ANZAC – what it really means to an aussie/kiwi…

As an Aussie/Kiwi ANZAC means much more than just the letters or the words they represent.

Australian New Zealand Army Corps.

To me those words represent a special breed.

On the 25th of April each year we commemorate one of the saddest days in Australia’s and New Zealand’s combined history.

The landing at the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

The objective was to capture the Dardanelles and Constantinople, opening the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea for the allied navies.

An ill conceived idea of Winston Churchill’s, the landing at Gallipoli began to go wrong from the start, as the landing parties arrived at the wrong beach. Had they however, landed at the correct point it would have been a bigger massacre as the Ottoman Empire was ready and waiting with their gatling guns.

The Ottoman forces were led by Mustafa Kemal (also known as Atatürk). The bold plan became an eight month stalemate. Losses were enormous on both sides. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders.

In 1916 the first ANZAC Day was held and it has since gone on to include in the commemorations all service personnel and to honour those who have died in all military operations.

So what is ANZAC Day really ?

Commemorative services are held at dawn, the time of the Gallipoli landing, at war memorials in cities and towns across both countries. The first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927.

Dawn ceremonies are also held at the sites of some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s most recognised battles and greatest losses. Places such as Villers-Bretonneux in France and Gallipoli in Turkey.

One tradition of Anzac Day is the ‘gunfire breakfast’ (coffee with rum added) which occurs shortly after many dawn ceremonies. It recalls the breakfast that was eaten by many soldiers before facing battle. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen meet and join in marches through the major cities and many smaller centres.

I will see many wearing the red poppy on ANZAC Day…it is the flower of remembrance.

It has been linked with death on the battlefield since WWI.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in his poem ‘In Flanders fields’ linked poppies and death perhaps forever.

Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

****************************************************

***

I will leave you with a tribute of my own to those who bravely fight for us in war.

A Piece of War…an excerpt

That quiet I was telling you about, it got to one of the boys; kid was just seventeen, pimple-faced, shouldn’t have been here, he lost it. Happens every now and again. Jumped up out of the trench and started running towards the Krauts’ side.

“C’mon you bastards,” he was screaming, waving his arms around. “Shoot me, you bloody cowards,” I think he said. Threw his gun away, tore open his uniform. “C’mon then, shoot me,” he kept yelling, running about. As much as we wanted to drag the silly bugger back, it was too dangerous. Any moment they could start shooting. Well, he kept it up for more than an hour. Could barely make a sound by the end there. Nothing happened. Not one shot.

Would have been easy. Thought about doing it myself, the kid was really spooking some of the lads, but nothing. Eventually he just fell to his knees crying, right there in the middle of no-man’s land. I wish I could explain what it felt like, seeing him out there in the moonlight, his crying the only sound for miles. Does it make any sense when I say he became all of you? His sound was the sound of home. I’ve never felt so heavy.

To read the whole story…

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30 thoughts on “ANZAC – what it really means to an aussie/kiwi…”

  1. Dear Jo, my heart, my prayers with you all… Anzac Day is important for us too in here.
    In Turkey the name “ANZAC Cove” was officially recognised by the Turkish government on Anzac Day in 1985. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington:

    “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.”

    Thank you, with my love, nia

    1. Dear Nia,
      Thank you for your lovely words. I can imagine how important it is to you in Turkey…you lost more than any of us. Ataturk was an amazing man. Brilliant and you should be proud of him. The sad part for our boys is that he was on the other side.
      That is such a powerful speech…and in truth has left me with tears…because it is wonderful to know that there is such compassion.
      When next I go to Wellington…I shall look for his words on the memorial.

    1. Thanks Gilly. :)
      I think these days it means more to me because my son is now in the Defence Forces…and while he is in no danger (except from the Naval propensity to – well you know…hehehe) it still makes you aware of the lives that have been lost…and those that have had to deal with being left behind.

  2. A very poignant post Jo, very well written.
    We just got back from the dawn service in our area and there wasn’t a dry eye – it’s such a moving service. It seems that each year, more people turn up to remember and pay their respects and it’s heart warming to see young ones and even teenagers taking an interest.
    I took the liberty of re-blogging it. Thank you.

    1. It does seem to be better attended these days…for a while the numbers were diminishing but I love that more young people are recognising these contributions to their freedom and way of life.

  3. WOW … I never knew any of this. I had heard of ANZAC Day, but never really knew the details. This was so interesting and informative. Thanks for posting this. :D

    1. I think there are a lot of people who know nothing of Australia and New Zealand and their histories regarding the World Wars. So glad you found it helped you learn and understand.

  4. Thanks for the information Jo. Someone mentioned it on my blog and I hadn’t heard of it. It is important to remember these days…and hopefully we will keep learning from this experience.

  5. I remember watching a film called ‘Gallipoli’ with
    Mel Gibson in the cast, and I remember that the
    portrayal of this one offered a glimpse into the
    realities of Cold and Bloody War…

    A great posting Jo

    Androgoth XXx

  6. I posted this comment on Barb’s reblog before I realised it was a reblog and I now realise she also explanded with her own words.
    “Thank you for your lovely words, Barb. As the daughter of an ANZAC, much appreciated.”

    I am just having a very confused day, Jo, so forgive me. Lovely post.

  7. My thoughts and prayers for the heroes who lost their lives on this unforgettable day. Events like this should always be remembered not only to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice but as a reminder for the new generation of what war does and its effects on people and the world in general. Let us remember and honor always the men and women who fights for our freedom and the families they left behind so we can sleep peacefully at night. Thanks for sharing it with us. Have a blessed day…

    1. They should be remembered and it is pleasing to see that lately more and more of our young people are getting involved in the day. For a time it looked grim as many of the veterans died and numbers at the services were shrinking. That trend has changed and the numbers are growing…thankfully.

  8. Heavy post but a beautiful and moving tribute. Reminds me of Memorial Day here in the States. I didn’t know any of this history, so thank you for sharing it with us. I especially liked your tribute…I know that there were times like that, when either side could have had an easy kill but didn’t go for it…makes you think long and hard about how all of the soldiers there didn’t want to be there, didn’t like the idea of killing and just wanted to be back home. After all, most of them were only human…saw the movie “War Horse” recently, and it was pretty good. Also a reminder that not all the soldiers in the wars were human. Anyway, thanks for the history lesson and thought-provoking post. And thanks to your son for serving.

    1. We also have a Memorial Day. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month where we all take a couple of minutes to stop and be silent. ANZAC Day is more than that though I think to those involved in Gallipoli…the Kiwis, the Aussies, the Turkish, and the British. It was such a terrible waste of human life and potential…for both sides. I haven’t been game enough to watch Warhorse. I know the tears will be flowing and I have so much trouble watching animals getting hurt/killed…even when it isn’t real real.
      ;)

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