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Bigfella
24 Apr 14,, 18:30
April 25 is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. it is the day when we all stop to remember those who have served & those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

Ninety Nine years ago today Tens of thousands of British, French & ANZAC (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) troops stormed ashore along the Gallipoli Peninsular in Turkey. it was a poorly conceived & ultimately ill-fated attempt to clear the Dardenelles of Turkish forces & clear the way for Anglo-French ships to sail to Istanbul & force Turkey out of the war. Unfortunately an attempt to force the straits in February 1915 by a largely naval taskforce had not only failed, it alerted the Turks to the vulnerability of the Dardenelles.

When those soldiers landed months later 60,000 Turkish troops awaited them. The ANZAC landings, carried out under cover of darkness, went well. The British landings, during the day and at the southern tip of the peninsular, were bloodier. Neither force was able to push far inland, and by the end of the first day the ANZAC commander was requesting that his troops be re-embarked. On the other side a 34 year old Lieutenant Colonel commanding a division had correctly anticipated the likely landing sites. He immediately saw that the smaller ANZAC landings further north. Gathering all available troops he counter-attacked. At this point any chance of success for the invasion ended.

The campaign itself took 9 months to play itself out. In the nature of WW1 campaigns there were lots of trenches, pointless charges & bloody fights over a few square meters of ground. In the end the most successful aspect of the campaign was the brilliantly disguised evacuation that saw thousands of troops removed at virtually no cost. From a Turkish point of view the campaign brought to greater prominence the man who would become Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Perhaps it wasn't a total waste.

In the end 56,000 Allies soldiers were killed, 123,000 wounded & 7,000 missing & captured. Turkey may have lost as many as 87,000 killed. This was not Australia's first war as an independent nation, but the scale of the undertaking was immense. During the years of the Boer War perhaps 16,000 Australians served and 600 died. Something like 30,000 ANZAC troops were assembled for the initial landings alone and of the dead 8700 were Australian & 2700 New Zealanders. Orders of magnitude beyond anything we had ever experienced and a shock to the psyche of a young nation.

By the end of WW1 330,000 Australians had served overseas, over 250,000 were casualties & over 60,000 of those were dead. Drive through any small town in Australia & you will see memorials to those who died. The impact on the nation has been permanent.

My own family's relationship with ANZAC Day is odd. My grandfather's birthday was April 25, and as a kid I found it strange that the whole nation stopped on that day. He was 15 on the first ANZAC Day. He later tried to enlist, but was rejected by a local doctor for reasons that have never been clear (could have been under age, medical or 'protected occupation'). I have always wondered what he thought as he saw the returned men marching on his birthday every year past his bakery. My other grandfather served in WW2. It wasn't something he talked about or much cared to remember. He didn't march on ANZAC Day. His brothers, one of whom was a Japanese POW, marched on occasion. My parents were part of the generation that reacted against the long shadow of their parents WW2 service and the Vietnam War by turning their backs on ANZAC Day & what they saw (not without some justification) as a glorification of values they did not share.

By the late 70s it seemed that the whole tradition might die off altogether. Instead it has undergone a revival as the grandchildren of the WW2 generation took a different view. There are key elements of this with which I have deep reservations, but that is a discussion for another day. I am pleased that the tradition of commemorating our veterans has been kept alive. We should honour their service.

Whenever I think of ANZAC Day two remarkable pieces of writing.

The first is an ode we would recite as schoolchildren every year:

They shall grow not 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.

The second is the words of a one time enemy who found it in his hear to forgive, on behalf of his nation, those who had sought to invade it. The words of Kemal Ataturk in 1934 are a remarkable testament to the ability to forgive, to the universal experience of the soldier & to something fundamentally human that transcends conflict:

“Those heroes that shed their blood

And lost their lives.

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore, rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies

And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side

Here in this country of ours,

You, the mothers,

Who sent their sons from far away countries

Wipe away your tears,

Your sons are now lying in our bosom

And are in peace

After having lost their lives on this land they have

Become our sons as well”.

tantalus
24 Apr 14,, 19:46
By the end of WW1 330,000 Australians had served overseas, over 250,000 were casualties & over 60,000 of those were dead. Drive through any small town in Australia & you will see memorials to those who died. The impact on the nation has been permanent.

Cant say the same for the Irish. Tens of thousands dead in the war, several thousand at Gallipoli, and it's barely acknowledged due to our complicated history with the British. During the war, we rebelled against British rule, while Irish men fought against the crown in Dublin, even more Irish men fought with the crown across Europe, when they returned, Ireland was in the middle of a war that eventually resulted in independence, their service in the British army was considered a stain, they were actively discriminated against by the state and memorials were short on hand to say the least. The first official commemoration of the Irish dead from World War 1 wasn't until 2006.

Big K
24 Apr 14,, 19:48
whenever i read these lines, i can not blink back the tears...

i truly believe that The ANZACS have always a special place in the hearts & minds of people of Turkey

tantalus
24 Apr 14,, 19:51
whenever i read these lines, i can not blink back the tears...

i truly believe that The ANZACS have always a special place in the hearts & minds of people of Turkey
That is remarkable. How can that be?

Bigfella
25 Apr 14,, 03:01
Cant say the same for the Irish. Tens of thousands dead in the war, several thousand at Gallipoli, and it's barely acknowledged due to our complicated history with the British. During the war, we rebelled against British rule, while Irish men fought against the crown in Dublin, even more Irish men fought with the crown across Europe, when they returned, Ireland was in the middle of a war that eventually resulted in independence, their service in the British army was considered a stain, they were actively discriminated against by the state and memorials were short on hand to say the least. The first official commemoration of the Irish dead from World War 1 wasn't until 2006.

