Lest we forget: ANZAC Day 2005

In a little over an hour, it will be April 25th, a day known to Australians and New Zealanders as ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day’s origins are in the terrible losses sustained by Australian and New Zealand troops during the landing and subsequent battle at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. As time passed it became a day of remembrance, a time to reflect upon the sacrifices of Australian and New Zealand service personnel, at war and at peace, home and abroad. For many, the actions of Australian troops in World War I helped to define our nation as independent of Britain; to coin a cliche, the birth of a nation.

For me, ANZAC Day is a time to think about those who perished at war, and those who came home forever changed. It is also a time to reflect upon how civilians are affected by war. Those whose husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters will never come home. It is also a time to be thankful for the freedoms we have in this country, freedoms that come from the sacrifices and determination of Australian troops in times of adversity.

It is also, particularly, a time for me to think about members currently serving in the Australian Defence Force. Now more than ever, Australian troops are involved in war-like activities in areas that are not officially at war. To my untrained, civilian mind, this is far more volatile than being in a war zone. ADF members go overseas expecting to keep the peace - some come home wounded or dead. World politics change quickly, local feelings towards foreign peacekeepers change even quicker. It’s a dangerous, difficult job. Our troops live in difficult times.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every soldier, sailor and airman, be they currently serving, or ex-members. I am proud of you, and believe our country is a better place because of what you do.
The Ode:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Thank you to all my Australian brothers and sisters in arms, past and present.

I didn’t attend the Dawn Service this year. I normally do, but it is now getting so crowded. I’ll hold my own service at home. :slight_smile:

I visited Australia about 20 years ago. Just outside of Melbourne there was a stretch of highway where they had planted a tree for every Aussie soldier killed in WWI. They lined both sides of the road, and as we drove along, the trees just seemed to go on for mile after mile after mile. It was one of the most amazing and horrifying things I have ever seen. As far as a war memorial goes… it sure as hell made it’s point.

It won’t be long before the last WWI Digger is gone (http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15076018-2,00.html). It makes me wonder, for so long the ANZAC spirit has been based around the men who served there - how will it change (if at all) once the last few succumb?

Grr - try this link.


My first wife, an Aussie, introduced me to ANZAC Day. The brave sacrifice of those men, and the idiocy that put them in harm’s way, should always be remembered! For anyone out there unfamiliar with this battle, please go find and watch the movie Gallipoli.

I know that today is a day for Australia, but in Canada, where I live, we have an oft-recited poem about our nation’s experience in WWI. I thought I would share it with you, in the hopes that it would resonate with your rememberance of the Australian contribution to that terrible war.

Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears
Wast of youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the saints have trod
Waste of Glory, waste of God,
– G.A. Studdert Kennedy

On this day 90 years ago, at 4.29 am about 23500 young Australian and New Zealand men put ashore on a beach new Aru Brunu on the Galliploi peninsular. They were 2km off course, and hit rugged terrain and high cliffs. WIthin 8 hours, 1 in 33 was dead. Within 5 days, it was 1 in 5. In the next 8 months, almost 1% of Australia’s entire population (men, women and children) would be killed or wounded in that 10 square kilometre area on distant shores. In all, some 160000 young men from many nations - Australia, New Zealand, Brittain, Ireland, France, India and Canada would be killed in that bloody 8 months.

It was the birth of a nation. Australian men, with Australian officers for the first time in history. Finally, between 18-20 December 1915, the ANZACs pulled out from what has since become known as ANZAC cove. The campaign was a disaster.

Such heroism. Such loss. Such sacrifice.

Today, we remember.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget lest we forget!
– From Recessional, by R. Kipling

A big “lest we forget” to all Aussie and Kiwi Dopers.

Thanks for starting this thread, Maxxie, and my thoughts to the folk of all the nations remembering this day and the events of 1915.

I don’t know that it will make much difference as Anzac Day has grown to mean more than simply the men who participated. And really, in most places there has not been a WW1 veteran attending for some years. The last soldier who served at Gallipoli died some years back, and the last first day veteran (who participated at the landing) died a few years before. Sadly, but inevitably, time is catching up with them all. :frowning:

What stood out for me about ANZAC Day when I lived in Australia are the monuments to those who never came home. I found them in every town I stopped, visited and/or passed through. Big or small, each town has its own monument. And when I talked with the locals in those towns where I stopped, and later did my own reading and research, one thing stands out that I’ve never encountered in America. WWI was a devastating war to Australia and the loss of so many men from all walks of life can still be felt. I believe Australia has been left with a permanent scar with the loss of these people and the country has shown no signs of recovering.

I will never forget.

I didn’t attend the Dawn Service this year. Instead I sang at a lovely Requiem mass where we prayed for the repose of the souls of all Australian servicemen and women who have given their lives over the years. We got a very large congregation too, which was gratifying.

I had lunch with my grandparents today. I left with the most precious of cargo. A copy of my great grandfather’s diary. Naturally, I flicked to the 25th April.

I plan to transcribe the lot.

I hope you do. This is indeed a very personal account of the life of a soldier at the front. I think that in the absence of these types of stories, the Australian people as a whole may lose touch with what happened. Please keep posting his entries.

Well, there’s one entry, if anyone can help me translate, I would be most aprrecitative:

Probably so far, the bit that has moved me most was this:

Aching hearts indeed. I’m only up to April 28, but my heart already aches.

I was at my first Dawn Service this morning - the hush was spooky, the sense of it reminding me of the walk along the Vietnam Memorial in DC. Very moving.

Lest we forget.

I have also found in the rear cover:

He then adds:

I think he genuinely did not expect to survive Gallipoli. By the second day, he believed he would die there.

I have been involved in many a school ANZAC service but yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending my first dawn service.

I was in absolute awe of the amount of people there. Marching through ANZAC square, placing wreaths in the memorial, and doing so in complete silence. Even primary school children were silent.

The thing that suprised me the most, was that there were so many people my age (I’m 17). And a lot even shed a tear or two. Young men were wearing their great-grandfathers (and in some cases, great great-grandfathers) medals and uniforms. I accompanied my VERY old great-grandmother, as my great-granfather was a soldier. He thankfully returned from he war, but ad been shot in the leg so he was confined to a wheel chair. The most unfortunate thing was that after he returned, he suffered greatly from shell-shock and shot himself in his uniform exactly 7 years after returning.

I am so proud of EVERY man and woman that fought as an ANZAC. I know I would never have had the courage considering most enlisters were my age.

Lest We Forget

ps. My friends own the donkey from the Gallipoli movie (his name is Chuck :rolleyes: )