anzac day

What is ANZAC DAY?

At dawn on the 25th April 1915, the first of around 20,000 young Australian and New Zealand men landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula, near the site of the ancient city of Troy.  Instead of the expected flat beach, they found themselves faced with steep cliffs and an entrenched, well armed and determined enemy lying in wait.

Those that survived the horrific carnage on arrival faced over 8 months on the beaches and cliffs of Gallipoli.  Conditions were appalling  and they were under almost constant bombardment.   Both sides pinned down the other with sniper fire and shelling, and quickly dug kilometres of trenches for shelter. These surviving “diggers”, as the Australians called themselves, hung on throughout the ensuing stalemate until they were evacuated on 20th December, 1915. 

In these 8 months of World War One alone,  8,141 had died and more than 18,000 had been wounded.

Unlike the European armies of that time, the “1st Australian Division” and the composite “New Zealand and Australian Division” were comprised entirely of volunteers, proudly heeding duty’s call. The spirit of those first Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) has now become the stuff of legend; the mateship, sacrifice, courage and incredibly the sense of humour that endured amongst death and despair on a scale previously unknown to their fledgling nations.

The 25th of April was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916, and the first official Dawn Service (and recognised public holiday) was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1923.   Whilst it originally started out for the survivors of Gallipoli only, it has gradually grown to encompass all those who have lost their lives in service to their country, in all wars. Australians and New Zealanders around the world commemorate ANZAC day with services and marches, and remember all those who fought, endured, suffered and died for their countries and for our freedom.

2014-2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of World War 1, with 2015 marking the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. 

For more information on Australia’s military history, please visit the website of The Australian War Memorial.

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