Anzac Day 2017

Tuesday, April 25, AD 2017

[19] Wilt thou give strength to the horse, or clothe his neck with neighing? [20] Wilt thou lift him up like the locusts? the glory of his nostrils is terror.

[21] He breaketh up the earth with his hoof, he pranceth boldly, he goeth forward to meet armed men. [22] He despiseth fear, he turneth not his back to the sword, [23] Above him shall the quiver rattle, the spear and shield shall glitter. [24] Chasing and raging he swalloweth the ground, neither doth he make account when the noise of the trumpet soundeth. [25] When he heareth the trumpet he saith: Ha, ha: he smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains, and the shouting of the army.

Job 39:  19-25

Today is Anzac Day, in Australia and New Zealand.   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.

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.   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.

A century ago in 1917 the Anzac troops were still fighting in the Great War.  They accomplished many remarkable feats of arms during that year, but perhaps the most remarkable was the charge of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba, a battle in which both Australian and New Zealand troops fought.  The long day of cavalry was almost over, but the mounted infantrymen of the 4th Light Horse, waving their bayonets in lieu of sabers, routed the entrenched Turks and only suffered light casualties themselves, a true military miracle.  The war horse, ridden by Anzacs, had his last moment of military glory.

 

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A Century of Anzac Days

Monday, April 25, AD 2016

Today is Anzac Day, in Australia and New Zealand.   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.

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.   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.

The last of the Allied troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli on January 8, 1916.  The first observations of Anzac Day occurred in Australia and New Zealand on April 25 of that year.  In Australia and New Zealand were largely organized by troops recovering from wounds, schoolchildren and the families of men who had fallen in the Dardanelles.  2000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through London, the papers designating them Knights of Gallipoli.  Front line units of Anzac troops in France did their best to solemnize the day.

This reaction was truly remarkable.  It is not unusual to recall fondly a battle where a nation wins.  Doing so for a campaign which was an utter failure is truly remarkable.  However, the peoples of New Zealand and Australia show wisdom in having this commemoration each year.  Wars and battles, come and go as the years pass, and the issues surrounding them become the province of historians when the veterans of the conflict are no longer in this Vale of Tears.  However, the legacy of their courage, ingenuity and good cheer in adversity remain to the descendants of those who fought.  It is an old truism that war brings out the very worst and the very best in men.  On Anzac Day two nations recall the very best that their men a century ago had to give, and that is something worth remembering.

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14 Responses to A Century of Anzac Days

  • That battle was lost – but the war was won.
    Thanks for the tribute Don.

  • indeed it was Don! Happy Anzac Day!

  • My favorite rendition of a great song about the Aussies at Gallipoli in service of the Empire:
    https://youtu.be/nDit0DyItsM

  • From an Aussie thanks for this great tribute .All of my wife’s great uncles ,on both sides ,were ANZACS-the original meant being at Gallipoli-.One of them kept photos of his time form Gallipoli through to the Armistice.Pictures inside Ameins Cathedral ,showed the devastation that civillians suffer. The bloke who wrote AND THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA,got one thing wrong-the First Australian Imperial Force was all volunteer,never conscripted.Reflected on war memorials with the words “offered the supreme sacrifice”
    Thanks once again mate .LEST WE FORGET

  • Thank you Wayne!

    “The bloke who wrote AND THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA,got one thing wrong-the First Australian Imperial Force was all volunteer,never conscripted.Reflected on war memorials with the words “offered the supreme sacrifice””

    Another things that Scottish leftist pacifist who wrote the song in 1971 is that the people of Australia and New Zealand never turned their backs on their World War I veterans. Quite the reverse.

    He also didn’t know much about the fighting at Suvla Bay. During the landings there was one Australian unit involved, a bridging unit, that built piers. God knows why the song writer did not mention instead Anzac Cove.

