Anzac Day

It has to be said we didn’t exactly do our best by our colonial friends in Australia and New Zealand at Gallipoli.

Nor incidentally, did we do ourselves any favours. Depending on which sources you read, the British had 21,000 casualties, the French 10,000, somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 from Australia, nearly 3,000 from NZ, 1,300 from British India, and 49 from Newfoundland. The Ottoman Empire suffered nearly 87,000 deaths. Those figures don’t include wounded soldiers or the ones who became sick because of the appalling sanitary conditions.

Those are wiki figures, so accuracy is not remotely guaranteed, but at least they give an idea of the scale of deaths.

The intention of the Gallipoli campaign was to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula and then crack on to take Constantinople and push the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War, as they were German Allies. It failed.

On 25 April, 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed at Gallipoli. It was the first major military action fought by Australian and NZ forces in the First World War. From 1916 the two countries have commemorated those who died, on Anzac Day, and as with many other countries whose memorial days started off with the First World War, it has now become a day to remember all those who have died in wars.

I thought I’d see if I could find any links with Anzacs and Gib, as you would imagine Anzacs had to go past/via Gib to get to Gallipoli and the Dardanelles.

Here from the Museum Victoria, is a book by George Simpson Millar. He was in the 5th Australian Light Horse, Gallipoli 1915-1917.

Album of photographs believed to have been taken by Australian serviceman George Simpson Millar, 5th Australian Light House, Gallipoli, 1915. Contains 103 small black and white photographs.

The photographs, apparently sent back home, depict life in Gallipoli 1915, as well as war ships, the Suez Canal, Gibraltar, a hospital ship, trenches, men massing for battle, a soldier reading a letter, soldiers at rest, cutting hair, etc., tunnels, and individual soldiers, graves and shell holes. A few photographs of France are included.

He returned to Australia in January 1919.

Link to full post here.

From the Argus, again in Victoria, 12 November 1915, I found this tiny snippet.

Cable messages for soldiers

The following arrangements have been adopted as regards cable messages to and from Australian soldiers in Gibraltar – to apply to the weekend system and via Eastern route only:-
a) Messages will be accepted from the public in Australia for Australian soldiers in Gibraltar without prepayment of reply that may be desired. “Reply RTP” to appear in text, and be counted as one word.
b) Australian soldiers in Gibraltar may also initiate collect messages to persons in Australia not exceeding 12 words in length.

And from Angela Woollacott’s book ‘To Try Her Fortune in London: Australian Women, Colonialism, and Modernity':

“..letter and diary writers commented, for example, on the vivid impression that Gibraltar, signifying British naval power in the Mediterranean and imperial strength more generally, made on them, whether they sailed by it or stopped there.”

The English poet Rupert Brooke died shortly before the invasion of Gallipoli. He was serving with the Royal Naval Division and a septic mosquito bite led to his death from blood poisoning.

His war poetry is not my taste as I think it is somewhat idealistic. Had he lived longer perhaps his poetry may have changed. However, it happens to be appropriate to the geography of this post. He is buried on the Greek isle of Skyros, where there is no doubt one corner that is forever England.

III. The Dead

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

Blow, bugles, blow! They brought us, for our dearth,
Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.
Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.

The War Memorial in Gibraltar at the ‘British Steps’.

Some other ANZAC links: