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Noublions Jamais L'Australie
April 24, 2008 10:10 PM   Subscribe

Today is ANZAC day in Australia and New Zealand, the commemorating the abortive Gallipoli landings of 1915. It is a solemn day, marked by a dawn service and parade in every town across the two countries.

Some ANZAC day traditions include ANZAC Biscuits, and playing the game of two-up.

A drive through the countryside in Australia demonstrates just how devastating the Great War was to a country of just over five million people.

Today also marks another Great War anniversary, the retaking of the French town of Villiers Bretonneux by the Australian AIF after the Germans took the town during their massive all-or-nothing offensive of 1918.
The Australian commanding officer, Harold “Pompey” Elliot, was a brilliant, if flawed leader who cared passionately about his men, and suffered bouts of depression that would later claim his life.

Lest we forget
posted by mattoxic (70 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Frequent Costco or Sam's Club shoppers may be familiar with ANZAC biscuits (Aussie Bites in Costco-lingo). I have made them from this recipe with great success--leaving out the orange nonsense, and including various seeds and dried fruits.

They're a delicious and hearty snack whether or not you're one of my kids.
posted by padraigin at 10:17 PM on April 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by twirlypen at 10:18 PM on April 24, 2008


I've linked this before, but take a listen to Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (Franklyn B. Paverty Bush Band, mp3) (Bogle himself, mp3), which is about the Gallipoli landings. Thanks for the post!
posted by maxwelton at 10:18 PM on April 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


"And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is probably the saddest song I know.

Yet I still love an ANZAC bickie.
posted by padraigin at 10:25 PM on April 24, 2008


The Australian commanding officer, Harold “Pompey” Elliot, was a brilliant, if flawed leader who cared passionately about his men, and suffered bouts of depression that would later claim his life.

Lest we forget


The British First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston “The British Navy will have no problem contolling the Dardanelles” Churchill, was a club-headed, if sometimes witty leader who cared nothing at all about the fate for the commonwealth soldiers he left unsupported on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Lest we forget.
posted by three blind mice at 10:47 PM on April 24, 2008


The Pogues version absolutely slays.
Eric Bogle wrote it only as Shane MacGowan could deliver it.
This is the ultra-non-plus of balladry.
posted by isopraxis at 10:48 PM on April 24, 2008


The failure of leadership at Gallipoli is covered well in "Military Misfortunes: the Anatomy of Failure in War" by John Gooch and Eliot A. Cohen. Cohen went on to prove one of his points about failure by supporting the Iraq War as a signing member of the Project for the New American Century.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:01 PM on April 24, 2008


If I recall, one of the commanders at ANZAC completely failed to push his forces past the initial beachhead even though the terrain at the time was completely uncontested. What's more, he stayed on his ship the whole time, and took little interest in the activity of his subordinates. This enabled the Turks to repel the invasion along a very limited front in terrain that was favorable to defense. Perhaps we should be thankful for their spectacular failure, as it probably helped Kemal Ataturk to later form Turkey into a secular state.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:07 PM on April 24, 2008


I like how both Australia and New Zealand have that day off at the same time. Makes me feel closer to my Aussie buddies (which is a big part of what we're celebrating). And I know this seems kind of obvious, since we're supposed to be commemorating the same thing so it should be on the same day, but even the Queen's Birthday is celebrated on different days in each country despite that our Queen is the same person as theirs.
posted by shelleycat at 11:33 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I recall, one of the commanders at ANZAC completely failed...

Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton
posted by mattoxic at 11:54 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


While Hamilton had to share some blame Stopford's inaction at Suvla bay was an unambiguous failure.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:09 AM on April 25, 2008


Is there a different collective term for the Australians and New Zealanders who fought in WWII?
posted by BinGregory at 12:18 AM on April 25, 2008


Can I say that I always thought Gallipoli was an Italian dance and ANZAC was an insurance company with a duck mascot... you learn something new on this intarweb every day...
posted by wendell at 12:28 AM on April 25, 2008


Perhaps we should be thankful for their spectacular failure, as it probably helped Kemal Ataturk to later form Turkey into a secular state.

There is no question that the successful Turkish defence under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal laid the foundation for the Turkish War of Independence and led to the creation of the modern Turkish Republic. In the end a good thing. Of course, that wasn't what the Allied military genuises had in mind when they invaded. And I guess it offers little consolation to the Antipodean soldiers who sacrificed so much there.