  • Talking about things that Eric Bogle got wrong – the Suvla Bay landing never occurred till August 1915. It was a move designed to break the deadlock at Anzac Cove and Gaba Tepe and the surrounding areas.
    My Grandfather, Don Piper landed at Gaba Tepe in the afternoon of the April 25th , with his future brother in law, Eustace ‘Nick” Nicholson. Uncle Nick was wounded and evacuated in – I think _ October, but “Pop” Piper , although lightly wounded, fought on till the evacuation in January.
    They both went on to the Somme, then Paschendale . Uncle Nick stayed there till the armistice, but Pop Piper was wounded late in 1917 and repatriated to NZ.
    I have many relatives, including my father and uncles and cousins who fought in WW I and WW II, a cousin in Korea, a couple of mates in the SAS who saw action during the Indonesian Confrontation, and in Vietnam.
    I hate these useless protesters – and if they get the chance, they would hate me too – useless bludgers !!

  • “I hate these useless protesters – and if they get the chance, they would hate me too – useless bludgers !!”

    Bravo Don!

  • I think the song expresses well the futility of warring on behalf of an empire ruling over you from half way across the globe, in a cause that did not merit one dead Australian, under the blundering leadership of a clueless aristocratic British officer class, blundering in this case leading to 187,000 casualties for zero military gain. No wonder the Irish in Dublin could sing about preferring to die for the cause of Irish freedom rather than for England’s war “at Suvla or Sud-el-Bar.” The Irish suffered particularly heavy losses in the campaign.

    (Lord Kitchener, the genius who came up with the idea, had also been notable in that other glorious Imperial war, the Boer War for burning farms and rounding up Boers into concentration camps where more than 20000 died. Ironically, he personally signed the execution warrant for Aussie Harry Morant for the offense of executing Boer prisoners, which very likely had been done under standing orders.)

    I’m sure heroics and sacrifice are always meritorious, and no nation wants to demerit its war dead, but one does not need to be a hippy leftist pacifist or whatever other sobriquet can be thrown up to remember the stupidity and unjustness of WWI, its horrible consequences to the remains of Christian order in Europe, and its contribution to the rise of Nazism and Communism.

    Some wars are more noble than others. Some wars are entirely ignoble.

  • “I think the song expresses well the futility of warring on behalf of an empire ruling over you from half way across the globe, in a cause that did not merit one dead Australian,”
    As the composition year of 1971 indicates Tom, the author, Eric Bogle, regarded it as an anti-Vietnam War song. Bogle, as his mistakes of fact indicate, knew little about the war effort of Australia in World War I. World War I was considered a just war overwhelmingly by the Anzac troops that fought it, and the populations of Australia and New Zealand at the time. That you and Bogle disagree matters not a whit in regard to that historical fact.
    “No wonder the Irish in Dublin could sing about preferring to die for the cause of Irish freedom rather than for England’s war “at Suvla or Sud-el-Bar.” The Irish suffered particularly heavy losses in the campaign.”
    Completely different historical realities Tom. Irish Catholics had for centuries sought to throw off the British Empire. The Australians and the New Zealanders, by and large, had a completely different view of the British Empire. Of course the song about the Irish Easter Rising was written by a Catholic priest after World War I in 1919. During the War, the only Irishmen who fought in it were volunteers, conscription not occurring in Ireland. When an attempt was made to implement conscription in 1918 massive protests in Catholic areas in Ireland caused the British government to back down. Some 200,000 Irish, Protestant and Catholic, fought in the War as volunteers, an astonishing amount from a population of about four million. About 49,000 of them were killed in the War, some 3400 of that total at Gallipoli, largely from the 10th Division led by General Bryan Mahon, an Irish Catholic, who was elected to the short lived Irish Senate after Irish independence.

    “Lord Kitchener, the genius who came up with the idea,”

    Kitchener was secretary of war at the time. The Gallipoli campaign was actually the project of Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. Although Kitchener came around to supporting it, he had little involvement in the campaign, Kitchener being focused on raising his New Armies to fight in France. His main involvement in the Gallipoli campaign was to recommend it be ended after an inspection tour by him in November 1915.

    “one does not need to be a hippy leftist pacifist or whatever other sobriquet can be thrown up to remember the stupidity and unjustness of WWI, its horrible consequences to the remains of Christian order in Europe, and its contribution to the rise of Nazism and Communism.”

