Battle of Lone Pine Memorial Service at Gallipoli in Turkey.
Anzac Day – Background and History
25 April 2023
25 April is the national day of commemoration of Australia and New Zealand for victims of war and for recognition of the role of their armed forces. It marks the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces became known as ANZACs. Anzac Day is a commemoration of the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, Turkey on 25 April in 1915. When Great Britain declared war against Germany for its invasion of Belgium in 1914, Australia and New Zealand, as Dominions within the British Empire, regarded themselves automatically also at war.
At dawn on 25 April 1915, the first of approximately 70,000 soldiers from the Allies landed at Gallipoli. The objective was to drive through to Istanbul, take Turkey out of the war and to provide supplies to Russia in its fight against Germany. Out of these 70,000 soldiers, more than 20,000 were Australian and New Zealand soldiers. What had been planned as a bold stroke became a stalemate after the invading troops failed to reach their objective on the first day. For the next eight months they clung to the land they had captured, before eventually withdrawing at the end of 1915.
After both sides had suffered heavy casualties, the Allied forces were evacuated. It is estimated that 8,700 Australian and 2,700 New Zealanders were killed. One year later, in 1916, the first anniversary of the landing was observed in Australia, New Zealand and England and by troops in Egypt. That year, 25 April was officially named ‘Anzac Day’ by the Acting Australian Prime Minister, George Pearce.
Gallipoli campaign, 1915
In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk).
What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans 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 deaths totalled over 56,000, including 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand. 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 the war.
Though the Gallipoli campaign failed to achieve its military objectives of capturing Constantinople and knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war, the actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops 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. The heroism of the soldiers in the failed Gallipoli campaign made their sacrifices iconic in New Zealand memory, and is often credited with securing the psychological independence of the nation.
Veterans reflect on the meaning of Anzac Day and why it can be a difficult day – ABC News
22 Apr 2023
“As I have learned more about Australian, and in particular Tasmanian colonial history, there seems to be a glaring omission as to the conflict that occurred between Indigenous and white settler people.
“So much focus is placed on the conflicts from WWI onwards and there is little to no acknowledgement or commemoration for all the people who suffered in the frontier conflicts of the 18th and 19th century.”
Anzac Day sees greater acknowledgment of Indigenous soldiers SBS NITV
25 April 2023
Just last week, Mr Beazley advocated for Aboriginal resistance fighters to be included in the Australian War Memorial.
When referring to the long-running Frontier Wars, Mr Beazley said that “I think for the original population of Australia, the First Nations people, they deserve the dignity of resistance.”
He said that greater recognition of the Frontier Wars in the War Memorial would be an important part of truth-telling.
Despite Mr Beazley’s comments, the Returned Servicemen League (RSL) is against incorporating the Frontier Wars in Anzac Day services.
What you need to know about the Frontier Wars SBS NITV
19 September 2022
Every year the nation stops to remember wartime conflicts from Verdun to Vietnam. But where is the same reverence for the wars fought on our very own soil?
The term Frontier Wars refers to the conflict between European colonists and First Nations people from 1788 onwards.
As the British sought to establish a colony in Australia, Indigenous nation groups resisted.
This conflict resulted in Australia’s first wars and was a violent history that included organised battles and open massacres.
It began with the arrival of the British in 1788 and lasted into the 1930s.
We may never know the exact number of people who died but academics and historians have made estimations of the death toll.
More links to this Article – Mick Raven
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