Australia remembers on 100th anniversary of Gallipoli landings
ANZAC Day, originally a commemoration of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.
ANZAC Day—April 25 every year—is probably Australia’s most important national occasion, as it marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 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 (Turkey) in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany.
The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on April 25, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold maneouver 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. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and April 25 soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left Australians and New Zealanders all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.
Each year on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day (November 11), the two major days of commemoration in Australia, the Memorial in Australia’s capital of Canberra holds National Ceremonies on the Parade Ground. These are attended by thousands of official guests and visitors and are followed by the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.
Find out more about ANZAC Day at the Australian War Memorial website.
ANZAC Day is remembered at all Australian universities.