While Hamilton had to share some blame Stopford's inaction at Suvla bay was an unambiguous failure.

There were plenty of unambiguous failures. The Turks simply floated mines down the Bosphorus and the mighty British Navy, whose guns were to provide the artillery support for the land invasion, could do nothing but withdraw leaving the ANZAC forces to their fate. Without the support of naval guns, the rest was farce.
posted by three blind mice at 12:34 AM on April 25, 2008


mattoxic: While noublions is a perfectly cromulent word, I think you meant:

N'oublions Jamais L'Australie

BinGregory: Yes. Cannon fodder.
posted by Sparx at 12:38 AM on April 25, 2008


Sparx - I get the joke, but I meant WW Two. I knew an interesting old Australian gentleman who fought in WWII, and I have referred to him as an ANZAC. I'm guessing now that isn't correct, and wonder if there is a proper term?
posted by BinGregory at 12:43 AM on April 25, 2008


Sparx,

I have to admit I cut and paste from the Pompey Elliot article.

- it could be an Australian's tortured version of French.
posted by mattoxic at 12:45 AM on April 25, 2008


Referred to him in conversations with other people, I mean. ...not to turn this into my own AskMe or anything, and thanks for helping!
posted by BinGregory at 12:48 AM on April 25, 2008


BinGregory: ANZAC as a term to describe grouped NZ/OZ battallions was also used in ww2 and has been used as recently as East Timor 2006. Also in Vietnam IIRC. Generically, however, I don't think they are called that unless they are units specifically grouped together, so an Aussie soldier who has seen battle is not necessarily an ANZAC.

I am not a war buff, however, so others may know more.
posted by Sparx at 12:58 AM on April 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


BinGregory: You could probably call him a digger with impunity, however, though that is specifically an aussie term.
posted by Sparx at 1:07 AM on April 25, 2008


Gah! Third post (sorry - I'll shut up after this). Here's a podcast interview about WW2 cannon fodder Anzacs.
posted by Sparx at 1:11 AM on April 25, 2008


Yeah diggers are aussies, kiwis are New Zealanders
posted by mattoxic at 1:15 AM on April 25, 2008


There's a sign, above the door I think, in one of the schools in Villers-Bretenneux that simply says “N'oubliez pas les Australiennes”—Don't forget the Australians. I think it's a little more elegant, and accurate (Australians as opposed to just Australia) than the ne...jamais posted up thread.

Pericles' Eulogy is always fitting today:
Each has won a glorious grave -- not that sepulchre of earth wherein they lie, but the living tomb of everlasting remembrance wherein their glory is enshrined. For the whole earth is the sepulchre of heroes. Monuments may rise and tablets be set up to them in their own land, but on far-off shores there is an abiding memorial that no pen or chisel has traced; it is graven not on stone or brass, but on the living hearts of humanity. Take these men for your example. Like them, remember that prosperity can be only for the free, that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.
posted by oxford blue at 1:30 AM on April 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


My Grandad was captured on Crete so I'd read a bit about that particular WWII theatre, and was impressed by one particular story of ANZAC bravery at a country lane they called 42nd Street.
posted by Abiezer at 1:31 AM on April 25, 2008


Lest we forget.

You could posit that Gallipoli was the progenitor of the Murdoch media empire, with Keith Murdoch, father of Rupert, first achieving a level of fame as a journalist there. From what I can recall from Les Carlyon's fantastic book Gallipoli, a large proportion of his account of the campaign was actually sourced from another journalist.
posted by Onanist at 1:32 AM on April 25, 2008


Villers-Bretenneux. Wikipedia disagrees, for what that's worth, as do 282 vs 2 google hits. Not trying to be argumentative, just getting to the bottom of an interesting ANZAC legacy.
posted by Sparx at 2:14 AM on April 25, 2008


Onanist, Keith Murdoch played a very interesting role in the war, notwithstanding a whispering campaign against Monash- which kept him out of command, and in turn probably prolonged the war.

The other journalist you mention was perhaps Bean?
posted by mattoxic at 2:20 AM on April 25, 2008


Thanks Sparx; I had no idea "ANZAC" was still a term in common use. I've got mixed feeling about ANZAC day, but mainly because I was under the impression that term was so fixed to the first World War. A ridiculous war that we had no place being involved in, where we were, to quote Bogle, "Butchered like lambs at the slaughter". Maybe I would feel better if it was just called "Veterans' Day" or something. Anyway, you make me feel better.