    Prussian militarism was not bed of roses Tom as the people of Belgium and occupied France during WW I could attest. I agree with G.K. Chesterton, who opposed the Boer War, that World War I was a completely just war for the British and the Anzacs to fight. Of course my opinion, a hundred years later, matters little. From a moral standpoint what matters is that those participants at the time overwhelmingly believed they were fighting a just war.

  • Americans dumped their “British-ness” with the American War of Independence – a truly just struggle. Australia and NZ were very different. Many of the residents of NZ and Oz back then had recently emigrated to the “New and Distant Shores”, so many of our people then still considered themselves British. Even my grandmother, Kathleen Nicholson – sister of Uncle Nick – talked of England as the “home country” or “old country” – and she was born in NZ in 1894, as was her mother (Mary Ann Pickford) who was born in NZ in 1856. But they still considered themselves British.
    And so when the call went out from England, many Kiwis and Ockers answered the call – even though Oz was settled in a very different way to NZ – but still considered themselves British in a swashbuckling and even rebellious sense – a trait still strong in the Aussies today.
    Finally, although all war is evil, and the events and causes of WW I certainly fit that description, it is a bounden duty of all good men to fight against all forms of oppression – true oppression – not the crap that progressives today hand out as oppression.
    “A greater love no man has, that he give up his life for his friend”. I dare say that one abdicates their moral duty to fail to resist, and as last resort, fight – even in war – to confront evil of all forms, all the work of Satan.
    St. Michael, defend us in the hour of battle………

  • The brave Aussies fought with us against communist expansion in Vietnam. Until the current Afghanistan War, Vietnam was Australia’s longest war. From Wikipedia, “Approximately 60,000 Australians served in the war; 521 were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.” Digger combat operations ended in January 1973 (started with 30 advisers in 1962). They deployed troops in April 1975 to safely evacuate the Australian Embassy when the US Viet Congress allowed the NV to break the Paris Peace Accords and conquer South Vietnam.
    .
    Lest We Forget.
    .
    Yesterday, I saw two pics on Facebook. One, was of four young men on the beach with a surfboard in 1966. The second was of the same four (old) men on the same beach nearly 50 years later. Shortly after the first pic, the men had deployed to Vietnam with Uncle Sam’s Mischievous Children. Thank God, they came home. Many did not.

  • While it’s true that Churchill had a large and disastrous role in the *naval* portion of the Gallipoli campaign, it was Kitchener who signed off on ground operations and decided how many and which troops to commit to the invasion.

    It’s of no concern to me that the author of the song was thinking of Vietnam, which is actually an example of a noble war for a just cause.

    WWI however, was an unjust war for a ridiculous cause, and was, as Benedict XV noted, the “suicide of Europe.” That some Aussies at the time thought it was their patriotic duty to participate… well, good for them, I hope they learned a lesson about the cost of “patriotism” as subjects of the Empire, As often happens in earlier wars, domestic opposition to a war is squelched by the government and media. Vietnam was noteworthy for breaking that template. There was questioning of the war in Australia, especially around the issue of conscription.

    It is not denigrating the Aussies, who are incredible fighters and incredible allies, to point out that lots of young colonial lives were lost in the cause of an insane and needless war, which caused over 17 million deaths, ushered in Communism in Russia and Nazism in Germany, and wiped away the last remnants of Catholic continental identity, substituting it for a shabby nationalism that placed nation over religion.

    But if anyone wants to defend WWI as a glorious war for a noble cause, have at it. One can acknowledge that soldiers fight valiantly and nobly without having to endorse the cause for which they fight. I personally do that in this case, or when I acknowledge the heroism of Yankee arms during the war of Northern Aggression; others do it when they acknowledge the heroism of Confederate arms, while denouncing the Confederate cause.

  • “While it’s true that Churchill had a large and disastrous role in the *naval* portion of the Gallipoli campaign, it was Kitchener who signed off on ground operations and decided how many and which troops to commit to the invasion.”

