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 will remember them
Lest We Forget
On April 25th, 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed in ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey. For nine months until thy were evacuated they were pinned down, facing steep cliffs, heavy artillery fire and lethal snipers. This campaign was doomed from the start due to miscommunication and poor planning: it was planned using inaccurate maps and an incomplete understanding of Ottoman defences and it seems likely that due to confusion in the dark they did not land on their intended beach. Yet despite the odds, the ANZACs held the beach for nine months, inflicting heavy casualties to the defenders on the cliffs despite losing nearly ten thousand soldiers of their own.
The ANZAC story holds huge significance to Australians. In the words of the official war historian of the time:
"Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat."
For us, ANZAC Day is an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of all our soldiers, both those who've returned and those who've paid the ultimate price, as well as their friends and families who've suffered in the name of the peace and safety of our country. It's an opportunity to be thankful for what we have and an opportunity to remind ourselves what our country stands for.
Here's just two examples of the ingenuity, courage and endurance of our soldiers in that campaign:
The story of how we evacuated is very clever, hence the ingenuity part of the ANZAC legend. It was estimated by British generals that we'd lose about half our soldiers during the evacuation but what our soldiers did was they rigged their guns to fire sporadically at the Ottoman forces. One way they did this was to tie two strings to the trigger - one to hold the trigger back and one connected to a weight that pulled the trigger when a candle burned through the first string. Another way was to attach an empty can to the trigger and place a can full of water on a ledge above this. Then, right before evacuating they'd punch a hole in the can so that water would trickle into the lower can and once it became heavy enough it would pull the trigger. Because the evacuation happened in the dead of night the Ottoman forces were convinced for a long time that we were still in the trenches on the beach. The end result was that 80,000 soldiers were evacuated with just half a dozen casualties during the evacuation.
One of our bravest and most loved heroes served at ANZAC Cove too. His name was John Simpson and he was a field ambulance stretcher bearer. On April 26th, 1915, the morning after he arrived in ANZAC Cove, he found a donkey on the beach and with that donkey set about rescuing injured soldiers and bringing them back behind our lines, singing and whistling the whole way. Unfortunately on May 19th, 1915 he was shot in the back by the Ottoman forces and killed instantly. However, in the 24 days that he served he single handedly saved the lives of over 300 soldiers and this while constantly being fired upon by snipers and artillery! Unfortunately due to an error in the paperwork he was never officially decorated nor given the Victoria Cross he deserves. Still, he's just one of the many heroes who've served out country that we remember on ANZAC Day.
So thank you, all you men and women who have served and who continue to serve in our armed forces in the name of the peace, security and safety of our country. Your sacrifice and commitment is truly appreciated and although I'm a few days posting this it still means a lot to me to be able to say thank you to all of you in my own special way.
Thank you very much to hukley for this picture!