But I still don't understand ANZAC day. Is it a celebration of national pride? Mateship? Brotherhood? Courage? All that? If so, why should it be linked to a pointless millitary conflict we were dragged into out of some pathetic loyalty to Mother England? Is it just a respectful celebration of those who have given their lives and their health to the service of our country? That's fair enough, but why should those of us who never made that sacrifice have a right to feel proud and patriotic? I have a greater affinity for Remembrance Day, because that truly feels like a solemn occasion, remembering the pointless futility of war, and those who gave their lives. ANZAC day doesn't have the same feel, it seems more of a celebration, and I have a hard time getting to grips with that.

Anyway, I went to the march in Adelaide this morning. The repetition of "Scotland the Brave" by the pipe bands made my wife cry, but the most memorable moment for me was a group of about fifty South Vietnamese soldiers, marching past, who got a massive cheer. The RSL has a bit of a reputation, thanks to former president Bruce Ruxton, for racism, but it was great to see such respect for people of all nationalities who fought along side our men.
posted by Jimbob at 2:33 AM on April 25, 2008


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posted by pompomtom at 2:44 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


My online pal Deborah has a take I tend to agree with.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:57 AM on April 25, 2008


I agree with many of Deborah's points in regards to the stupidity of celebrating a tragedy, but I think she's on the wrong track with equating any kind of respectful occasion or ceremony with being "religious". Has Deborah graduated from university? Did she wear a gown and stand in line to collect her degree? Surely, that must pass for "religion" in her mind then, mustn't it? If you believe in the concept of "society" (as all good lefties do), then you should acknowledge the fact that there is power in ceremonies that bring societies together, whether that means voting, jury duty, or national commemoration of war veterans.
posted by Jimbob at 3:15 AM on April 25, 2008


The blog entry by Deborah is something more than contentious ill-conceived pseudo-polemical feminist nonsense. Her self righteous tone does nothing to foster real conversation and is just soap box stick waving; a cheap way to draw attention and traffic, similar to the tactic of the right wing 'shock-jocks' on the radio. Say something shocking, and wait for the increased audience. One wonders how long it is before google ads appear on her site?

I hope her plane of existence will intersect with reality at some time in the near future. Perhaps not for her sake, but for the sake of her poor daughter.
posted by oxford blue at 3:29 AM on April 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't worry, oxford blue, given the Australian media's attitude towards ANZAC day, I'm sure she will be exposed on the front page of The Australian by tomorrow morning as the treasonous feminazi she is.
posted by Jimbob at 3:36 AM on April 25, 2008


Unless she's a Kiwi, of course. We gave them the opportunity to join the Federation, you know. She'll be going to hell anyway. Hey, is anyone else drinking spiced mead?
posted by Jimbob at 3:50 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Crickey, oxford blue, don't hold back or anything.

The deborah blog is problematic, I'll agree, but it's not that vile. There's a religious aspect to the day, but it's not particularly overt, and nobody is forcing anybody to go and attend a dawn service or march in parade, and it's tenuous to make the connection between them. Some people just value that connection to the past of their grandfathers and great grandfathers. I don't have a problem with that, symbols and ceremonies have obvious power, and there's fewer inconvenient protesters around than on Waitangi Day or Australia Day.

Sure, nobody celebrates Mother's day in the same way as Anzac Day or Veterans Day or whatever - but nobody celebrates Conscientious Objectors day ever, and are they crying over it?

She says she's going to sleep in and I doubt anyone will think any the worse of her, or at least, no one with an opinion worth having. It's unlikely that the sounds of a bugle calling out the notes of The Last Post will disturb her slumber.
posted by Sparx at 3:50 AM on April 25, 2008


Actually, I noticed some protesters at today's march. Sitting on the banks of the Torrens were some people with "Free Tibet" and "The Chinese Communist Party Is Harvesting The Organs Of Dissidents" banners. They were doing Tai Chi, I kid you not. But they were far away from the action, noone bothered them or paid them much attention.
posted by Jimbob at 4:11 AM on April 25, 2008


padraigin: ""And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is probably the saddest song I know."

For my money you can't get a much sadder song about the ANZACs than 'Only 19' (lyrics).

Good to see so many people are still turning out to pay their respects. Lest we forget, but may this tradition endure.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:42 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


ANZAC Day was a day for mums, dads, wifes and kids to remember those that did not come back - today we'd probably use the term closure.

