Anzac Day 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. 

More to explorer


  1. 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:

    Waltzing Matilda (truly excellent version):

  2. 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.

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