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April 25, 2007

Today is Anzac Day In Australia And New Zealand

anzac_po1.jpgJules Crittenden has up a reminder that April 25 is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, marking the landings at Gallipoli in 1915 and the disastrous campaign there.

Churchill's idea for a second front went badly wrong, and he ended up resigning as First Lord of the Admiralty. The deaths of thousands of diggers at Gallipoli became a galvanizing event that helped establish a sense of nationhood for Australia, which until recently had been a British colony. A controversial event in which some see Australia as the victim of imperial Britain and others as an early example of Australian spirit in the face of adversity and a willingness to act in the world, at a time when Australia's security and economy were in large part linked to great powers elsewhere, as they are today.

Today, this small nation of 20 million on the other side of the world, with total air, land and sea forces of about 50,000, puts many nations to shame with its willingness to engage. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again. Timor and the Marshalls. As Foreign Minister Alexander Downer put it several years ago, Australia is not subject to the popular multinationalism of the lowest common denominator, but has stepped up to play its role.

Continue reading some firsthand accounts of Gallipoli at Forward Movement...

Related: The ANZAC Day Tradition: Why is this day so special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.
A big hat tip to Jules for reminding us of this important day for one of America's strongest allies.

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Abdul at April 25, 2007 11:11 AM

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