    That is not quite correct. Churchill was the guiding force in reference to the Gallipoli campaign. Kitchener agreed to it against his better judgment under constant prodding from Churchill. Throughout the campaign Churchill constantly interfered with the land operations. Kitchener early realized that without mammoth reinforcements the whole operation was likely to be a fiasco, and he was unwilling to divert more troops to what he regarded very much as a sideshow when he desperately was building up the British Army in France. The main culprit as to the uninspired tactics used was General Hamilton, the commander on the ground.

    “It’s of no concern to me that the author of the song was thinking of Vietnam, which is actually an example of a noble war for a just cause.”

    The fact that Bogle knew bupkis about the Australian WWI war effort in regard to his anti-Vietnam War song is of significance when the song is cited in the thread to an Anzac Day post.

    “As often happens in earlier wars, domestic opposition to a war is squelched by the government and media.”

    There was remarkably little anti-war sentiment in either Australia or New Zealand during World War I Tom. This was a popularly supported war in those two nations.

    “It is not denigrating the Aussies, who are incredible fighters and incredible allies, to point out that lots of young colonial lives were lost in the cause of an insane and needless war,”

    How was it insane and needless Tom? If you had been prime minister of Great Britain in 1914 would you have simply idly stood by as Imperial Germany conquered Belgium and France and became the dominant global power? Contrary to your implication, Great Britain did not start the War. This was not a war of choice for them but rather a war brought on by German hubris in giving Austria-Hungary a blank check against Serbia. Otto von Bismarck, first German Chancellor, predicted back in 1888 that when the great European war came it would be over some “damn foolish thing in the Balkans”. Too bad his successors did not remember his words in 1914.

Anzac Day 2015

Saturday, April 25, AD 2015

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon

 

 

 

Something for the weekend, The Last Post.  One hundred years ago the Gallipoli campaign began.  Australian, New Zealand, British and French troops would slug it out for over eight months in ferocious fighting over the Dardanelles, the pathway to Constantinople and perhaps an early end to the Great War.  Although unsuccessful, the raw courage, tenacity and resourcefulness of the Australian and New Zealand troops were sources of pride for their young nations and they are remembered each April 25 on Anzac Day.

It is remembered by me each year as a salute to the courage and self sacrifice it honors.

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 Anzac 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. 

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4 Responses to Anzac Day 2015

  • This campaign reverberated with the colonials, and was mentioned in famous song of the 1916 Irish uprising, written by and Irish parish priest, Canon Charles O’Neill (excerpts:)

    “Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
    ‘Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar….

    ‘Twas England bade our wild geese go, that “small nations might be free”;
    Their lonely graves are by Suvla’s waves or the fringe of the great North Sea.
    Oh, had they died by Pearse’s side or fought with Cathal Brugha*
    Their graves we’d keep where the Fenians sleep, ‘neath the shroud of the foggy dew.”

    The campaign also inspired the moving ballad, “Waltzing Matilda.”

    My favorite version of both tunes is by the Clancys:
    The Foggy Dew:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbCHgkiAfkc&list=PL5E29B3C675D259B6&index=8

    Waltzing Matilda (truly excellent version):

  • Foggy Dew was the first music featured on the blog in the “Something for the Weekend” series back on October 11, 2008:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2008/10/11/the-foggy-dew/

  • I’ve been doing a bit of research WRT my grandfather, Don Piper in WW I. He, along with his mate and future brother-in-law, Eustace ‘Nick” Nicholson went ashore in the afternoon of 25th. April 1915 at Gaba Tepe – about a mile west down the peninsula from Anzac Cove, and apparently did not suffer as many casualties as the landings earlier in the day. Their objective was to press up the valley toward Chunuk Bair on higher ground.
    Uncle Nick was wounded fairly early in the campaign and was repatriated to England – Pop Piper also suffered a mild wound, but kept fighting, until the evacuation 8 months later. He went back to England, met up again with Uncle Nick and they both went for officer training; Uncle Nick a Sar Major, and Pop Piper a 2nd Leuie. They both went back to France and fought in the First Battle of the Somme – a bloody slaughterhouse. They both survived that, then I understand – but could be wrong – they both fought initially in the Battle of Paschendalle – Pop Piper was wounded and returned to England, then back to NZ at the end of 1917 where he married Kathleen Nicholson, Uncle Nicks younger sister in Jan 1918. They didn’t mess around – my mom was born on the 16th. October 1918 – the Black ‘flu epidemic was on then, and mum was born almost black and premature, and they though she would not survive – but she did, raised seven kids and died in 2010 aged 91 years.

