Anzac Day 2012
The Australian divisions and the New Zealanders had become what they were to remain for the rest of the war – the spearhead of the British Army.
John Terraine, British Military Historian
Today is Anzac Day, a date which has huge meaning for the people of New Zealand and Australia. At the beginning of World War I both nations raised great volunteer armies, making up a large percentage of their adult male populations, and sent them off to fight. In the bitter Gallipoli Campaign, the attempt by the Allies to take the Dardanelles from the Turks, conquer Constantinople and open up a supply line to Russia via the Black Sea, the Anzac troops distinguished themselves by their stubborn courage and resourcefulness. Although the Gallipoli campaign ultimately ended in failure, the Australian and New Zealand troops came out it with a reputation as hard fighters, shock troops, a reputation they earned time and again on battlefields throughout World Wars I and II. American veterans I have talked to who fought with Australian and New Zealand troops have repeatedly told me that they could ask for no finer fighters to have at their side in a battle.
The video at the beginning of this post is entitled Heroes of Gallipoli and is made up of the only film footage taken during the campaign. It was restored a few years ago by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. It is a fitting tribute to very brave men, and the nations who gave them birth.
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.