Anzac Day

 

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Today is Anzac Day.  It is remembered by me each year as a salute to the courage and self sacrifice it honors.  It commemorates the landing of the New Zealand and Australian troops at Gallipoli in World War I.  Although the effort to take the Dardanelles was ultimately unsuccessful, the Anzac troops demonstrated great courage and tenacity, and the ordeal the troops underwent in this campaign has a vast meaning to the peoples of New Zealand and Australia.

At the beginning of the war the New Zealand and Australian citizen armies, illustrating the robust humor of both nations,  engaged in self-mockery best illustrated by this poem:

We are the ANZAC Army

The A.N.Z.A.C.

We cannot shoot, we don’t salute

What bloody good are we ?

And when we get to Ber – Lin

The Kaiser, he will say

Hoch, Hoch, Mein Gott !

What a bloody odd lot

to get six bob a day.

The Azac troops referred to themselves as “six bob a day tourists”.  By the end of World War I no one was laughing at the Anzacs.  At the end of the war a quarter of the military age male population of New Zealand had been killed or wounded and Australia paid a similarly high price.  Widely regarded as among the elite shock troops of the Allies, they had fought with distinction throughout the war, and added to their reputation during World War II.  Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the German Desert Fox, rated the New Zealanders as the finest troops he ever saw.   American veterans I have spoken to who have fought beside Australian and New Zealand units have uniformly told me that they could choose no better troops to have on their flank in a battle.

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So to commenter Don the Kiwi and his mates:  I hope you had a fine Anzac Day, full of fond remembrance for those who led the way before us!

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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5 Responses to Anzac Day

  • Donald, there are times I disagree with you about… well lots of things. But I will never disagree when you choose to salute brave men (and women) who choose to put their lives on the line in service of a cause they believe in. Whether it was the ANZAC troops in WWI or the current troops fighting for America and her allies in Afghanistan, these are brave men who often receive far less than they deserve.

  • Thank you very much for this tribute Don. It is always very moving on ANZAC day when we recall the sacrifices of our men and women in those dark days. Many of my relatives – father, grandfather, uncles, cousins etc served in both world wars, Korea, and had close friends in Vietnam, and now a good friend of mine has her son serving with the NZSAS in Afghanistan

    I had an early start this morning and have only just got home. Your first videa clip shows some scenes of Anzacs – mainly Aussies I have to say. In WW1 & 2, our troop wore different uniform hats – the Aussies wear the slouch hat, while the Kiwis wear the “lemon squeezers”; although in the Boer war, Kiwi troops wore a slouch hat then because the troops were mainly mounted cavalry.
    Our own Hayley Westernra is doing the singing. She hails from Cristchurch, the scene of the recent devastating earthquake, although nowadays she spends most of her time in UK. She has a beautiful voice – has been a rising star since her early teens back in 2003.
    The only blot on the second video clip is the sour faced woman to the right of the queen at about 1.30 into the clip. That is our ex prime minister, Helen Clark, who is now with the UN. Her left wing liberal Govt. did much harm to NZ from 1999 to 2008 both morally and economically, and was responsible for scrapping our Fighter attack wing of our Air Force. Our few hundred fighter pilots and technicians were eagerly snapped up by Australia, UK, and the USA. Oh well………
    So yes, I had a reasonably quiet day yesterday – 8 am. Mass to pray for our old diggers (troops – slang in Oz and NZ) a visit to a close friend who is dying of cancer, then a couple of quiet beers with some friends.
    Thank you once again for your kind tribute, and may God bless you and all our friends in America.

  • “The only blot on the second video clip is the sour faced woman to the right of the queen at about 1.30 into the clip. That is our ex prime minister, Helen Clark, who is now with the UN. Her left wing liberal Govt. did much harm to NZ from 1999 to 2008 both morally and economically, and was responsible for scrapping our Fighter attack wing of our Air Force. Our few hundred fighter pilots and technicians were eagerly snapped up by Australia, UK, and the USA. Oh well………”

    Idiot politicians are like bad weather Don, a sad fact of life!

    “Many of my relatives – father, grandfather, uncles, cousins etc served in both world wars, Korea, and had close friends in Vietnam, and now a good friend of mine has her son serving with the NZSAS in Afghanistan”

    Your family is like mine Don. McClareys have served in all of America’s wars going back at least to the French and Indian War. Having that sort of family connection reminds one of the price that is paid to keep a free nation free.

    “Thank you once again for your kind tribute, and may God bless you and all our friends in America.”

    May God bless and keep you Don and all of America’s friends in the beautiful land of New Zealand.

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