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ANZAC Day 2012

Today is ANZAC Day, the Australia-New Zealand equivalent to Memorial Day.

New Zealand Website
on ANZAC Day.

The Australian Equivalent.

The Gallipoli Campaign was the brainchild of Winston Churchill, an attempt to force the Dardanelles and reach the Black Sea, freeing up the Russian Black Sea Fleet and opening up new routes of supply and a new thrust at the Austrians and Germans via the Balkans. Churchill really had the hots for the idea that Italy and the Balkans represented the "soft underbelly" of Europe. He was to be all for going in that way during WWII, as well. Gallipoli, along with the treatment and use of Commonwealth troops in France, marked the high tide of Britain's command and control of Commonwealth Forces. The propensity of British Generals to use non-UK troops for the really bloody work, while at the same time treating them as second-class citizens, caused the command relationships to be much different in WWII. Especially since, pound for pound, the Commonwealth soldiers were in main, better quality troops than those from the UK (exceptions on both sides abounding, of course). Like it or no, the colonials were, if nothing else, generally healthier than their UK counterparts. Regardless, all the soldiers quality was oft-times squandered by execrable generalship. In case there is any doubt how Australians felt about it, this picture is of the Sydney Memorial.

For the Turks? This was a moment of great pride for them, marking as it did the end of a long slide to obscurity and mediocrity, and cemented Ataturk's reforms and the establishment of a secular state - and gave the Army the imprimatur of the guardian of the state's secular nature - though that hasn't always gone well...

The Arsenal at Argghhh! has several items with an ANZAC connection. Our WWI-era Vickers machine gun is an ex-Turkish gun - and by the serial number is *not* one of the ones provided to Turkey in 1940 (to keep them neutral) but is in all probability a captured gun, reworked (the Turks were always tinkering with their weapons, trying to stretch their service life. Hi-res, click here, here, here, and here. Second, we have a M1893 Turkish Mauser, which is quite possibly (by age and ship date to Turkey) but unverifiably a Gallipoli vet. This rifle sports a Sanderson-made M1907 bayonet, captured by the Turks and reworked to fit the Mauser. We also have a 2nd Military District bayonet (Australian) that has been through the same treatment. Since invading at Gallipoli was a Brit idea, it's the Brit bayonet that hangs on the Turk rifle. Last, but not least, we have an enameled drinking cup recovered from the fighting pits around Tobruk, in North Africa, to give us a Second World War flavor.

Hi-res, click here. Last, but not least, are the dogtags. Body recovery being tough in the conditions under which the campaign at Gallipoli was fought, when Aussie troops went 'over the top' many would leave a bayonet or stick stuck in the sandbags or walls of the trench, with their dogtags hanging from 'em. If, after the battle, they were still there...

The  Kiwis and Aussies have soldiered with us during the Long War.  We appreciate their service and sacrifices.

For the Commonwealth soldier, the equivalent of Taps is the Last Post.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam


I have never been so moved, either before or since, as I was by my visit to the memorial in Sydney.  The monument is quite small as these things go, but it is the finest tribute to combat soldiers that exists in the world today.  No glory on display here, but a large dose of honor and sacrifice that literally takes your breath away.
Australians have fought alongside the US in WWI, WWII, Korea, VN, Iraq, & Afghanistan. (I don't believe that any other country can say that; I believe that the Kiwis missed Iraq, but I won't swear to it.) Also, in WWI, I believe that US troops were briefly under the command of the Australian general Sir John Monash.

Let me also append Ataturk's tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli:

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, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway 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.

I have not forgotten. I know my freedoms were paid for by others, and will always be grateful for their sacrifice.
Had the generals been the same quality as the ANZACs, Gallilpoli may well have been a victory.  General Sir John Monash comes to mind as an appropriate commander.  Had the war gone into 1919 Sir John may well have commanded the Western Front British troops.  Not bad for an Aussie.
Allies and friends.  We mourn their losses as our own.  Past, present, and future.

Thanks John and all of you on behalf of our and New Zealand's diggers.
I am currently in the land of Murray on holidays, and took in the Anzac Day service at Taupo.  There were even Australian Navy representaatives there (no doubt seeing if we can occupy Lake Taupo with our frigates).  Our New Zealand friends always seem to be there supporting the Aussies - especially with artillery for some reason.  Even took in the New Zealand Military museum on the way up, and it wasn't bad.  May have some photos for John later. 
Given that the troops currently in Afghanistan can't celebrate the day with a beer or three, the next best thing is to make a Southern Cross (watch the Youtube clip at the link).