April 25th, 2007

Random Violin

Lest We Forget

Today is ANZAC Day which marks the anniversary of the first significant military action fought by Australian and New Zealand troops in the First World War when an allied expedition set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea.

Landing on April 25, 1915, with the intention of capturing Constantinople (now Istanbul), the invading forces were bogged down on the beach and suffered heavy losses.

Australia lost 8700 men at Gallipoli. Over time the blood sacrifice of the Diggers came to be seen as something of an initiation ceremony for the birth of an independent Australia. In the words of official historian Charles Bean, Gallipoli came to stand for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance.

The First World War remains the most costly conflict Australia has participated in. From a population of less than five million, 300,000 men enlisted and more than 60,000 were killed.

It was in the trenches of France that most died, participating in near-suicidal attacks on heavily fortified German positions. In one day in July 1916, the Australian Imperial Force suffered 5533 casualties at Fromelles, on the Somme. In that year alone, 42,270 Diggers were killed or wounded on the Western Front.

"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."
from For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon
  • Current Music
    there's me in me slouch hat, with me SLR and greens, God help me, I was only 19.