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Waltzing Australia

Sunday, 25 April 2010

ANZAC Day - Lest We Forget

 


ANZAC Day
ANZAC Day, 25th April is the day Australians remember the original landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is our most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australians and New Zealand forces in what became known as The Great War - now called the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces became known as ANZACs.
Today is the 95th anniversary of that landing.

Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsular to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The landed at Gallipoli on April 25th and met strong opposition form the Turkish soldiers. The campaign lasted for eight months. The Allied forces were evacuated at the end of 1915 after severe hardship and heavy losses. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers died and as news of the ill-fated landing at Gallipoli became known, it made a deep impact on Australians back home and the 25th April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the great sacrifice of those who had fought and died.
It is said it was then that "mateship" was born.

We honour those Diggers and all Diggers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Last Post is played every ANZAC Day.

Played by a single bugler it was the signal for soldiers' "lights out" and now is a symbol the dead can rest in peace, their job well done.

 

Stories from World War One


Above: Simpson and his donkey
Simpson used a donkey called Duffy to help him carry injured soldiers to safety at Gallipoli. Simpson’s full name was John Simpson Kirkpatrick.

Simpson and his donkey became famous among the Australian soldiers at Gallipoli because of their bravery. Day after day, week after week, Simpson and his donkey would wind their way through the hills and valleys looking for wounded soldiers. Even though it was very dangerous, Simpson would crawl on his belly and drag soldiers back to safety. He would then put the injured soldier on the donkey’s back and lead him down to the beach.

One day Duffy came down to the beach with a soldier on his back, but without Simpson. Simpson had been killed trying to save another soldier. The donkey somehow knew that even though his friend was dead, Simpson would have wanted him to take the injured man to safety.


 
Above: Photo of Simpson and his donkey, Duffy
This is the only authentic photograph of Simpson and Duffy in action in Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. (Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial-AWM A03114)



Above: Australian Light Horse
These riders are descendants of the Australian Light Horse of WW I.

Christmas In The Trenches
One of the most amazing stories is that of the first Christmas of WWI. On the the eve of Christmas 1914.


Christmas in the Trenches depicts the moods of the soldiers, on both sides of the front lines, during the first Christmas of World War I. It was hailed as the "Amazing Truce" where German and British soldiers took a respite from the War. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his history of 1914, called the Chrismas truce "An amazing spectacle, one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of war".

His phrase, indeed, sums up the attraction of the truce; it is the human dimension which means that this relatively obscure event in the fifth month of a fifty two month war is still remembered and will continue to catch the imagination. In a century in which our conception of war has been on the Exocet, the Cruise Missile and the Neutron Bomb, the fact that in 1914 some thousands of the fighting men of the belligerent nations met and shook hands between their trenches strikes a powerful and appealing note. It is perhaps the best and most heartening Christmas story of modern times.



A young German voice was heard singing "Stille Nacht" and it floated over No Man's Land. Then an English voice sent back "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", and soon the night was filled with voices of men, some of them as young as 16 or 17. Over the stretch of land which separated both sides appeared a white flag as a young German soldier held it high and slowly approached. And from the British side came a soldier who walked forward to meet him. Then the others followed.

These men met on a battlefield as friends and equals. They shared cigarettes, some chocolate and a rare comaraderie, they looked at photos of sweethearts, mothers and loved ones. They sang Christmas carols together. They even played a game of football. And for a short time, they were ordinary people meeting in friendship.

But time does not stand still, and as the first rays of morning light came and the sun peeked its faint pale rays, they shook hands for the last time. And went back to the business of war.

 

Todays Quote: War does not determine who is right - only who is left. ~Bertrand Russell.

9 comments:

Rob and Mandy said...

Hey, you're back!
I used to work as a toutist guide in Turkey, and I took many groups ro Gallipoli, or Gelibolu, as it is really called. Impressive and poignant

Leif Hagen said...

I missed your daily postings! Your Anzac Day posting is amazing and loaded with great "stuff!"

BTW, an amazing airport mosaic from April 6!
All the best BFG!

brattcat said...

I'm sending healing wishes and hope your precious grandson makes a rapid and full recovery. Hang in there.

J Bar said...

Terrific Anzac Day commemoration.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Louis la Vache said...

This is really a superb ANZAC day post. «Louis» is quite a military history buff and he knows well the sacrifices made by the ANZAC troops in both World Wars. Churchill got a lot of the blame for the disaster at Gallipoli, but the truth of the matter is that had the battle been fought the way Churchill wanted, the results probably would have been far different and far less costly for the ANZAC troops. Your inclusion of Simpson is most appreciated. It is good to see North American bloggers reading your post - the role the ANZACS played in both wars is too little known in North America.

On a less sombre note, many bakeries here offer ANZAC cookies - but few know the origin of the name.

BlossomFlowerGirl said...

Rob and Mandy - There are many Australians who make the journey to Gallipoli for the ANZAC Day service each year.

Leif - Thanks Leif. We learnt Australian history when I was a school girl. The mosaic is brialliantly executed. All the best to you too.

Brattcat - Thank you for your get well wishes Brattcat. Poor little tyke has a touch of pneumonia at present but is getting better.

J Bar - Your war memorial series is excellent. Sorry I've not had time to comment just yet.

Louis - Thank you Louis. The story of Simpson and his Donkey was in the Victorian Reader book IV (I was nine) and I've always remembered it.

ANZAC biscuits are so named because the ladies back home used to bake them and send them over to the troops. Being made with oats and golden syrup they travelled well and lasted for quite a while. They were called soldier's biscuits but this was changed to ANZAC biscuits some time later.

Cheers.

Cezar and Léia said...

Quite touching to read about all this bravery!
God bless you!
Cezar

Denise said...

I've enjoyed catching up on all your posts here. You've got a wonderful blog.

JM said...

Great quote to end this wonderful post! The collages are fantastic!

Melbourne Daily Photo

Hello, I created this blog because Melbourne is my city and I want people to see what a beautiful place it is. So come with me on a journey of discovery as we traverse the dining precincts, the culture, the laneways and hidden gems that make Melbourne marvellous.