So... I spend a lot of time writing about heroes, but yesterday (April 25th) was a day in Australia where we celebrate the most courageous of our national heroes: our ANZAC's. The acronym stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and every April 25th, we salute all who have fought for our country and commemorate the anniversary of the first major military action fought by our ANZAC forces in the First World War.
So why is it so important to us Aussies? In 1915, the ANZAC forces set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, and ultimately Constantinople (Istanbul). They landed at Gallipoli on 25th April and met heavy resistance from the Ottoman Turks, with a stalemate that dragged on for eight months. Yep, that's right. Eight months. By the end of that time, both sides had suffered heavy losses and over 8,000 Australians were lost in action before they were forced to withdraw.
|My boyfriend and I at Anzac Cove in 2008.|
In 2008, my boyfriend and I travelled through Turkey and managed to visit what is now known as Anzac Cove. Although we were on an entire tour bus of under-35's (with all that entails), there was an amazing sense of silence once we reached the cove. You can see the cliffs that our soldiers tried to climb from their beach landing, and it's an unreal feeling to think of all that occurred there. To imagine Simpson and his Donkey, going out into 'no man's land' between the fighting forces, to bring back wounded troops; or those fighting in trenches for nearly eight months in horrible conditions. Some men froze to death or had to have limbs amputated due to the extreme weather conditions.
|The Australian Memorial at Gallipoli. The Red Poppy is our ANZAC flower of remembrance.|
The one thing that surprised me from that trip, is the amount of respect all three nations fighting in that battle had for each other. Sometimes Turkish and ANZAC soldiers would share cigarettes and food rations with each other between the fighting. If anything good came out of this conflict, it was a goodwill and friendship between the three nations that lasts until this day, and a commitment to peace.
Nowadays, towns in Australia hold a memorial at dawn, to commemorate that dawn landing. There's nothing quite as haunting as hearing the trumpet Reveille and thinking about those that gave their lives. My Dad and his wife are actually in Gallipoli right now and attended the dawn service there to pay their respects, which is something I would love to do one day.
Here is one of my favourite poems from the service:
Lest We Forget
'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We shall remember them.'
I hope I have done our ANZAC heroes some justice with this post.