I don't care what people like Deborah think- it's meaningless.

Imagine the grief and worry those at home felt. All they had was the odd heavily censored letter.

Australia and New Zealand were tiny and isolated, and very much a part of the British empire. Until Gallipoli they were essentially sheep stations. The deeds of the troops, and the collective grief of the people gave the two countries an identity.

No one had really been "proud" to be an Australian or New Zealander before the war, but certainly afterward.
posted by mattoxic at 4:48 AM on April 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I always get a funny feeling whenever Anzac Day rolls around, Jimbob, and I think it's to do with the idea that no-one can really say for certain exactly why it exists. And every year the emphasis seems to change a little bit, the past seems to change a little bit.

Not so long ago, the prevailing sentiment seemed to be one of resentment toward England - the notion that they'd dragged us into their bloodbath. False, of course - support for entering the war was strong at all levels of Australian society. Now, it's the idea of freedom, neverminding that many of the soldiers were conscripts.

Pretty soon, the last Australian soldiers who actually fought in WWI will be dead, cutting us loose from the last people with real memories of the events, as opposed to the manufactured memories we are cautioned to preserve - Lest We Forget - and then I guess we'll be free to make Anzac Day about anything we want - patriotism, sacrifice, brotherhood, beer, whatever. Stirring stuff, sure, but part of me hates it, and here's why:

This shit, this neverending annual cycle of parades and remembrances and solemn speeches and tv specials is a big part of why people agree to go off to war in the first place. Anzac Day is a piece of theatre that must be regularly performed to reassure people that it's okay to go to war and possibly die, because in return society will immortalize their names, and by immortalize, I don't mean simply keep an imperishable list of the dead in a vault somewhere. This particular piece of theatre has to be impressed on everyone - it has to be in your face. Hence, we have a public holiday. Hence, we have a parade through public streets, disrupting pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Hence, regular tv and radio broadcasts are altered. Hence, we have whacking great monuments that major roads have to detour around. You can't escape it.

As a society, could we safely forget Anzac Day and be no worse off for it? Sure. Our former Prime Minister John Howard once counselled against taking a 'black-armband' view of history. At the time he was referring, albeit obliquely, to the shameful (and much more recent) episode of the Stolen Generation and to a lesser extent other institutional crimes committed against indigenous Australians over the past 200+ years. And the truth is, we have as a society forgotten the Stolen Generation and many other episodes besides.

I'm sure Howard would be mortified at the idea of Anzac Day as a 'black-armband' view of history, but this only serves to demonstrate how arbitrary we can be - this piece of history will be officially remembered; this piece officially forgotten. This group of defeated will be immortalized in word, image and deed; this group of defeated will be rendered forever invisible and silent.

I can't really muster up enough enthusiasm to get really outraged about all this, but I tend to get a bit depressed around Anzac Day. I do enjoy the biscuits, however.
posted by Ritchie at 4:54 AM on April 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


it could be an Australian's tortured version of French.

That'd be more like 'nooblons jamays la 'stralian?'...ah I wish I had Paul Hogan to help me out.

Good to see attendance up at this year's marches, which is bucking the trend considering more of the actual veterans die every year. And despite its name, it is more and more a general observance of the contribution by veterans rather than being tied to a single war or event. Which is, of course, the only way to justify it as a public holiday here, a decade short of a century later.

As for the Deborah blog; I think my reaction lays somewhere between Jimbob and oxford_blue. From the way she describes it, any group event must involve an unacceptable compromise of the individual. That being the case, feel free to crawl back into your fucking hole. I'm glad she didn't attend any dawn services - that kind of shit we don't need.
posted by cosmonik at 4:54 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


hey mattoxic, yeah Keith Murdoch's role was quite intriguing, though, after some googling, I learn he was only there for 4 days! I believe the journo was the swashbuckling Ashmead-Bartlett and not Bean.

I'll be getting all Aussied-up and celebrating ANZAC day here in London tomorrow at the ANZAC Sports Challenge. Should be quite the Ocker gathering!
posted by Onanist at 5:05 AM on April 25, 2008


Perhaps we should be thankful for their spectacular failure, as it probably helped Kemal Ataturk to later form Turkey into a secular state.

Well, the flip side is that had the landings succeeded, it's likely that modern-day Turkey would be a lot smaller than it is now.

Not so long ago, the prevailing sentiment seemed to be one of resentment toward England - the notion that they'd dragged us into their bloodbath. False, of course - support for entering the war was strong at all levels of Australian society.

