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:


31 comments on “Anzac Day

  1. This was very interesting to read..Something I knew nothing about. I wish schools (in the US) would teach more world history and stop hammering home US history which by teen years we all are aware of. Teach the students more about global history.
    Great post!


    • Thank you. I totally forgot to say that I knew nothing about Gallipoli until I visited the war museum in Canberra (Aus).

      Ironically, while I do think that Americans – huge generalisation here – don’t seem too well-informed about world affairs, my own school history syllabus only concentrated on the European element of WWII. I had no idea about the huge conflicts in the pacific, so it works both ways. Sadly.

      Perhaps I should start a history paper like your brilliant new arts one – which I love. I just really don’t have the time for it though, I’m amazed you do.


      • Oh do a world history one.. so many would benefit.. You could just post one or two articles a day.. I have the time now because I knocked off all other social networks except WP and now the newsie thing..


        • Do NOT tempt me!!!! I probably prefer blogging though, the news things mean looking for links and just posting them. I can’t resist the analysis. That’s the problem with having a history degree – you have to analyse and comment on your sources.

          I think prioritising social networks is a real issue these days. People have a fear of being out of the loop. I’ll need to go back if I need to seriously market my skills but for now I prefer the blogging community. And it is much better on WP than blogger too.

          I may add some more history posts on here though – pretty easy to tie it into Gib, I can find loads of different stuff to write :)


          • Sounds good.. and WP is so much better than blogger. I started out there about 3 yrs ago and the format, etc was sub-par.
            You could put up a “History” tab on your current blog? Look at me scheming for you :-)
            Have a good day, off to the green office I must go!!


          • Didn’t know you were also a former blogger! Five years ago it was much, much better than WP, and was for some time IMO. We all need to change though. That’s a great idea, I’ll do it. People look at tabs more than the side bar anyway, thanks L. Happy day at work.


  2. Whether it was because I went to a girls only school (slightly different to yours K), or the fact it wasn’t too long after WWII, but the wars were never mentioned.
    I notice nowadays though, far more is taught in schools on this subject.
    I have a great interest now though, and have paid visits to many places in Northern France.


    • No!! We did loads of WWII stuff for ‘O” level. Bored to tears with it, and even I thought it was horribly recent. I think there is a mental thing about it is hard to teach ‘history’ when it was only 20 or 30 years ago. History is Romans and stuff like that! I also think the recent stuff comes with age, I am far more interested in modern history than I ever was as a student of history.


  3. The film Gallipoili with Mel Gibson was good. The Dardanelles campaign was a bit of a bummer for Winston Churchill because generally speaking he gets the blame for it. Never did World Wars when I was at school (1965-72) but I understand that it is a bit of an obsession these days.


    • Not seen it. Yeah, Churchill didnt come out of it too well, but he got some glory later in another war huh?

      Interesting that, my ‘O’ level year was only a few years behind you – 75, but our history course was 1870 to present day. Present day of course stopped in the 50s or 60s :D I’m guessing it will be easier to teach now with more time elapsed. Nearly 100 years since the first world war broke out. Ancient history?


  4. Interesting post.
    For those who would like to go into the details, the Australian historian Alan Moorehead wrote a history of the event, published in 1956, titled Gallipoli. I’ve read a couple of other books of his, though not that one: popular style, very readable. Don’t know if it’s still in print, but there are undoubtedly copies available from Alibris, ABE and other second-hand agencies on the internet.


    • Now that is interesting, given free penny press’s comment right at the top. Brooke is often referred to as a ‘pre-war’ poet, as opposed to the war poets such as Owen and Sassoon. The difference in style really being the idealistic – and often jingoistic – nature of the earlier poets compared with the much harder and realistic poetry of those who were in the war for much longer. Sorry for the lecture, I like the war poetry!

      I’m also going to take up fpp’s suggestion to start a history page.


  5. This is so interesting, as well as sad. That Rupert Brookes poem is very moving. I’ve seen the monument in Gibraltar, but didn’t realise the history behind it. We also never did World War 1 at school. They seemed to rather concentrate on 1066 and all that.


    • The poem is odd. Viewing it from a current day perspective I think most would agree to focus on lives cut short before their time. Back then, I guess it was interpreted more on the lines of ‘noble sacrifice’. He’s famous for his ‘Forever England’ poem, but as this post was about ANZACs I thought that was inappropriate.

      We did just about everything at school! The only period of history that I left school without was approx 1650-1800 or so. Ask me about Stuarts, Orange, Hanoverians, anything international during that period and I am stuffed!!


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