“Those heroes that 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 now here in this country of ours . . . You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the 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.”
- Turkish President and Gallipoli veteran, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1934)
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, known nowadays as ANZACs, joined the British allied forces in Europe to fight in WWI. They landed at Gallipoli, gateway to the Ottoman Empire with the objective of capturing the capital city of Constantinople and providing access to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. They arrived in Gallipoli on April 25th, met heavy resistance and suffered major casualties in their 8-month long, unsuccessful campaign.
Australian values were forged in the trenches of Gallipoli.
During the 1920s, ANZAC Day became established as a National Day of Commemoration for the 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders who died during the war. At almost 65%, the Australian casualty rate (proportionate to total embarkations) was among the highest of the war.
The Gallipoli campaign featured heavy combat . . . ferocious bomb and bayonet attacks. The Australian, New Zealand, Irish and English troops fought gallantly and, with grim determination, held their own against Johnny Turk.
Over time, ANZAC Day has become a national Day of Remembrance to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”
It is very similar to Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day in the USA, or Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth, and the associated ceremonies are just as moving.