaroo feathers.

In one of the links below, I detail General Sir John Monash, and this is just another in a very very long list of Australian achievements in this awful War.

Related Posts

General Monash reviewing his last ANZAC Day Parade, 25th April 1931. Image From Australian Government National Archives.

Over the thirteen 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.

Permanent link to the Index for the earlier ANZAC Day Posts.

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 Post of mine, also from 2008 details the withdrawal of troops from the Gallipoli Peninsula at the end of the Campaign in January 1916.

General Sir John Monash.  This is the Post of my own I made in 2009, and it 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.