I can see why Ireland would have such a vexed relationship with WW1. History is often shades of grey.

Bigfella
25 Apr 14,, 03:20
whenever i read these lines, i can not blink back the tears...

i truly believe that The ANZACS have always a special place in the hearts & minds of people of Turkey

I feel the same Kerem. It is a strange & wonderful thing that war should create a stronger bond between former enemies than it does between some former allies. Perhaps we feel bound by a shared sense of loss. All those fine young men. All those wasted lives on both sides.

Your Ataturk was truly a remarkable man. We would not have been so forgiving.


That is remarkable. How can that be?

It is. I realise that Kerem is a little busy right now, but it would be illuminating if he could offer us a little more of the Turkish perspective.

I know that there was considerable respect from the ANZAC side for the Turks. While there was obviously the enmity of men trying to kill each other, there isn't a sense that the hatred went any deeper than the conflict created by circumstance. Turks certainly don't share the same place as Japanese or even Germans in the hierarchy of 'baddies'. When Australian & Turkish troops encountered each other in Korea as Allies there was a genuine sense of affection. Strange indeed.

Perhaps there is some guide in post-WW2 Europe & the rapproachment between France & Germany - the realization that all their shared bloodshed had just been a terrible waste. Still, I don't think quite the same level of affection is there.

Bigfella
25 Apr 14,, 11:14
To expand on the unique friendship between Australia & Turkey, it has become increasingly common to see 3 flags flown at ANZAC Day ceremonies - Australian, New Zealand & Turkish. A practice that I think started at the annual remembrance ceremonies at Gallipoli itself has become more widespread. it is a striking image indeed.


For the first time, Turkey's flag flew alongside the Australian flag at the Cenotaph in Brisbane as thousands gathered for the Anzac Day dawn service.

Turkish honorary consul to Queensland Turgut Allahmanli arrived for the service bearing a wreath in honour of those who died on the beaches and in the hills overlooking Anzac Cove 95 years ago.

He said he was proud that the Turkish flag flew alongside the Australian flag at the Cenotaph, a symbol of the friendship forged in the horror of battle.

Mr Allahmanli said young people of both nations are learning to respect each other as they learned the history of Gallipoli.

He said Turkish admiration for their enemy began almost as soon as the battle, led by Turkish general, and later founder of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.

"Kemal Ataturk was very surprised and admired the Australians who had travelled so far from their homes,'' Mr Allahmanli said.

Many young people were among around 10,000 who gathered, subdued and respectful, for the Anzac Day dawn service in Brisbane's Anzac Square.

Many, unable to get into a crowded Anzac Square, watched the solemn service on large TV screens in the adjacent Post Office Square.

Dozens of other gatherings across Queensland paused at 4.28am (AEST) to remember, and to give thanks.

The dawn service in Brisbane was attended by Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley, Premier Anna Bligh and Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek.

Governor Wensley told the hushed crowd Australians must continue to honour the Anzacs and remember their sacrifice.

A member for the Anzac Day organising committee in Brisbane, Vietnam veteran Arthur Burke, said the service was little changed from the first one held at the Cenotaph in 1931.

"It was traditionally simple,'' Mr Burke said of the Dawn Service.

"We have maintained the service that was started here in 1931, with only a few modifications for modern technology,'' he said.

It is also worth pointing out that the veterans who march on ANZAC Day every year are not just Australian. Anyone who served in a army allied to Australia can march too. Every year we get Poles, Yugoslavs, British, South Vietnamese and many more. The largest cheer often goes to the small Turkish contingent - allies during the Korean war.

Another story.


Turks, remembering Anzac Day is an entirely different affair to the sombre tone at dawn services across Australia.

Turkey's main service remembering the Gallipoli campaign was held on Thursday, at the southern tip of the peninsula.

It was a triumphant celebration of Turkey's military might.

After all, they did overcome their attackers in the 1915 campaign.

At the ceremony, the colourful Ottoman Army Band performed, with their distinctive style of dress and forceful battle chants - in the Ottoman era, the band would march into battle in an attempt to scare the enemy.


Veterans welcome focus on Anzac legacy


Turkey's veterans play a large part in the commemorations, much as Australian veterans do on Anzac Day.

Kadri Tanis is one such veteran; he fought in Turkey's 1974 war in Cyprus.

Mr Tan displayed the warm-hearted nature of his countrymen, most of whom welcome the large Australian presence every April 25.

"Once we were enemies, but now we are friends," he said.

"We are always happy to see you here."

Another elderly Turk, 78-year-old Turgut Kamcaz, shares the sentiment.

"I went to Australia last year and it made me so happy," he said.

Mr Kamcaz’s father was the oldest surviving Turkish Gallipoli veteran.

He wore his father's vintage Ottoman uniform to the parade, and clutched a large photograph of his father meeting Australian Gallipoli veteran Jack Ryan in 1990.

Albany Rifles
25 Apr 14,, 15:26
I do recall when I had the honor to visit Gallipoli as a guest of the Turkish Army in 1986 the Turkish Army guide, a major, spoke glowingly of the courage and dedication shown by the ANZACs. While the Turks are justifiably proud of their success, he stated he believed part of this pride was in the belief that the Turks had bested the finest troops the British Empire could throw against them...the ANZACs.

It was exceptionally poignant.

Perhaps a bit of this attitude was seen in the US Army...some of the most rousing times I had in service was when I met up with members of units who were former enemies....whether British units from the Revolutionary War/War of 1812 or National Guard units with Confederate Service heritage.