  • In the words of Kipling- “Lest we forget”.

    Thank you for this Donald.

Anzac Day 1944

Friday, April 25, AD 2014

powskwai

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

  Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

  To the innermost heart of their own land they are known 

As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

       Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;  

  As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,    

To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon, To the Fallen

Today is Anzac Day.  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.

An unusual Anzac Day commemoration was held 70 years ago today.  During World War II the Japanese built a railroad between Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon, Burma.  They used the slave labor of 180,000 Asian civilians and 60,000 Allied POWs to build it.  The men worked under appalling conditions, subject to starvation rations, and beatings and casual murder by their guards.  Some 90,000 of the civilians died, along with 12,399 POWs, mostly Brits, Australians and Dutch.

On April 25, 1944 some 400 Australian POWs of the Japanese gathered to remember Anzac Day.  Their padre good naturedly chided the men, saying they only tended to show up for church service on Anzac Day!  In the midst of starvation and death they still managed to summon up the fortitude to remember the courage and endurance of the Anzacs who fought in World War I.

To Don the Kiwi, Ez and our other readers and commenters from Australia and New Zealand, my hope that they had a good Anzac Day as they saluted the courage of their ancestors.

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5 Responses to Anzac Day 1944

  • It’s amazing to me that the Japanese seem to have gotten a pass for the war atrocities. Nobody ever mentions them.

  • Thank you for your kind thoughts Don.
    As I have mentioned before, my maternal grand father and his brother in law, my uncle served on Galipoli, survived, and saw out WW1 in the trenches in France. My father’s oldest brother also served in the trenches.
    My last relative who served in WW2 as a navigator in Lancasters died last year – uncle Joe Murphy, and as his name suggests, was a wild NZ born Irishman.
    R.I.P Uncle Joe.

  • I miss the World War II generation Don. Most of the vets from that conflict that I have known are no longer with us. I treasure those who still remain that I know.

  • interesting your article re the Burma railroad.
    Back in 1959 when I was 17 and in Australia testing a vocation to the priesthood, I was at St.Clements College, Galong, NSW. There was this bishop, Bp. Quinlan CSsR who was an Irish bishop in Asia when the Japanese invaded the entire area, and he was captured.
    In about the August of 1959, there was a speach given by him in the town hall at the central NSW city of Young, about 40 miles from Galong, and the whole college went to hear him. What an amazing man – he held us and all his audience spellbound, as he talked about the deprivation, cruelty, death, and moments of humour and valour. He was a tall rangy man, no doubt his strength and rugged nature helped him to survive.
    St.Clements was a Redemptorist college – one of the priests there, a Fr. Jim Kennedy, a wiry weatherbeaten Aussie, had also been on the Burma railroad; very interesting talking to him.
    Remember that this was only 14 years since the war ended – many things were still very fresh in memories, and many Aussies in particular were very bitter still about the way the POWs were treated. It was still common to hear, the only good Jap is a dead Jap. That is now quite different, of course, thank God.

April 25, 1943: ANZAC Day and Easter

Thursday, April 25, AD 2013

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.

Laurence Binyon

In 1943 Anzac Day, April 25, fell on the same day as Easter.   Anzac Day 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.

New York City saw its first public observance of Anzac Day that year as some 300 Australian airmen and sailors marched in the Easter Parade and were cheered by the crowds lining the parade route.  Anzac Day observances in Australia and New Zealand were muted that year, due to the day falling on Easter, and so many men were away fighting in the War.

American audiences had become familiar with the courage of Anzac troops by viewing the documentary Kokoda Front Line, the video at the beginning of this post, which memorialized the struggle of Australian troops fighting in New Guinea.  Damien Parer, the cinematographer on the film won an Oscar for the film in 1943.  He would die on September 17, 1944, age 32, filming Marines in combat on Peleliu

In Melbourne, Australia on Anzac Day, the US 1st Marine Division marched through the streets in honor of the day to the cheers of their Australian hosts.

