ANZAC: A Day of Remembrance and Pride
ANZAC is a word that evokes a sense of history, heroism and honour for many Australians and New Zealanders. It stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a joint military force that fought in the First World War, especially in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. But what is the origin and significance of this acronym? And how is it commemorated today?
The Origin of ANZAC
The ANZACs were formed in Egypt in December 1914, after Australia and New Zealand joined the British Empire in declaring war on Germany in August 1914. Thousands of volunteers from both countries sailed to Egypt for training and preparation for the war. The ANZACs were initially part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, which aimed to capture the Dardanelles Strait and Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany.
The Gallipoli Campaign
The ANZACs are best remembered for their role in the Gallipoli campaign, which began on 25 April 1915. The plan was to land on the Gallipoli peninsula and advance towards Constantinople, opening a new front for the Allies and relieving pressure on the Russians. However, the plan soon turned into a disaster, as the ANZACs faced fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders, led by Mustafa Kemal (later known as AtatÃ¼rk), who would become the founder of modern Turkey.
The ANZACs landed at a small cove, which became known as Anzac Cove, surrounded by steep cliffs and ridges. They managed to establish a beachhead, but could not advance further inland. They were subjected to constant shelling, sniping and counter-attacks from the Turks, who held the high ground. The conditions were harsh, with disease, heat, flies and lack of water and supplies adding to the misery. The campaign became a stalemate, with both sides suffering heavy casualties and enduring great hardships.
After eight months of fighting, the Allies decided to evacuate Gallipoli in December 1915. The evacuation was a remarkable feat of deception and organisation, as the ANZACs managed to withdraw without alerting the Turks or suffering any losses. By then, more than 56,000 Allied soldiers had died at Gallipoli, including 8,709 Australians and 2,721 New Zealanders. The Turks had also lost around 87,000 men. The Gallipoli campaign was a failure for the Allies, but it also marked the birth of national consciousness and identity for Australia and New Zealand.
The Legacy of ANZAC
The word ANZAC became synonymous with courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice for both countries. The soldiers who fought at Gallipoli were seen as the embodiment of these qualities, and their stories were passed down through generations. The term ANZAC also came to include all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
Every year on 25 April, Australians and New Zealanders commemorate Anzac Day as a national day of remembrance and pride. Anzac Day is marked by dawn services, marches, wreath-laying ceremonies and other events across both countries and overseas. It is a day to honour not only the ANZACs of Gallipoli, but also all those who have served and suffered in the name of their countries. It is also a day to reflect on the cost of war and the value of peace.
Anzac Day is also observed by other countries that were involved in the Gallipoli campaign, such as Turkey, Britain and France. In 1985, the Turkish government officially renamed the landing site as Anzac Cove, as a gesture of respect and friendship. In 1990, AtatÃ¼rk’s words of reconciliation to the mothers of the fallen ANZACs were inscribed on a memorial at Anzac Cove: “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the