Isn't that sort of the point, though? They went off fighting for a cause they didn't really have a stake in, in part because this was their "big chance" to get involved in a war, only to realize how pointless the whole enterprise was.
posted by deanc at 5:17 AM on April 25, 2008


For my money you can't get a much sadder song about the ANZACs than 'Only 19' (lyrics).

The Herd's version is also fantastic. Does a great song justice.
posted by mattoxic at 5:21 AM on April 25, 2008


Sparx—I've been watching, and doing some reading on John Adams lately, and his lack of moderation may have rubbed off on me. As he said “In politics the middle way is none at all.”
posted by oxford blue at 5:34 AM on April 25, 2008


In Redemption, Leon Uris writes of three Irish family's emigration to Australia and New Zealand in the 19th century, and their establishment as sheep farmers. The meat of the narrative, however, is in the middle when the sons are sent to Gallipoli with the ANZAC brigades. I wept openly at the senseless slaughter reading those chapters. It is one of the most powerful examples of historical fiction I've come across.
posted by netbros at 5:36 AM on April 25, 2008


This shit, this neverending annual cycle of parades and remembrances and solemn speeches and tv specials is a big part of why people agree to go off to war in the first place.

Ever been in a RSL club on Anzac day? If you haven't then you really can't see why you have totally missed the point. The veterans drink to celebrate and remember their buddies and to try and wash away the pain of their experiences. They don't particularly care if there are crowds to see them. They march for themselves and their mates.

Most Australians don't go off to war because of a parade once a year. They go because being in the Defence Forces is a pretty secure job that pays well.
posted by gomichild at 5:50 AM on April 25, 2008


This shit, this neverending annual cycle of parades and remembrances and solemn speeches and tv specials is a big part of why people agree to go off to war in the first place.

Well, in World War One, the Australians went to war because they believed in the empire and for a sense of adventure (remember, they were always a volunteer force- no conscription)

When things started to get nasty - men still signed up, party to avoid the stigma of being labelled a coward, and partly to support those enlisted.

World War two was different. The mother country was in peril, and Australians flocked to serve- again as volunteers. Later in the war Japan was directly threatening Australia.

In Vietnam- the conservative government conscripted them, so they had little choice.

Only a fucking moron would go off to war because they may survive long enough to be in a parade. - And solemn? What would you prefer? Weird Al perhaps?
posted by mattoxic at 6:03 AM on April 25, 2008


Isn't that sort of the point, though? They went off fighting for a cause they didn't really have a stake in, in part because this was their "big chance" to get involved in a war, only to realize how pointless the whole enterprise was.

Sure, why not? It's not like I can prove you wrong even if I wanted to, and how the hell would I know anyway? At this stage it's possible to imprint almost any larger narrative upon the facts - this is what I meant about the past continually changing. Okay, I accept the past is never really settled - but not every historic event gets the kind of exposure that Gallipoli does.

Ever been in a RSL club on Anzac day? If you haven't then you really can't see why you have totally missed the point. The veterans drink to celebrate and remember their buddies and to try and wash away the pain of their experiences. They don't particularly care if there are crowds to see them. They march for themselves and their mates.

Of course I've been to the RSL on Anzac Day. And I've spoken (albeit twenty years ago when I was just a kid) to guys who fought in WWI. Nothing of what veterans choose to do with their memories of war has any bearing on what our society as a whole has chosen to do with their memories of war as we conceive them. And if you really believe they couldn't give a toss either way whether they got a parade or not, I can introduce you to numberless Vietnam veterans (who don't go to the RSL on Anzac day) whose bitterness will suggest otherwise.

(The tiles above the urinal trough in the men's restroom at Black Rock RSL are printed with the names of war dead. Black humour? I've never been sure.)

Well, in World War One, the Australians went to war because they believed in the empire and for a sense of adventure (remember, they were always a volunteer force- no conscription)

Huh. Are you sure? I was pretty certain conscription didn't end until after 1916. Possibly my history is faulty.
posted by Ritchie at 6:15 AM on April 25, 2008


I have the utmost respect for those that went and fought, and lived or died far from home, whether they were conscripts or willing volunteers. In the end, they and their families paid a high price to defend their way of life. Right or wrong, grubby patriotism or purest selfless sacrifice, it doesn't matter when the heart stops and the thoughts fade away.