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3 Responses to April 25, 1943: ANZAC Day and Easter

  • Thanks Don.
    Just returned from my communion round. (12.30 pm. here)
    I checked Dad’s diary he kept in the war years. He has no entry on Anzac day 1943 – he was still in training camp in NZ; Dad was 31 years old, I was coming up 1 year old, and my brother who died 3 weeks ago was 2 -1/2. I checked Dad’s diary for 1944, and they were just going into action in Rimini in Italy on the Adriatic coast.
    Busy now – add later.

  • Fascinating Don. Diaries are little time capsules.

  • Mmmm…… a bit later than I intended.

    On checking dad’s diary, they were still at sea on the troopship heading toward the theatre of war in Europe.

    I am very proud of the heritage of my forebears, particularly in relation to Gallipoli.
    Donald Vincent Piper – born Fowey, Cornwall, 27th.May 1891 – my maternal grandfather. Emigrated to NZ in 1912, joined up as soon as war was declared in 1914 – First NZ Expeditionary Force, 16th. Waikato Regiment. ( I am named after him – Donald Vincent Beckett)
    He served in the first NZ force in Gallipoli. He received shrapnel wounds in one leg, but because they were not painful, stayed on. Because he was a Cornishman, he was a tunneller. I recall as a lad, him telling me in his Cornish brogue, of how they would tunnel under “the Turk”, set explosives, set the fuse, and go like hell.
    He also served in the Trenches in France, and was sent home to NZ in 1917 after he had been wounded a second time. Entered duty as a private, returned as a 2nd Leutenant. He married Kathleen Rose Nicholson, uncle Nick’s sister.
    Eustace Charles (Nick or Eusty)) Nicholson – born NZ 1887. With his younger brother Phillip Charles Nicholson, they signed up when war was declared in 1914 and seved at Gallipoli. Uncle Nick was wounded and went to England for convalescence. He met his future wife, Charlotte Jeanne Dahlem, from Paris France, whom he later married in England and took his bride back to NZ. Uncle Nick returned to active duty in France and saw the was out, as a Sergeant Major.
    Uncle Phil Nicholson served in France as well, had a charmed life – I attended his funeral in Auckland in 1974.
    We have a Nicholson family anthology compiled by our cousins who live in Tacoma, Wa. Through the Nicholson Family, I have many relatives in the USA, originating here in NZ in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s but sadlt have lost a large degree of contact, with the exception of Bill and Carland Nicholson of Tacoma Wa.. with whom we have occasional contact.

Anzac Day 2012

Wednesday, April 25, AD 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.

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4 Responses to Anzac Day 2012

  • Thanks for this Don.
    Each year this day comes round I recall with some emotion my grandfather Don Piper who was among the first ashore at Anzac cove this day 97 yeaqrs ago, to be joined a few weeks later by his future brother in law, my great uncle Eustace Nicholson. Pop Piper was a Cornishman of Scottish descent – his family, pipers of the McDonald clan, were cleared off their highland lands in the 17th.century clearances – and he was told, that all cornishmen are miners and tunnellers, so he was a tunneller – like it or not. He had come to NZ at 22 years old in 1912.
    When I was a boy I used to listen with bated breath, how he would describe, in his Cornish accent, how they would tunnel under “the Turk”, fill the tunnel with high expolsive, set the fuse a get outa there. He survived Galipoli – as did uncle Eustie, and they both ended up in the trenches in France – Pop Piper gained the rank of Leutenant, and Uncle Eustie a Seargent Major. He was wounded and repatriated in 1917, courted and married Eustice’s sister Katherine Rose Nicholson. My mum was born on the 19th October 1918.
    My dad’s oldest brother George also went to the trenches in France and was gassed, and repatriated in 1918. Dad was only 3 years old when the Galipoli landing occurred.
    I must say( I hate to admit it 😉 ) that one of the very very very few things that the Aussies do better than us 😉 in the way they celebrate Anzac Day. We in NZ do a great job of commerating it, but the Aussies CELEBRATE it, as I well recall from my 10 year in Oz back in the 80’s, and here are a couple of links to some sombre but stirring songs from Australia.
    The Pogues – And the band played Waltzing Matilda:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZqN1glz4JY

    and Eric Bogel – The Gift of Years:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Qcn8INbBaQ

    A song from my era in Oz by the then very popular group, Redgum, which brings in the Vietnam era:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAwvH8FbdjM

    Lest We Forget.
    Thanks, and God Bless.

