UPDATE, Anzac Day evening: I recorded audio at the Dawn Service and sent it straight to Brisbane Is Home with my mobile phone:
I also sent in two good photos direct to the blog via mobile:
And there’s a video of the first 16-odd minutes of the March, right here:
You might get more out of the video by watching it in fullscreen mode: Click here to try that.
I’ve finished the first batch of photos: click here to see 30 photos from the Anzac Day March.
Second photoessay finished! Click here for the photos from the Dawn Service.
ORIGINAL STORY, Tuesday April 24th:
Anzac Day is probably the most deeply-felt national holiday in Australia. April 25th is the anniversary of the morning the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) forces attacked the coast of the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915, as part of an operation led by the British and French Allies to assist Russia.
The aim was to capture the peninsula, drive on to Constantinople (now Istanbul), and knock the Turkish Ottoman Empire out of World War One – they were fighting on the side of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria) and if the Empire could be defeated, then it would be easy to get supplies through the Ottoman choke point at Constantinople into the Black Sea and to Russia, the ally of the British Empire. See this Google Map for more info.
At dawn on April 25th, the ANZAC forces landed at Anzac Cove,(click here for 3 excellent maps) which was the wrong place. Although Australians and New Zealanders gained a reputation as being aggressive, effective soldiers, the campaign petered out as the Turkish defenders established their positions, and the Allied forces withdrew in December 1915.
Interestingly the withdrawal achieved complete tactical surprise and was a total success- not a single soldier was lost in the withdrawal. Normally a retreat is when the opposing army chases down the retreating soldiers and inflicts heavy damage, so it’s important to understand what an amazing feat this was.
The events at Gallipoli are one of the most important legends that modern Australia has. We’re a small nation, far away from our European roots, and we don’t like the idea of being forgotten. As far as we were concerned, what our ‘Diggers’ did at Gallipoli showed the world that we had arrived.
Many Australians and New Zealanders who wouldn’t have deep religious feelings about Easter or Christmas feel very deeply indeed about Anzac Day. It gives many Australians a surer sense of who we are and how the world sees us – we like to think that we fight hard, we’re loyal (especially to our mates), and also – I’m not so fond of this – that we are the cynical victims of forces outside our control (UK planning for Gallipoli failed badly several times, and it’s True (or at least truthy) that this led to Australians dying needlessly.)
The anniversary of Australian Federation (January 1) is a non-event – everyone has a hangover - and the anniversary of European Settlement (Australia Day, January 26th) is a day for a party. But Anzac Day is a genuinely patriotic holiday, which can inspire the sort of feelings that the Fourth Of July can in the USA. Unlike other public holidays, it never gets moved to the Friday to create a long weekend – Anzac Day is Anzac Day, even if it’s in the middle of the week.
Some people think that Anzac Day glorifies war, but even though sometimes some people go a bit too far, it’s also a day to think about who suffers in war.
And it’s not well enough known in Australia that Gallipoli plays a vital part in modern Turkish history as well. Kemal Attaturk, the founder and President of the modern Turkish Republic that replaced the Ottoman Empire, helped to lead the sucessful defence of Gallipoli against the Allied forces.
In 1934, as President of Turkey, he said:
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 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.
Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
The Dawn Service will take place at the Shrine Of Remembrance, Anzac Square, Ann St, City (directly opposite Central Station). It starts at 4.28am.
There are special trains that arrive at Central Station at or just before 4am.
Click here to see the extra train times.
The Anzac Day March starts at the corner of the Queen St Mall and George St, marches along George St towards Adelaide St, turns right into Adelaide St, marches to Creek St, turns right into Creek and then disbands at the corner of Creek and Queen Sts.
I’ll be taking pictures and recording sound at the Dawn Service and the march. Some of the photos and audio will turn up live here on Brisbane Is Home, and some will take a day or so to get online – but keep your eye on Brisbane Is Ho[me tomorrow for live-from-the-scene reporting.
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