ANZAC day, to my earliest memory, is about remembering the names and places as a kind of *discouragement* to repeating the past, not to drum up the blood so that we'll go and fight again. I think if you suggest that to an old digger, you'll get a well-deserved punch in the mouth.

Lest we forget.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 6:16 AM on April 25, 2008


My great-grandfather died at Gallipoli.

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posted by gaspode at 6:22 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huh. Are you sure? I was pretty certain conscription didn't end until after 1916. Possibly my history is faulty.

Your history is faulty

There were two referenda during WW1 to ask the people to introduce conscription, both were defeated.
posted by mattoxic at 6:26 AM on April 25, 2008


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posted by lester at 6:30 AM on April 25, 2008


Hurrah for the ANZACs!

I have to say, though, the prettiest WWI song I've heard is The Green Fields of France by the Fureys [youtube].

I had a paper to write today, so ANZAC day meant I couldn't get coffee and had to eat kind of crappy sushi on Elizabeth St...
posted by maryn at 6:42 AM on April 25, 2008


Every year, I forget the words of Ataturk regarding the ANZACs, and this year they surprised me with their elegance yet again:
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... 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 don't use the phrase 'heart-touching' lightly, but damn.
posted by cosmonik at 6:58 AM on April 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


"The Turks simply floated mines down the Bosphorus and the mighty British Navy, whose guns were to provide the artillery support for the land invasion, could do nothing but withdraw leaving the ANZAC forces to their fate. Without the support of naval guns, the rest was farce."

Far as I knew, the ANZAC forces landed on the other side of the Gallipoli peninsula to the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus: the Navy got bounced on a previous effort to force the Dardanelles. Also, the ANZACs did pretty well that day - it's just that they ran into an inspired defence (as noted above, by Mustafa Kemal, whose regiment was slaughtered almost to a man), and got bogged down for months as a result. Walking around the battlesite, it seems that they were just a hair's breadth from taking the heights. I always find myself defending the idea of trying to take the place - It wasn't stupid or pointless - it was an effort to break the absolutely horrific damage being wrought in Flanders by bringing the Russians in and opening another front. Also not to forget that while 11000 or so ANZACs died, so did 22000 Brits (including two of my relatives) and 11000 French, albeit further down the peninsula.

Seconding Cosmonik on Kemal's beautiful epitaph for the ANZACs.
posted by YouRebelScum at 7:02 AM on April 25, 2008


ANZAC day, to my earliest memory, is about remembering the names and places as a kind of *discouragement* to repeating the past, not to drum up the blood so that we'll go and fight again. I think if you suggest that to an old digger, you'll get a well-deserved punch in the mouth.

I have suggested precisely that to an old digger. He responded to the effect that, while high-minded concepts might be enough to get you to sign up, the only way to convince yourself to kill another human being was to know that by doing so you were defending yourself and the men next to you. Kill or be killed, in other words - very human, very private sentiments that I can get behind completely. I'm not sure you could build a national holiday out it, however.

So why exactly do I deserve that punch in the face, again? I've got no animus against parade-goers or veterans or people who go to the dawn service. I've been there myself. One day I'll probably go to Anzac Cove. My argument was pretty moderate, I thought.

There were two referenda during WW1 to ask the people to introduce conscription, both were defeated.

Thank you for correcting me, mattoxic.
posted by Ritchie at 7:04 AM on April 25, 2008


I was going to post the same quote Cosmonik pasted. And remember that these words were from the commander who lost maybe twice as many men in the battle as the ANZACs as he defended his homeland. True leadership is like this:
"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 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."
posted by bystander at 7:07 AM on April 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the New Zealanders actually took the heights, and held it for a brief period.

Ataturk was a genius, and all over the peninsular. The British high command were the antithesis.

Once Ataturk was given command of all forces, it was all over.
posted by mattoxic at 7:07 AM on April 25, 2008


Mattoxic: I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Turkish command told Ataturk not to engage, and he disobeyed a direct order to turf the ANZACs back. Tactically, the Allies messed it all up, but the strategy wasn't stupid.
posted by YouRebelScum at 7:25 AM on April 25, 2008


Helen's blog: --But I do mind the religious nature of ANZAC Day--

I stopped reading there. Equating solemnity and the memory of real people who served on our behalf in real wars with the theatrical posturing in service of an imaginary sky being does not really gel with me. I have never perceived the day as religious in the slightest.