  • We owe your relatives who served Don a debt that can never be repaid. Faith, Love, Courage and Joy, prime elements in a life well led, are all well represented on Anzac Day.

    I think you will appreciate this quote about the 2nd New Zealand division written by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel:

    “This division, with which we had already become acquainted back in 1941-1942, was among the elite of the British Army and I should have been very much happier if it had been safely tucked away in our prison camps instead of still facing us.”

  • There is a wonderful memorial at Anzac Cove on the Galipoli Peninsular, with a tribute written by Kemal Ataturk – a beautiful gesture of forgiveness.

    Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives…..
    you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
    Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
    You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears;
    Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
    After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

    Ataturk – 1934

  • Thirty years ago NZ expelled the Argentine ambassador (who must have been singularly useless as he didn’t speak English), offered naval support (HMNZS Canterbury) and during the conflict supplied valuable communications support and elint. Kiwis were certainly flavour of the month then! Margaret Thatcher, never one to forget a favour, responded by fighting NZ’s corner in Europe regarding lamb and butter quotas.

    The UK also had considerable support from the USA, France and Chile, but the extent of this did not emerge until after the conflict.

    The ANZAC contribution in both world wars was remarkable given the small population of both countries. Americans often forget that when Englishmen of previous generations referred to ‘the Empire’ they were not primarily referring to their colonial subjects, but rather of the self-governing white ‘dominions’ – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Anzac Day

Sunday, April 25, AD 2010

Today is Anzac Day, in Australia and New Zealand.  We who lag a day behind will observe it on Monday.  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.

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.   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.

Don the kiwi, one of our commenters, has allowed me to share with our readers some of the experiences of his family in World War I.  Out of a population of less than a million, New Zealand had 18,000 soldiers and sailors killed in World War I, which would be the equivalent of over five million US dead in a war today.  10 percent of the New Zealand population served in World War I, which would be the equivalent of 30 million Americans serving in a war.

I have several relatives who were involved in WW1, which always spurs my interest in the various conflicts around the world that our little group of islands deep in the South Pacific were voluntarily and influentially involved in.

My maternal grandfather, Don Piper, born in Cornwall in 1890, emigrated to NZ in 1910. He volunteered in the army at the outbreak of war in 1914, and was in the first wave of landings on Gallipoli peninsular. He survived the whole period of that phase of the war and hated the defeat they suffered. He spent the next year or two in the trenches in France, and after being wounded was repatriated – after a period of convalescence in England – to NZ. He entered the army as a private, and came home a 2nd Lieutenant.

During this time, he met his future brother in law, my great uncle Eustace Nicholson who was also on Gallipoli. He also survived this mayhem, and continued his service in action on the Western front – then a Sergeant Major, and on leave in England, met his future wife – a Parissienne who was working as an au pair in England. After the war, he left NZ, went back to England, sought her out, and married her in Paris, then came back to NZ. I have very fond memories of my dear Aunt Jeanne – during my high school days I would visit her and practice my French with her.

 

My dad’s oldest brother, Uncle George, also served in WW 1. He missed Gallipoli, but served for a couple of years in the trenches in France. In 1917 he was gassed, and returned to NZ as an invalid, having only one lung – the gas having destroyed the other. He was sent to a convalescent home just out of Auckland to fully recover. 

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9 Responses to Anzac Day

  • Donald,

    Very nice post. Cheers and God bless to our Aussie and Kiwi compatriots.

  • Thank you Dminor!

