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Thread: An ANZAC in my street - 100 years ago today

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Same question to OOE. What made WW1 your fight ? another far flung outpost out of range.

    if you're newly independent it seems not to have sunk in yet.

    The brits had a tough time arm twisting the americans into it and they only made an entrance in 1917.
    Precisely. There was a heavy dose of romanticism and patriotism involved. The last war Canada fought before then was the Boer War. The Americans fought their own Civil War. They were touched by the horrors of war. We were not. The Boer War was stories of gallantry, maneouver, a great big chess game between warriors of a field of honour. Never mind the conentration camp stuff that was largely ignored in the Colonies. Newly borned regiments from the Boer War, the Lord Strathcona's Horse just naming one, were celebrated in the towns they were raised.

    When WWI came around, the young men thought it was our turn ... until the casualties came in. Prince Edward Island, still a colony back then and still had not joined Canada, lost their entire contribution of 1 regiment in a single day. A 1000 men gone, from a total male population (age 18-45) of less than 20,000.

  2. #17
    Dirty Kiwi Senior Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Galipoli is a pilgrimage site for Aussies & Kiwis. yet you served in many wars after.

    So why does WW1 dominate everything ?

    Does it mark the start of deployments abroad as well as celebrate the sacrifices of all since.
    As has already been pointed out there's a great deal of mythology associated with Gallipoli that has developed both in Australia and New Zealand. BF is far better at elucidating Australia's point of view than I, I'll just point out the attitudes are becoming significantly different as time goes on, reflecting our countries cultural outlook. In gross generalisations, the Aussies are more extrovert, Kiwis are more introvert.

    For New Zealand Gallipoli wasn't nearly as bad as the subsequent Somme, Messines and Passchendaele offensives. It was however the first meat grinder, and thus is listed first in the histories of that war. To be cynical, when studying history, the vast majority of my people don't get past that first chapter and so think it's the major action.

    I'm extremely fortunate that my family came into a collection of postcards sent by numerous soldiers from WWI, and it's fascinating reading. The censorship kicked in later on so that for the last 2 years the postcards are simply forms where you could fill in the basics. They would read Dear "blank" I am well/wounded, our supplies and moral is good, thank you for the parcels. Signed "blank".
    The Gallipoli and early European ones however are a different kettle of fish and cover the whole milieu of human emotion. One of the striking things in this context is that they don't talk of being anything other than British. There's no thought of some burgeoning independence, of being a separate nation other than Empire. Britain is still referred to as home, the other Empire troops are simply that, no different than battalions from other parts of New Zealand. The Otago battalions viewed the Yorkshire or Sydney battalions as no different than the Wellington one.

    The significance of Gallipoli, and be aware this is simply personal observation, has grown from two factors. Firstly our historians/politicians wishing to define a single point of time where NZ came of age. While this may have some aspect of truth in it in a wider context I see no evidence that it was viewed this way at the time or throughout the period leading up to the 1990's.
    As referred to above, the mindset of the people of the time was still very much of Empire, not of a new nation. Right up until the seventies I could still find plenty of older people happy to refer to Britain as the 'home country', though there is a subtle but important difference between the original 'home' and this 'home country'.
    One of our historians, Michael King, was also dismissive of this single point of time definition. He saw it, as do I, as a gradual change of attitude. His description was that waves of settlers cease to become colonists and become natives when they stop seeing the country as a resource to be exploited and start seeing it as a treasure to be protected. This is a gradual process and is still ongoing, as it always will be unless we become truly isolated through calamity. The idea of Gallipoli becoming the moment when we became a nation is farcical to me, but is promoted as a kindergarten concept, an easy explanation for propaganda purposes.
    The second point of significance is that during the seventies and eighties Gallipoli became the place to be seen by backpackers from Aus & NZ in just the same way as Marrakesh and various parts of India became the go-to places for the hippy movement during the sixties. The stories from my contemporaries was that it was the whole Turkish experience, culminating in what was a two or three day booze-up and semi-orgy at Gallipoli as part of a backpacking 'trip'. Only when the international 'noise' this created was sufficient for the NZ and Aus govts to take notice was it reined in and made a formal occasion, in conjunction with the Turkish authorities.
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  3. #18
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    ok, so its the scale of the casualties that makes WW1 stand out, more than the rest put together.
    Not really. Its the timing, the scale, AND the casualties. Something like 16,000 Australians served in the Boer War (both as independent colonies and a national force). More than that signed up in the first few weeks of WW1 and half that number died in 1915. It was a combination of factors.

    The next question is how did it become your war ? why should so many volunteer to sign up. When i watched the movie of the same name there was a sense of romanticism followed by a cruel awakening on the battle field.

    what was the threat to Australia. WW1 was more a euro war that sucked in people from colonies. I was less of a 'world' war than the one that followed.
    I think I mentioned this, but we considered ourselves 'British'. We hadn't fought a war to break free of Britain, we had been granted independence by an act of the British Parliament after it was considered we were capable of self government. To use a metaphor, we didn't have a fight and run away from an evil stepfather, we left home after reaching adulthood but still loved our parents.

    We weren't just British Allies, our defence forces were effectively part of Britain's. Our navy - the largest part of our standing defence forces - was basically a squadron of the Royal Navy. As a distant and underpopulated British land we felt especially vulnerable to other European powers. There are forts at major Australian ports from the C19th built in fear that Tsarist Russia might invade (yes, I know, but it was how they thought). There were German colonies just to our north. We relied on Britain to keep our vital trade links to Europe safe. We also didn't have our own independent foreign policy. We more or less ran everything big & official through the Foreign Office until WW2. If Britain was at war so were we. No question. There was never any thought that we wouldn't go. It was our duty.

    The movie conveys that 'adventure' idea, but that was only part of the reason people volunteered. Remember that virtually everyone who fought in that war had been born in a British colony or often in Britain itself. Indeed, John Simpson Kirkpatrick, our most famous soldier, was an Irishman who jumped ship in Sydney. Not even an Australian citizen, but a British subject, so able to join our military forces.

    i visited Gallipoli in '89 with a bunch of Aussies & Kiwis. The company was called Top Deck. They're still around. So it did matter even then.
    Yes, but not nearly as much fuss as now. As I said ANZAC Day has been a national holiday since WW1, and it marks the first landing at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915.


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