Friday, April 25, 2014

Anzac Day


Today is Anzac Day in Australia and new Zealand, a day that is probably the most sacred in the secular calendar. The date, 25 April, honours the members of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey in World War 1, but the day is a national day or remembrance for those Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations and the contributions of those who have served. The day includes dawn services, marches by servicemen, remembrance ceremonies and reunions, as well as a blind eye to two up gambling games at local pubs. 

In honour of Anzac Day, there is no Funny Friday today.

Bytes has previously had other posts about Anzac Day and these can be accessed by clicking the following links:

The first Anzac Day:

The Battle of the Nek:

Some Anzac day items:

And the Band Played waltzing Matilda:

General Birdwood:

Anzac Biscuits

Today's Bytes is a display of a selection of photographs taken during the Gallipoli campaign:

A Turkish sniper, disguised as a bush. The 2 Australian soldiers are wearing regulation uniform, which suggests that the photo was taken early in the campaign. As the campaign wore on, the heat caused uniforms to be discarded. Bare chests and singlets were not uncommon.

To make the Turks think that the Anzacs were still on Gallipoli when their evacuation took place under cover of night, the soldiers rigged up devices that caused rifles to fire periodically. This was done by dripping water into cans connected to rifle triggers, causing the rifles to fire even long after being left.

Dummy soldiers used to make the Turks think that the trenches were still manned.

When the Anzacs left Gallipoli they took their artillery with them. So as not to alert the Turks, they replaced the withdrawn pieces with wooden mockups.

The lessons learned at Gallipoli came in handy in other campaigns. The above horse mockups were erected in the Jordan Valley to trick the Turks into believing that there was a strong concentration of Desert Mounted Corps, part of the Light Horse.

On 17 December 1915, a famous game of cricket was played at Shell Green, Anzac, as Turkish shells passed overhead. The batsman, Major George Macarthur Onslow, 7th Light Horse Regiment, NSW, has just been caught out. The game was part of the various deceptions planned to deceive the Turks that all was normal at Anzac while the evacuation was being carried out

Periscope rifle developed by Sergeant William Beech (pictured above with his invention) of the 2nd Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF), in May 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign. The device allowed a soldier to aim and fire a rifle from a trench, without being exposed to enemy fire.

Australian light horseman using a periscope rifle, Gallipoli 1915. Note the relaxation of uniforms, the trench conditions and the depth of the trences, as well as the rifles and bayonets.

An Australian officer visits a comrade's grave at Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Helles, Gallipoli, 

When the Anzacs secretly evacuated Gallipoli, taking with them every soldier, their animals and equipment without the loss of a single man, it was nonetheless disturbing for many that they were leaving behind dead friends and comrades. Men in two’s and threes visited the cemeteries to tidy graves of friends and erect new crosses. Ons soldier said to General Birdwood on the final day, pointing to a little cemetery, "I hope they won't hear us marching down the deres [gullies]"
(Official History of Australia in the War; The Story of Anzac, Volume II, p 882)

Chaplain Walter Dexter looking out over North Beach, Anzac. On 16 December 1915, three days before the final evacuation, Dexter walked around Anzac leaving behind him something of Australia:
…I went up the gullies and through the cemeteries, scattering silver wattle seed. If we have to leave here, I intend that a bit of Australia, shall be here. I soaked the seed for about 20 hours, and they seem to be well and thriving."
- Chaplain Walter Dexter, 16-17 December 1915

Australian soldier on the day of evacuation.

8 Australian Graves at Gallipoli in a small fenced off area next to a walkway. The head and foot of each grave is marked by two large round bombs.

Australian 'Diggers' burying dead Anzac comrades between lines during ceasefire May 24, 1915

Unidentified Australian soldier offering a wounded Turkish soldier a cup of water at Gallipoli, 1915.

"They were some of our newer Australian soldiers – 17th Infantry – and that is how they regard the Turk and the Turk regards them. The most pathetic evidence that I have heard of is a little wooden cross found in the scrub, just two splinters of biscuit box tacked together, with the inscription “Here lies a Turk.” The poor soul would probably turn in his grave if his ghost could see that rough cross above him. But he need not worry. It was put there in all sincerity. Some Australian found him and buried him exactly as he would bury one of his own men – with that last little homage to mark the resting-place of a man fighting for his country."
[Charles Bean, dispatch, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 13 January 1916, p 92]

Remains of dead bodies on Hill 60. Anzac. Australian war Graves Photographic Archive.

The bleached bones of Australians, New Zealanders and Turks look the same, giving added meaning to the words of Mustafa Ataturk, front line commander of the Turkish forces at Gallipoli, the founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first President:

Heroes who 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 Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away 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.

- Ataturk’s tribute in 1934 to the Anzacs who died at Gallipoli, inscribed on a memorial in Gallipoli and on the Kemal Ataturk Memorial, Canberra.



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