  • Thanks for this excellent post Don.
    When I was a young boy, I was fascinated by the stories Pop Piper would tell us. I recall one such story listeneing spellbound as he recounted, in his soft Cornish accent, of his appointed task on Gallipoli.
    His officer said, “Piper, you’re a Cornishman aren’t you?”
    “Yes sir” replied grandad.
    “Well Piper, Cornwall has a lot of mines, so you can be a tunneller.” Now Pop Piper never worked in a mine – his family were seafarers, from the port of Fowey on the Cornish coast. Nevertheless, he was a tunneller. He told how they would dig tunnels under the Turkish lines. “Then, when you could hear the Turk above us talking away, we would stuff the tunnell full of explosives, set the fuse, and get out of there real quick.”
    Pop Piper had a bad heart, caused by the stress and poor diet during the 8 months on Galipoli and a couple of years in the trenches. He died in 1958, a week before his 68th.Birthday. My family always said I am very like him. I am 68 next month – I hope history doesn’t repeat itself 😉
    As you rightly observed Don, its Monday here, and just gone 8 am., so I’ve gotta get off to work.
    Will call back later.
    Regards to all.
    Don Beckett.

    They shall not grow old as we grow old.
    Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the setting of the sun, and in the morning,
    We Will Remember Them.

  • Thank you Don for allowing me to use your family history in this post. Such remarkable stories should never be forgotten.

  • I just posted this erroneously on *last* year’s ANZAC day post, so I bring part of it forward (with one addtion):

    I remember reading that “we are the Anzac army’ was a marching song, sung to the tune of Aurelia (which to those unfamiliar with that name, is same tune as the famous anglican hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”)

    It’s easy to blame Gallipoli on WC, and it all but ruined his political career for a generation, but the whole British administration backed the plan … Kichener, Fisher, Asquith … that is, until they didn’t or got cold feet.

    Too many Anzacs …and Britsh … soldiers and sailors paid with their lives for inept combined tactics. W.C., however, was not responsible for Kichner’s unwillingness to combine landings with the naval assault on the Narrows, nor for the Navy’s unwillingness to press the battleship attack against the Narrows batteries when victory was at hand, nor the abysmal British generalship when the landings finally did take place – particularly at Sulva Bay.

    Sic transit mundi.

    Had it worked, the Ottoman Empire would have been out of the war … and likely no Bolshevik revolution, no Arabian revolt, and, perhaps, no World War 2. Who knows. The sacrifice of those who died on that terrible peninsula, who were maimed or wounded, though, is honored by all who admire duty, loyalty and courage. May they rest in peace and honor.

    O happy ones and holy!
    Lord, give us grace that we
    Like them, the meek and lowly,
    On high may dwell with Thee:
    There, past the border mountains,
    Where in sweet vales the Bride
    With Thee by living fountains
    Forever shall abide!

  • In regard to the Anzac song tryptic67, you are quite correct that it was sung to the tune of The Church’s One Foundation. There were a lot of variants and this one was popular with the British infantry:

    We are Fred Karno’s army,
    Fred Karno’s infantry;
    We cannot fight, we cannot shoot,
    So what damn good are we?
    But when we get to Berlin
    The Kaiser he will say
    Hoch, hoch, mein Gott
    Vot a bloody fine lot
    Fred Karno’s infantry

    Fred Karno was of course a British comedian of the time, the traditional self-deprecating humor of the British Tommies being one of their many fine features.

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/27/messages/792.html

  • The reference to the six bob a day in the Anzac song was the amount that the private soldiers were paid. The Anzac troops often referred to themselves as six bob a day tourists.

  • Fascinating stuff, Donald – thank you for sharing it.

    I saw the movie “Gallipoli” as a young teen – what a devastating ending.

    One of the best treatmnets of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign (at least that I’ve seen) is in “Castles of Steel” by Robert K. Massie – the sequel, if you will, to one his real masterpieces: “Dreadnought”.

  • I have Castles of Steel in my library, one of many, many books I have not gotten around to yet, alas. Gallipoli was one missed opportunity after another by the Allies. The courage of the troops, and the courage was amazing, could not redeem the blunders of the generals and admirals. The idea of forcing the Dardanelles was sound; the execution of the idea pathetic.