I used to go the march when I was a kid with my old man. It was great fun and very interesting. I may not attend any more and watch little about it on tv but I still think it's an important fulcrum of solidarity around which our shared cultures (Oz'n'NZ) revolve. I like that we don't go overboard about it. It's not like a rah rah "we are the best" nationalistic wankfest, despite the media's best efforts. It's social rememberance.

Coincidentally, an old mate of mine contacted out of the blue a fortnight ago, expressing guilt about having had my grandfather's cigarette case (my grandad had picked it up at the Somme in WWI) for something like 20 years. I had given it to him - it was no intrinsically valuable memento for our family - for no great reason that I remember. But this guy had harboured guilt about depriving me and my family of some link with my grandad. I tried to assuage his guilt as best I could and we had a good talk about old times. He sent it through the mail and it arrived this week. Must have been hard for him to make the call. Blew me away a bit.
posted by peacay at 7:53 AM on April 25, 2008


"I'll see you when I see you."

"Not if I see you first."
posted by ericb at 9:25 AM on April 25, 2008


I had never read Ataturk's tribute to the ANZACs before. Now I know the origin of the lyrics to Midnight Oil'd "Blossom and Blood". http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/m/midnight_oil/blossom_and_blood.html
posted by SevenPercentSolution at 9:27 AM on April 25, 2008


I was fortunate enough to visit the ANZAC-display corridor in the Pentagon once. There were recruiting posters in there that made me want to sign up, and I'm not even Australian.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.
posted by jquinby at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2008


it's just that they ran into an inspired defence (as noted above, by Mustafa Kemal, whose regiment was slaughtered almost to a man), and got bogged down for months as a result.

Ataturk gave the famous order, "I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place."

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Turkish command told Ataturk not to engage, and he disobeyed a direct order to turf the ANZACs back.

I believe that the Ottoman upper-command was fooled by the Allies' decoy landings and thought that they represented the actual location of the Allies' attack. Ataturk correctly infered the actual location of the Allied landings based on his understanding of the best strategic points and disobeyed orders to bring his troops to those landing areas. In addition, storms are said to have forced the Anzacs into a landing where they were much more vulnerable than was intended.

Not knowing much military history, I can only assume that there was a good reason why the Allies thought invading up the Dardanelles was a good idea. However, looking at the maps and seeing that the Allies basically needed to make a landing at the southern point of the peninsula and fight their way up, I could only ask myself, "What were they thinking?"
posted by deanc at 9:40 AM on April 25, 2008


Our annual ritual of denial.

That New Zealand, on April 25, 1915, was participating in a war of imperial aggrandisement has never been officially conceded. That the war was entered into cynically, almost casually, and for the basest of motives, is, similarly, inadmissible.

Official New Zealand did, eventually, acknowledge that the war had been conducted by effete military incompetents but not in ways that permitted New Zealand's relationship with the "Mother Country" to be seriously called into question.

The truly terrible truth, however, was one that official New Zealand could never acknowledge. That in order to permanently secure a British market for the exports of its farmers, the then prime minister, William Massey, made very sure that, per capita, New Zealand lost more young men than any of the other "White Dominions".

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:44 PM on April 25, 2008


mattoxic: "The Herd's version [of Only 19] is also fantastic. Does a great song justice."

Are you kidding me?
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:28 PM on April 25, 2008


I recommend the Turkish documentary - Gallipoli. Worth a watch, interesting to see the Turkish perspective.
posted by mattoxic at 5:22 PM on April 25, 2008


Keith Murdoch played a very interesting role in the war, notwithstanding a whispering campaign against Monash- which kept him out of command, and in turn probably prolonged the war. The other journalist you mention was perhaps Bean?

There's interesting stuff, worthy of its own post! More on Monash, Murdoch, Bean and Ashmead-Bartlett for a taste. God bless the Anzacs.

(mattoxic- many thanks, will do. Never aware of the thing before.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:04 PM on April 25, 2008


I've been meaning to do a post on Monash for a while.

He is a hero of mine. His was an incongruous rise to the top, son of German Jewish parents, and certainly not part of the establishment.

When Pershing entered the war he refused to allow the fresh American troops serve under Gough (who really was criminal in his neglect of the British/dominion forces), so their first battle was under Monash- well planned and executed.
posted by mattoxic at 7:57 PM on April 25, 2008


Great history post, I learned a lot in this thread - thanks, mattoxic.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:17 AM on April 26, 2008


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